Rural areas also need solid waste management plans
Mudasir Nazir Wani
The human population is growing fast continuously, and now we are more than 7 billion people in the world. In addition, the global welfare has witnessed improvement in the last decades, which resulted in producing more from our resources and producing more wastes in the world.
Waste management in urban areas has been on special focus for several reasons. However, according to the World Bank, still, 46% of the population in the world is living in the rural areas. It is therefore important to make a special attention to the waste management in the rural areas.
Solid waste management in rural areas is a key issue in developing and transitioning countries due to the lack of proper waste management facilities and services.
So far Jammu and Kashmir is concerned majority of our population is living in rural areas with fresh green and clean environment around us but our green and clean environment is degrading too fast and our surroundings are getting filled with waste particularly with non-biodegradable waste be it our lush green forests or our clean water streams flowing from Himalayas running through rural Kashmir.
As the life style in urban areas in Kashmir nowadays is not much different compared to rural Kashmir due to technology and advancement in life styles, the gap between urban and rural standards of living has also reduced.
So far the collection of waste is concerned in urban cities and in the notified municipal areas we have municipal corporations, councils and committees who had been entrusted to undertake waste management in big cities, small cities and towns.
There is a huge quantity of waste produced in villages as the life styles of village’s and populations had too increased over the period of time. The villages are also facing the menace of solid and liquid waste, but due to unavailability of any services from government this issue remains unaddressed.
The Rural Development can play a vital role with the active participation of local inhabitants of villages to deal with the menace of solid liquid waste in rural areas unfortunately they have confined their role to individual latrines and have not expanded their domain with regard to rural sanitation.
Swach Bharat Mission guidelines had a clear policy on solid and liquid waste management in rural areas at Halka Panchayat level but till date they were never implemented .Our villages had been converted into garbage dumping sites particularly the village Panchayats we can see their surroundings filled with heaps of waste. Majority of our streams, small rivers and water channels have been chocked with polythene and solid waste which ultimately pollutes our major water bodies.
The lack of civic sense is also lacking among the people living in rural areas, we have confined the rural sanitation limited to our four walls alone. The common practice among people living in rural areas is to unload their dustbins full of solid waste on the banks of rivers, streams or in the lush green posh areas which ultimately is affecting all of us at the end.
It is true also as majority of our population is living in villages we don’t have any proper mechanism to deal with the garbage and other solid liquid wastage coming from the rural areas, as we have well defined mechanism to collect the garbage and solid waste in urban cities only.
Unless and until we will find a mechanism to deal with rural solid wastes our efforts will never yield fruitful results because ultimately by way of natural processes the wastage coming from rural areas is polluting our major water resources which is effecting people in general and the life of aquatic species too.
The need of the hour is to take concrete steps to avoid the future disaster in this regard and every district must take steps to establish solid liquid waste management plants.
The Rural Development Department must expand its role in villages with respect to rural sanitation. Rural Sanitation is not only limited to construction of drains, individual latrines and cleaning of streams under MGNERGA, we must strive for the permanent solutions.
Today we can clean a stream tomorrow it will get filled with polythene and other waste again. There must be some mechanism of waste collection too in case of villages as we have in towns. Awareness camps must be organized at village level to inculcate the sense of civic sense among people regarding Rural Sanitation and funds must be allocated for waste collection and segregation and safe disposal of household garbage at village level.
Panchyats can play leading role to make their villages neat and clean if steps will be taken with good intentions to make our rivers and streams safe and clean again.
(The author writes on social and other issues. He can be reached at [email protected])