Private sector gives urban rubbish a new look

Private sector gives urban rubbish a new look GOVERNMENT involvement in urban waste management in India is limited and includes sharing the subsidy component for low cost sanitation for the economically weaker sections, imposing a 20 per cent duty on import of garbage and setting up of water supply and sewerage boards. This woefully inadequate effort is supplemented by the private sector, which recycles a major portion of the wastes generated in cities and towns.

The biggest recycling programme in Delhi is conducted by Development Alternatives (DA), a voluntary organisation that recycles 200 kg of waste paper, cotton and agricultural residues every day. DA employs women to make products for automobile filter manufacturers, printers and suppliers of coasters out of the waste that they collect from embassies, associations and educational institutions. "The recycling unit aims for optimum waste utilisation," says T N Subramanian, paper technologist at DA.

Delhi's Jan Sewa Ashram, a voluntary organisation set up in 1984, conducts school environment education programmes and runs a paper recycling unit. The Ashram also offers consultancy services for setting up units to manufacture handmade paper and helps such units market their products through its outlet, Environmentally Appropriate Recycling Technology for Humanity. The Ashram is now setting up a recycling factory in Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh.

The Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd converts bagasse -- a waste product of the sugar industry -- into newsprint and writing paper, thus helping to conserve forests while aiding waste management.

The Indian Sugar and General Engineering Corporation in Yamunanagar in Haryana is one of the largest companies manufacturing solid fuel briquetting plants for the conversion of agricultural wastes such as rice husk, groundnut shell, straw, coffee husk, coconut husk and coconut fibre into briquettes for fuel.

Daurala Sugar Works in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh has set up a plant for the production of methane gas from effluents discharged by their factory, reducing toxicity of the effluents as well as producing energy.

Tata Steel and some others have set up plants that recycle slag -- a waste product of the steel industry -- for use as raw material in the manufacture of cement.

Government efforts
Among the government enterprises, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) provides technical and financial assistance for setting up projects in the fields of bio-energy, methane recovery from distillery and industrial effluents, and manufacture of solid fuels from municipal and agricultural wastes. IREDA has started a series of entrepreneurship development programmes aimed at motivating potential entrepreneurs to undertake ventures in methane gas recovery. It arranges technical consultancy services and provides loans at concessional rates.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission collects raw materials from government organisations and the private sector and converts it into paper. It helps conserve forest resources by not using wood pulp in the recycling process.