Kshemendra Nath P, Managing Director Resilient Energy India Private Limited
India is one of the fastest growing economy and is urbanizing rapidly. Over the next 30 years, 53% of the population is expected to be in urban agglomerations. According to the guidelines issued by Ministry of Urban Development (2015), about 303.5 million sq.m. of real estate, covering 25,000 acres of land will need greenfield development and additional 202.3 million sq.m of existing buildings will need to be redeveloped. Prime examples of greenfield development are cities such as Amravati, the proposed new capital of Andhra Pradesh, while the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project in Mumbai and East Kidwai Nagar in New Delhi are examples of large redevelopment projects.
Construction of infrastructure, particularly in developing countries, is associated with positive externalities, such as livelihood generation and hence desirable. However, rapid growth, particularly unplanned activity, is often associated with increased pollution loads. According to a report by IQAir AirVisual (2019), Indian cities rank amongst the most polluted, with six featuring in the list of top ten. For example, the concentration of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in large metros such as Delhi, Mumbai is routinely in the “Unhealthy” category (100-150) and in “Very Unhealthy” in winter months. One key reason for increasing pollution is the lack of facilities for scientific waste management and capturing of pollutants.
Even though C&D waste is the largest components of the waste stream, it was traditionally ignored. There were several reasons, such as its relatively inert nature, possibility of utilization in refiling and less benign options such as illegal dumping in water bodies or by roadsides. Due to lack of focus, the estimates of total C&D waste generated at city level and across the country are unreliable and vary from 15 million tons to 625 million tons per year (BMTPC, 2018).
The health cost of the pollution has attracted increasing attention of the regulators, judiciary and common man in the recent years. As a result, policy and pragmatic action has gained momentum. Several steps have been initiated such as amendments to the Waste Management Rules in 2016, stricter norms for power plants, launch of new initiatives such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Program), the Namami Gange Program (National Mission for Clean Ganga), amongst others.