Wednesday, May 15, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Environmental Management for all

Dear All, 

Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Previous blogs focused on HousingTransportParticipatory planning and ManagementCultural & Natural Heritage and Disaster Prepardness for all under SDG 11. In this blog I will be writing about Environmental Management from wastes and air pollution perspective. 

This target under SDG 11 focuses specifically on reducing per capita environmental impacts due to waste generation and air pollution happening in the cities. By now, we all know about the impacts of waste and air pollution. Yet, waste management continues to be a challenge in Pune, and the scenario with air pollution seems to be degrading day by day. In fact waste and air pollution go hand in hand. For instance, burning wastes in open air is a strategy for waste management but it causes air pollution to a great extent.

The UN indicator for this target is all about share of recycling and reusing the waste to at least 50% or more in the overall scenario of waste management. However, in India getting such data at the city level is challenging since the major problem is collection itself. From the Pune's service level benchmark data it has been observed that only 53% of wastes are collected through the door to door collection system, though all of this is properly disposed off as recycled and reused or incinerated. What happens to the 47% waste that is not being collected? How much of this is not coming into the Pune municipal corporation's waste management system because it is being recycled, reused, or otherwise scientifically disposed off at source, and how much of it is ending up littering roadsides, hillslopes, river beds, nallahs, etc.? In spite of having all the standards and policies in place, what is holding us back from effectively managing our waste is the question in front of us. When asked the citizens these were the responses.

Individual Level:
  • Lets be conscious of our habits related to waste generation that creates pollution on land or water. 
  • Lets monitor our consumption patterns and have a lifestyle that mimics nature where there is no waste, everything is reused and recycled in an efficient manner. 
  • Lets show empathy towards our fellow waste managers who toil for managing our waste.
  • Lets cooperate with our governing systems and follow the rules on waste segregation strictly by understanding the health risks due to wastes and pollution.
  • In order to mitigate air pollution due to vehicular emissions, lets ensure timely maintenance of our vehicles. 
  • Lets use public transport wherever possible or walk to distances less than 1 km. 

Community Level:
  • Lets try and keep the areas in our locality also clean and free from wastes. 
  • Lets raise our voice against illegal dumping of wastes and avoid open burning of garden wastes. 
  • Lets advocate for better management of wastes at the society level, for instance for wet waste, we can explore the possibilities of installing a household Biogas system while dry waste can be further segregated and stored at a place and then sold to vendors who recycle. The idea is to ensure that our wastes should not go to the landfill. 
  • Lets explore the possibility of using garden waste in an efficient way by simply putting it back to the plants as mulch or can use the dry leaves for making biochar. For more information checkout my blog on Biochar
  • Lets advocate for strict enforcement of all policies regarding waste management and advocate for better air quality. 
  • Lets advocate for effective decentralized waste management systems. 
  • Lets keep a watch on solid wastes that keep accumulated in our locality and cause a health menace. 

Governance Level: 
  • Ensure strict enforcement of waste management policies. Management of wastes should adhere to the MPCB norms for segregation and disposal.
  • Regarding air pollution, though we have effective monitoring system, there are no effective management systems. There are no strict actions against the polluters. 
  • There is a need for enforcement of penalties for the polluters, local body should involve citizens based monitoring mechanisms. Today our rivers are polluted not only due to the draining of untreated sewage but also because of people dumping wastes into them. There is a need to appoint a security checkpost at all entries to the river to ensure that no one dumps wastes into the rivers and assign penalties on the ones who dont adhere to the norms. 
  • Capacity building among citizens, members of the local body and local organizations working towards waste management should be undertaken through experts in the field. Its important to develop a scientific attitude towards waste management that helps understand the issue holistically. 
  • Emphasis should be given to success stories on waste management and air pollution mitigation measures. 

The list may continue...however, these are a few key inputs given by about 200 people, you can send in your inputs and suggestions to us on our Facebook page: Citizens of Sustainable Pune. Also please like and share our page, we are promoting Sustainable cities. 

OR you can email me at 

Pournima Agarkar.

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