Solid waste management key for better health: Experts

Bhubaneswar: Proper management of solid waste is emerging as a critical determinant for good health, said experts on Tuesday.

To draw attention to the issue, a media roundtable on Solid Waste Management (SWM) in rural Odisha was organized by UNICEF Odisha here on Tuesday.

Participants included Dr. Monika Nielsen, Chief, UNICEF Odisha, Pramod Dabrase, Expert in Solid Waste Management, Mumbai, Subash Chandra Das, Joint Secretary, Department of Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water and Abhay Biswal, Superintendent Engineer, RWSS, Circle Bhubaneswar from the Government of Odisha, Shipra Saxena, WASH Specialist, UNICEF Odisha and 30 state level media representatives.

The discussions at the roundtable highlighted that solid waste poses a severe threat to public health and environment, not just in urban but rural areas as well in India.

Though the form of waste generated in rural areas is predominantly organic and biodegradable, yet today it has become a major concern as evidence of solid waste polluting the air, water and soil are emerging.

The discussions focused on effective management of solid waste in rural areas by at creating awareness, mobilizing and putting waste disposal and systems of reuse in place at household and community level.

Welcoming the media Dr Monika Nielsen, Chief, UNICEF Odisha said, “While on one hand the world has made huge strides in improving health, nutrition, education outcomes for everyone especially children and women, on the other hand, through indiscriminate solid waste disposal, we are polluting our air, water and soil. This has a significant impact on public health and the environment and is emerging as a huge problem that needs all our attention urgently.”

Setting the context,Shipra Saxena, WASH Specialist, UNICEF Odisha said, “With thousands of tonnes of waste being generated per day, we can call ourselves a wasteful civilization. To Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is call of the time. Waste management is progress, sustainability.”

“Waste if treated properly can be converted to a resource and can be good source of revenue generation,” she added.

Pramod Dabrase said, “The health and environmental impact due to lack of solid waste management systems, are least understood. Today. solid waste is a problem not only in cities but also rural areas. Each citizen needs to be aware and practice waste reduction and management. Media has a key role to educate communities about need and importance of waste management.”

Speaking on government policy on Solid waste management in rural areas, S C Dash, Joint Secretary of PR & DW said, “As per NGT’s recent directives all states of the country have to follow the Solid Waste Management 2016.  Though the rule was meant for municipality area initially, but as per the recent directives all rural areas also be included in the programm. As per the directives, 3GPs of each District which supposed to be identified as model GPs and we have identified 90GPs in our state for this purpose.” 

Speaking on proper utilization of Solid waste, Abhay Biswal, Superintendent Engineer, RWSS, Bhubaneswar circle gave stress on ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ of plastic. “Burning of solid waste should not be encouraged rather reuse of it would minimize the hazardous impact of the waste”, he further suggested.