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Vaishali Gupta1, Sushma Goel2, T. G. Rupa2
Lady Irwin College, 1 Sikandara Road, New Delhi 110001
Department of Resource Management and Design Application, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, India
Correspondence should be addressed to Vaishali Gupta
Received February 20, 2016; Accepted February 24, 2016; Published February 26, 2016;
Copyright: 2016 Vaishali Gupta et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
Cite This Article: Gupta, V., Goel, S., Rupa, T.(2016). Good governance and solid waste management: An overview
of legislative regulations in India. Journal of Business & Management Studies, 2(1).1-9
Across the political and economic spectrum in India society, natural resources play an important role in providing good
quality of life to individuals. Management of solid waste has become a major issue affecting nations around the world.
Rapid urbanization, increasing population and unplanned development clubbed with the problem of solid waste
management in the country is worsening every day.
In an effort to build a resource efficient India, it is important to improve waste management practices. With the changing
perspective, there is a need to understand the ecological concern and evaluate past policies, frameworks and strategies
developed for a sustainable ecosystem. After been neglected for long, SWM is slowly receiving momentum and towns
across the country are demonstrating successful models of effective operating systems and infrastructure changes making it
possible to monitor waste and make country waste free.
The present paper reviews the existing legal policies and profiles available for management of solid waste in India. It makes
use of database, legislative policies, programmes and regulations to instill a common approach for management of
KEYWORDS: Solid Waste Management, Municipalities, Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), Regulatory framework, India.

aste is an issue that affects all human beings. Waste

generation has a huge impact on the environment and
emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to change in
climate and loss of significant materials. Not only is the
amount of waste produced by humans increasing but its
nature is also changing. There has been a shift from
biodegradable to non-biodegradable waste, which is a
complex combination of materials that are difficult to

development of new materials like plastic, the quantities of

recyclable material is decreasing by the day[1].
According to Environmental Protection Act (EPA)[2]
1990, waste can be defined as any material scrap,
effluent, undesired or excess that requires removal because
it is damaged, old, adulterated or spoiled [3]. It is not just
any unwanted or discarded material but a resource.
India is a diverse developing society, which provides
enormous challenges in the political, social, economic,
cultural and environmental sector. The present scenario
reflects on these foundational aspirations and to maintain

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harmony and balance it is essential to develop a sustainable

philosophy [4]. Increased population, rapid urbanization,
migration to urban sectors and changing lifestyles are some
of the factors that are shifting India from a largely rural
country to an urban nation but at a cost. On the one hand,

there is rural India, which is agricultural in nature, while

on the other; it is urban India that is becoming increasingly
unmanageable [5]. The growth story over the last few
decades indicates an enormous increase in the volume of
industrial as well as domestic waste (Figure 1) [6] [7].

Figure 1.1: Classification of waste

According to the report prepared by European Business

and Technology Centre[5] in 2011, India generates over
160,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of municipal waste every
day, which is expected to increase to 260 MT/day by 2047.
The per capita generation of solid waste in cities ranges
from 0.2 kg to 0.8 kg, which is expected to increase at a
rate of 1.33% annually. Failing to develop a sustainable
system for waste management will cost India more than it
can handle.
On an average, 32,000 people are added to our country
every day and this will continue till 2021. These numbers
are alarming considering the status of waste management
infrastructure in India. Around the world, the rate of
urbanization is ahead of rate of increase in sanitation
infrastructure by 33%, but in India, this gap is very broad
as a result of impromptu response of government to handle
waste management issues, indicating a missing plan of
action to improve waste management in the country [8].

Functional elements of waste

According to UNEP[9], management of waste includes two
components prevention and disposal. While Waste
prevention aims at dropping the overall quantities of waste

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to reduce the harm done to environment, Waste Disposal

involves collection, segregation, handling, transportation
and the final disposal of waste. The priority of waste
prevention and waste disposal is to attempt maximum
extraction of components and minimum overall waste
generated which can be achieved through 3 Rs Reduce,
Reuse and Recycle[10].
For effective management of waste and to help reduce
adverse impacts on the environment and human health; a
number of processes are involved like monitoring,
collection, transport, processing, recycling and disposal
[11]. The activities associated with the management of
municipal solid wastes from the point of generation to final
disposal can be grouped into six functional elements:
(Figure 2).

Figure 2: Functional Elements of Solid waste management in India



application of environmental governance for effective



In an attempt to improve industrial and economic growth

of the country, Indian has fallen behind in paying attention
to management of solid waste, which is leading to
unfavorable impact on the ecology, and health and safety of
people. More the harm done to the environment, greater
will be the effort required to restore nature to its original
In India, various rules and policies have been designed and
implemented concentrating on management of waste[12].
In an attempt to fulfill its duty towards environment, the
Government of India undertook various projects, set
committees and designed several polities to regulate the
management of waste in the country. Following is the list
of attempts made by the Indian Government at the Central


Judicial interventions on SWM:


Policies on Solid Waste Management:


The National Environment Policy (2006) The

National Environmental Policy formulated in May
2006 is the outcome of broad consultation with experts
from various disciplines. Attempting to expand the
coverage and fill the spaces existing in the previous
regulations, The National Environment policy aims to
conserve critical environmental resources and convert
them into policies, programs and projects for social
and economic development of the country. It also
concentrates on efficient use of environmental
resources to reduce the impact on ecology and

The National Action Plan for Climate Change (2009)

The Plan designed to deal with challenges of climate
change was implemented through eight missions. One
of the missions of the plan National Mission in
Sustainable Habitat highlighted the importance of
improving building energy efficiency, improving
public transportation and management of solid waste
in the country. Development of technology for energy
generation, sewage utilization and optimum recycling
were other components of the action plan[13].


Committee on Urban Waste (1972): One of the earliest

known committees to study solid waste management
was set by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
(MoHFW). The committee aimed at obtaining in-depth
information from Southeast Asian countries and
multiple urban local bodies to identify the best
practices in SWM. Submitted in 1975, the report
presented various recommendations on different
aspects of SWM collection, segregation,
transportation and disposal. It also presented a
comparative assessment of performance by Municipal
authorities in some states and highlighted the need to
develop an enacting model of legislation[14].
Bajaj Committee (1994): - The increasing problem of
waste in cities and the slow rate of development of
effective SWM strategies demanded the Central

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Government to set up a High Power committee on

urban solid waste management in India, which was
popularly known as the Bajaj Committee. The report
made large number of practical recommendations
related to segregation of waste at source, setting up
primacy collection units, composting and recycling
and providing appropriate equipment and vehicles for
transportation of waste[15].

Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of

India (1996) A public interest litigation (PIL) was
filed in the Supreme Court against the Government of
India and municipal authorities in 1996 for their failure
in managing MSW. It was submitted as a special Civil
Application (Application No. 888 of 1996) where the
Supreme Court appointed an expert committee of 8
members that consulted around 300 municipal
authorities, various stakeholders and submitted their
final report titled Solid Waste Management in Class I
Cities to the Supreme Court in March 1999. The 100
page report consisted of technical aspects of managing
different types of waste, administrative requirements,
capacity building, institutional management of
information system, public awareness, and legal
actions obligations to be taken by Central government,
state authorities and Class I cities to address the
problem of Municipal solid waste management


Asim Burman Committee (1999) When PIL failed to

bring a change, the Supreme Court of India formed a
committee to review the condition of SWM practices
in Class I cities in July, 1998. The commission was
constituted under the chairmanship of Mr. Asim
Burman, tabled the report in March 1999 giving a
wide range of suggestions for improving the system of
waste management which included support measures
that should be extended from Central and state
governments for effective strategy planning[17].


The CAG Audit on Municipal Solid Waste in India

(December 2008) The Comptroller and Audit
General (CAG) performed an audit on Management
of Waste in India in 2008, which included 24 states to
identify loopholes and weaknesses in the policies
related to management of waste. Municipalities of
many cities were found guilty of poor monitoring of
waste, degraded quality of data and lack of
accountability that was leading to ineffective waste
management in the country[18].
Apart from the listed regulations, action committees and
rulings given by the government of India, some other laws
were also introduced at the national level to help curb
generation of waste and assist in efficient handling of waste
(Table 1)19-24 - Law of torts, The Indian Penal court (1860),

Code of Civil procedure (1908), Constitution of India

(1950) - to name a few. The Water (prevention and control
of pollution) Act, 1974, highlighted the importance of

cleaning water bodies and prohibited the use of streams for

disposal of polluting matter. The Air (prevention and
control of pollution) Act, 1974, restricted certain industrial

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plants in the city limits and issued the directive for the
right fuels and appliances that could be used. The
Environment Protection Act of 1986, Hazardous waste
(management and handling) Rule (1989), Bio-medical
wastes (management & handling) Rule (1988) and
Recycled Plastics (manufacture and usage) Rule (1989)
were other laws introduced to help curb generation of
waste and save environment[25].

Table 1. New Approaches to Solid Waste Management in India

In addition, to the regulations laid and policies introduced by the government, some states have introduced guidelines for

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promoting healthy waste collection, handling and disposal practices. Some of the Municipal Corporation Acts launched
include Delhi Municipal Corporation Act (1959), The Delhi Plastic Bag (Manufacture, Sales and Usage) and nonbiodegradable garbage (Control) Act (2000), UP Municipal Corporation Act (1959) and Karnataka Municipal Corporation
Act (1976)[26][28].
Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling)
Rule, 2000
In the midst of various policies and committees, the
Government of India with Ministry of Environment and
Forest (MoEF) notified the Municipal Solid Waste
(Management and Handling) Rule on September 25, 2000.
The main objective of the rule was to devise scientific
procedures to dispose municipal solid waste effectively. It
also made every municipal authority responsible for
implementation of all provisions in their territory to
develop an effective system for collection, segregation,
storage, transportation, processing and disposal of
The Rule also sets different responsibilities to be fulfilled
by every stakeholder.

Municipal Authorities:


State Government and Union Territory

Administration: It is the responsibility of the in-



Accountable for active

implementation of the rule and infrastructural
development in their territory. Besides this,
municipal authorities must take permission from
the state board/ committee before setting up any
processing or disposal facility to comply with
healthy implementation of the program.

charge of the Department of Urban Development

of every state and union territory to ensure
complete enforcement of the provisions of the
rules in their cities and within the provisional
limits of their jurisdiction.
State Board/ Central Pollution Control Board: The
board monitors the compliance standards set by
the rule concerning ground water characteristic,
purification of air, leachate quality and quality of
compost and is also responsible for giving grants
and acceptance for setting up a processing or
waste disposal facility in accordance with other
agencies like Urban Development Department,
Planning Department and Ground Water Board.
Board gets a time frame of 45 days to accept or
reject the request to stipulate the customary
standards and criteria.
Citizens: The Citizens of the country are expected
to understand and act responsible for making an
attempt to segregate waste at the source, avoid
littering on the streets and participate actively in
sustainable waste management practices.

Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rule,

Draft Notification (2013)

In a significant ruling, a Division Bench of Honorable High
Court of Karnataka directed the MoEF to consider various
objections filed against the controversial amendments and
propose a comprehensive Municipal Solid Waste
(Management and Handling) Rule 2013. The direction was

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issued in response to PIL filed by Bengaluru based nonprofit Environment support group against Bruhat
Bengaluru Mahanagara Palika (BBMP) and MoEF. The
submission questioned MoEFs notification regarding
invitation for comments and suggestions for Municipal
Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rule, 2013 and
felt the proposed modifications were highly retrograde and
promoted unjustified, unscientific and unnecessary
techniques for management of solid waste. The court also
identified that the proposed amendments had omitted
Schedule II of the existing ruling, which laid down the
details for handling of waste segregation[30].
Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling)
Rule, Draft Notification, (2015)
Even after listing the MSW (Management & Handling)
Rule, 2013 in the gazette of India, not much action was
taken over it. In a recent development, draft notification of
MSW (M&H) Rule 2015 will soon be listed by MoEF
under public domain for objections and suggestions on the
proposal. The new rule focuses on waste generators and
suggests source segregation in three different streams
bio-degradable / wet waste, non-biodegradable waste/ dry
waste and domestic hazardous waste in different bins/bags
to be handed over to waste collectors at the time of
Implementation Agencies
MoEF is the nodal agency responsible for implementing
and streamlining the system of municipal solid waste
management in India. Apart from this, Municipal Solid
Waste Manual was published in 2000 by CPHEEO
(Central Public Health Environmental Engineering
Organization) under MoUD (Ministry of Urban
development) to aid execution of these rules32. The rules
related to municipal, plastic and bio-medical are applied at
the State level and it is the responsibility of Municipalities
& ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) to implement and monitor
the laws related to collection, segregation, storage,
transportation, processing and disposal of solid waste19.
Ministry of Law has also been assigned the task of
preparing legal framework in connection with state
governments and effective implementation of policies.
Status Compliance with Solid Waste Management in
More than a decade after the implementation of various
rules and policies initiated by the Government of India;
state municipalities, ULBs and private companies of many
states failed to initiate the measures of solid waste
management5. Paucity of resources, inability to outsource
activities, lack of in-house capabilities, insufficient funds &
staff and low level of implementation are some reasons for

failure of implementation of legislative policies in many

cities and states (Figure 3) [33][34]. Amidst the lack of
efficiency, it is also important to mention the respectable

work initiated by cities like Namakkal (Tamil Nadu) and

Suryapet (Telangana) which have managed to become nodustbin, zero-waste cities.

Figure 3: Status of compliance of municipal solid waste (management & handling) rule, 2000

Reasons for Non-compliance with

Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rule, 2000.

Collection of Waste

Segregation of Waste

Lack of awareness and


Lack of wide publicity through

electronic and print media

Unavailability of primary
collection vehicles and
Insufficient response from
citizens & Lack of financial
Difficulty in motivating slum
Lack of personnel door-to-door
collection and sustainable
Frequent Absenteeism of sanitary
Unavailability of sanitary
workers on Sundays and public

Lack of public awareness and

motivation resulting in poor
response from citizens
Lack of interest on how to use
separate bins for storage and
Lack of sufficient knowledge
of benefits of segregation
Lack of cooperation and
negative attitude of people &
missing finances to create
Difficulty of educating slum

Storage of Waste

Lack of Public awareness,

motivation and education
Lack of civil sense and bad
habits among people to litter
Lack of cooperation from
households, trade and
Easy panel provision
Lack of litter bins & huge
distance between community
Resistance to change attitude
& Shortage of storage
Inappropriate planning for
waste storage depots

Local Authorities and RWAs (Resident Welfare

Associations) are also making their efforts to improvise
and use different techniques and technologies for handling
waste. Following are some of the success stories from
across India:



Disposal of Waste

Lack of financial resources

High maintenance of old
vehicles used for collection
Lack of financial resources &
technical know-how
Lack of skilled personnel&
Unavailability of appropriate
Lack of basic facility to set up
treatment plants

Lack of engineering skills

Lack of technical support
Lack of knowledge on
scientific disposal of waste
Unavailability of appropriate
Lack of institutional capacity

Lack of institutional capacity&

road infrastructure
Missing vehicles for
inaccessible areas and narrow

Lack of effective legal remedy

Successful initiatives by state governments and local

authorities to handle solid waste


Transportation of Waste

Surat, Gujarat: Within a time period of 18

months, the city shifted from stinking, dirty,
garbage strewn to one of the cleanest city in the
world. The RWA of Sarita Vihar With the efforts
of local authorities and citizens, the city was able
to spread awareness and educate people, introduce
grievance redressal cards and imposed fines to
become a role model for other municipalities[35].
Sarita Vihar, Delhi: One of the very first colonies
to take up this initiative of becoming a zero waste
colony in Delhi was Sarita Vihar. The RWAs of
Sarita Vihar had waste management as top priority
and organized awareness generation camps,
capacity building workshops and cleanliness drive
for the inmates to promote the concept.. They also
indulged in source segregation and on-site
composting of waste in the neighborhood
community park[36].
Kerela: There are various examples from the state
of Kerela. Chanukkara Village in Alappuzha




district is a very good example of community,

Panchayat and NGO partnership. With the help of
Social Economic Unit Foundation (SEUF), a
Local NGO entered into a partnership with the
community to decentralize household waste
through community education and awareness
building. More than 90% of the community
participates in the practice and sets a great
example for the entire country.
Kovalam: started a Zero waste campaign in
association with the transport department and
established a biogas plant for biodegradable waste,
a resource recovery center for non-biodegradable
discards, material substitution for products out of
waste. Other things included poison free farming,
water conservation and community capacity
building for managing waste in the area[37].
Nashik, Maharashtra : The city has establised a
compost factory for converting waste into valuable
compost and manure. The garbage from city
centres is mechanically seperated before sending
it was composting. With the support of the locals
Nasik has been able to treat 230 MT of waste/ day
and help farmers with organic maure in and
around the city[38].
Rajasthan: The state government of Rajasthan
issued a policy document in 2001 for management
of solid waste. The document highlights the
criteria for selection of private stakeholders for
setting up waste to energy plants, the types of

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facilities exptended to citizens

responsibility of various stakeholders.



There are many stories of the efforts made by people across

the county. Various organizations and NGOs are
supporting and educating people to promote and develop a
habit of environment conservation.




In order to meet the challenges of municipal solid waste

management, there is a need for technological
advancements, community awareness and implementation
of good waste management practices. Increasing public
awareness about degrading health and environment is
becoming a cause of concern for society. It is putting more
and more pressure on Central and state level governing
bodies to find sustainable solutions to the problem of
municipal solid waste management. There is a need to
address the problem at the grass root level to find lasting
It can be seen that the current laws and regulations are
unable to make an impact for obtaining sound
environment. Either the laws are not well understood or
unable to implement successfully. Loopholes can be
identified in the legal regime and there is a need for
strictness in application of the laws to see a change in the
future. Providing municipal services and clean
environment is the primary responsibility of State
municipalities and ULBs. Previous attempts made by the
government at the central and state levels have been
noteworthy but insufficient. The efforts made by local
bodies, citizens and government together are visible and
worth replicating, yet there is a need to stop tolerating
cheap and dirty practices of waste disposal and pay
attention to environment and health. Hence, there is an
urgent need for better policies and legislative changes that
promote waste minimization by collectively promoting
responsibility towards environment and match with the
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