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Municipal solid waste solid waste
management in Kanpur, India: management
obstacles and prospects
Hina Zia and V. Devadas
Department of Architecture and Planning,
Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee, Haridwar, India

Purpose The purpose of this research is to assess the existing state of MSW in Kanpur city with
the aim of identifying the main obstacles to its efficiency and the prospects for improvisation of the
solid waste management system in the city.
Design/methodology/approach The research has been conducted in three stages. The first stage
involved collection of background information through various reports, publications of various
organizations to understand the state of MSWM in the city, followed by interviews with various heads
of the Municipal Corporation involved in SWM, municipal workers and residents of the city. Field
studies were conducted in few wards of the city and official dump sites. The third stage involved
conducting interviews with planning experts and representatives from NGOs to derive information on
various SWM related problems and prospects for improvising the system.
Findings The existing solid waste management system in the city appears to be highly inefficient.
Only primary and secondary collection, transportation and open dumping are practiced, that too in a
non-technical manner.
Research limitations/implications There is a need to establish a detailed database regarding
the quantity and quality of the waste generated by various generators category wise. There is a need
to find the exact size of the informal waste recycling sector and the economics of waste recycling in the
city to integrate it with the formal sector.
Originality/value This paper systematically assesses the obstacles in the existing solid waste
management system in Kanpur city and tries to assess the potentials for its improvisation.
Keywords Waste management, Waste rates, India
Paper type Research paper

Solid waste management is defined as the application of techniques to ensure an
orderly execution of the various functions of collection, transport, processing,
treatment and disposal of solid waste (Robinson, 1986). It has developed from its early
beginnings of mere dumping to a sophisticated range of options including re-use,
recycling, incineration with energy recovery, advanced landfill design and engineering
and a range of alternative technologies. It aims at an overall waste management
system which is the best environmentally, economically sustainable for a particular
region and socially acceptable (World Resource Foundation, 1996; McDougall et al.,
2001). Management of Environmental
Indian cities which are fast competing with global economies in their drive for fast Quality: An International Journal
Vol. 18 No. 1, 2007
economic development have so-far failed to effectively manage the huge quantity of pp. 89-108
waste generated. The per capita waste generation is though less than that of developed q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
economies but the overall quantity is enormous due to the large population residing in DOI 10.1108/14777830710717749
MEQ the cities, especially the metropolitan cities. Kanpur, earlier called the Manchester of
18,1 the East is one such industrial metropolitan city of North-India where waste
management is ineffective due to various reasons like poor management, lackadaisical
approach towards waste management practices, public apathy, lack of political will,
urbanization patterns, population growth, etc.
In Kanpur city, waste is generated from various sources like, domestic, industrial
90 and commercial and the waste generation rate has been steadily increasing as is the
common phenomena observed in urban centers world wide. Indiscriminate dumping of
waste in and around the city is rampant. Heaps of waste can be seen clogging the
drains (leading to flooding during monsoons), road sides and even middle of the roads,
market places, commercial centers, residential premises and open land wherever found.
Industrial wastes specially from tanneries and bio-medical wastes can be seen dumped
along with the domestic and commercial waste throughout the city. Such hazardous
waste is in fact taken as municipal wastes only. Attempts made by the interventions
like Institutional and Community Development project (under GAP (a list of
abbreviations can be found in the Appendix) in 1996-2001) failed to improve the
situation and the city continues to be littered with waste of all sorts. Private-sector
involvement in SWM in the city is negligible due to lack of incentives on the part of
government. There is, therefore, an urgent need to thoroughly examine the existing
state of solid waste management in the city, identify the bottlenecks and propose a
strategic management plan which could be effective in the city in accordance to its
strengths and weaknesses. For a better understanding of the above issues, the paper is
subdivided as follows:
a brief history of Kanpur, population growth rate and urban sprawl;
an overview of the existing solid waste management practices;
legal aspects of MSWM related to disposal of collected/processed wastes;
discussion; and

A brief history of Kanpur, population growth rate and urban sprawl

Study area: Kanpur City
The study area of Kanpur Urban Agglomeration lies towards the North-eastern part of
District Kanpur Nagar. It is situated in the lower section of the Ganga and Yamuna
doab, between the parallels of 258 260 and 268 580 North latitude and 798 310 and 808 340
East meridians of longitude in an irregular quadrilateral shape (Figure 1). It has a total
area of 298.98 It is the most populated metropolitan city of Uttar Pradesh state
and the states chief industrial centre. It is located on the right bank of the river Ganga.
It enjoys a central position in Uttar Pradesh and is at a distance of 63 km from the state
capital, Lucknow and 425 km from the national capital Delhi.
The origin of Kanpur is often traced back to the mythological periods of
Mahabharata(a Hindu epic) and Lord Krishna. According to the legend, it is the place
where ear-piercing ceremony of Lord Krishna was performed. According to historians,
the town was founded by King Chandel of Sachendi in 1750 AD . It was earlier called
Kanhaiyapur, which later became Kanpur.
solid waste


Figure 1.
Location of study area:

The rapid growth of Kanpur and its emergence as an important industrial and trade
centre began in the late 18th century when the East India Company established its
garrison in the city. The city had three distinct parts: the Cantonment, the Civil Lines
and the Native town. In the year 1832, the famous Grand Trunk (GT) road was
constructed between Allahabad and Kanpur followed by Kanpur-Kalpi road in 1846.
These linkages contributed to the accelerated development of industries and trade in
the city. In the last two decades, the pace of industrial development has though slowed
MEQ down; it however continues to be the largest city in Uttar Pradesh state and the eighth
18,1 largest city of the country.

Population growth
The city is experiencing a high growth rate of population as presented in Table I. The
density of Kanpur Municipal Corporation also shows an increasing trend. It was 3,274
92 persons per in 1961 and gradually increased to 9,275 persons per in 2001.

Urban sprawl
Urban centers are dynamic in nature continuously experiencing change in land use
patterns and city limits. Kanpur city is no exception to this process of urban sprawl.
Increase in urban sprawl results in need for wider coverage of waste collection,
transportation and disposal facilities. An attempt has, therefore, been made to study
the spread of Kanpur for various years, based on data from various sources. The
results are shown in Table II. The city of Kanpur has undergone extremely fast
expansion in recent years due to various reasons. The rapid changes in the urban land

Changes during the preceding decades

Census year Total population (%)

1881 151,444
1891 188,444 24.4
1901 202,797 7.6
1911 178,557 211.9
1921 216,436 21.2
1931 243,755 12.6
1941 487,324 99.9
1951 705,383 44.6
1961 971,062 37.9
1971 1,275,242 31.3
1981 1,639,000 28.5
1991 2,037,333 24.3
Table I. 2001 2,772,212 36.1
Growth of population in
Kanpur urban Source: Based on Robert Montgomery, Statistical Report of the District Of Cawnpore, Calcutta (1849);
agglomeration Nevill H.R., District Gazetteer of Cawnpore, Allahabad (1909) and Census of India, Government of India
(1881-2001) (various years)

Urban area Urban growth Urban growth

Serial No. Year (1975 has been taken as base year) (%)

1 1975 114.22
2 1986 170.59 56.37 49.35
3 1989 211.40 97.18 85.08
4 1991 298.89 184.67 161.67
7 2001 298.89
Table II. 8 2021 (proposed) 340.23 226.01 197.87
Urban growth of Kanpur
in different years Source: Based on various reports of Kanpur Development Authority (KDA)
use and their expansion need to be monitored frequently for effective and realistic Municipal
physical planning of the urban sprawl (an important component of the Master Plans) solid waste
and to check uncontrolled growth of the city (Kalubarme et al., 1985).
The urban extent of Kanpur metropolis in 1975 was 114.22, while in 1986 it management
was 170.59 Thus, the urban growth recorded during the 11 years period of
1975-1986 is 56.37, an average annual urban growth rate of 4.48 per cent. The
rate of growth between 1975 and 1989 is 97.18, which amounts to an increase in 93
growth by 85.08 per cent. The period 1989-1991 experienced a tremendous growth of
20.7 per cent per annum.
Increase in the built-up area has obviously led to adverse effects on other land use
categories. It has been noticed that the urban sprawl has extended along the East-west
transportation network. Furthermore, specific growth has been identified in the South
of city. The city, at present, is therefore facing a lot of infrastructure related problems
like housing shortage, unplanned road networks, traffic related problems, water
supply, sewerage related problems, poor management of wastes, shortage of power
supply, etc.

Existing status of solid waste management in Kanpur city

Field studies and questionnaire administration
Both primary and secondary sources of information were employed in the current
study. Primary data sources include interviews with various heads of the Municipal
Corporation involved in SWM (City Cleansing, Health and Engineering departments),
NGOs (eco-friends, Shramik Bharti), municipal workers(sanitary inspectors, drivers,
sanitary workers, etc), residents of the city, field observations and discussion with
experts(scientists from Common Effluent Treatment Plant and State Pollution Control
Board). Secondary sources of information include maps, census reports, reports by the
local government (Municipal Corporation) and information published in books.
Kanpur city is divided into six zones and 110 wards for discharge of various
administrative services. The responsibility of solid waste management is that of
Kanpur Municipal Corporation. Field studies were conducted in representative wards
from the core city, middle zone and suburbs to have a better understanding of the
overall waste management status in different parts of the city. Twelve wards were
investigated for the status of secondary storage of wastes, collection points and overall
sanitation in the ward. A small sample of people working in the informal waste
recycling sector was also conducted as recycling forms an important part of the ISWM
hierarchy and the study area has an estimated 15,000-20,000 people working in the
segment (Srivastava, 2002). The Investigators conducted a random sample survey
(with replacement) for 20 waste pickers/dump pickers, five itinerant waste buyers
(kabaries), three jogies, seven retailers, two bone collectors/merchants and three
wholesalers. Thus, a total of 40 respondents were interviewed from the informal waste
recycling sector in the study area of Kanpur city.

Sources and characteristics of waste

Cities are often generators of huge quantity of waste due to larger population and
higher concentration of industrial and commercial activities and typical so-called
urban lifestyle. As the city grows, economically as well as spatially, the per capita
waste generation also increases (Hoornweg et al., 1999). The major generators and
MEQ types of waste generated in the study area are given in Table III. The per capita waste
18,1 generation and its characteristics vary from zone to zone depending on the land use,
socio-economic and cultural factors.
The physical characteristics of the generated waste and the variations observed in
different income-groups and functional areas are presented in Table IV.
There is no data base as to the quantity of waste generated or the yearly change in
94 waste generation rates. Therefore, findings observed during the ICDP project have
been considered for waste generation estimates. Considering a floating population of
0.2 million and their average municipal waste generation to be 0.3 kg/capita/day, 60
tons of waste is generated by the floating population. Taking the average generation
rate of 0.55 kg/capita/day, the waste generation by the resident population of Kanpur
city as stated in Table IV for the year 2001 is 1,524 tons/day and total municipal waste
generation as 1,584 tons/day.
The average waste collection as reported by the Kanpur Nagar Nigam is 90 per cent
(1,266 tons/day). By field study however, it is estimated to be 42.92 per cent. The
remaining 57.08 per cent is the gap between waste generation estimates and collection.
A certain portion of the organic waste is eaten by cows, stray dogs and pigs from the
waste collection depots and streets. Stray animals eat up to 5 per cent of the waste
generated and almost 14 per cent is recovered by the recycling sector (ICDP-Phase 1,
1996; ICDP-Phase 2, 2001a; ICDP-Phase 3, 2001b).The estimated gap between waste
generation and collection in Kanpur city is presented in Table V.

Administrative aspects of waste management

Kanpur Municipal Corporation also known as Kanpur Nagar Nigam (KNN, n.d.) is the
local body for maintaining sanitary and hygienic condition (including health and solid
waste management) of Kanpur city. It is headed by the Mayor and a board of 12
corporators. Three departments of KNN are involved in solid waste management.
(1) Health Department. Primary collection of waste comes under the purview of
Health department.

Serial No. Sources Types of waste

1 Households and institutions Mostly organic with some plastics, glass,

metals, inert materials and hazardous waste
like batteries, paint, etc.
2 Schools Mostly papers
3 Vegetable/fruit markets, restaurants, etc. Mostly organic
4 Commercial centers Mostly paper and plastics
5 Healthcare facilities Infectious and non-infectious waste
6 Industries Leather wastes, spent chemicals, metals,
plastics, glass, etc.
7 Slaughterhouses Bones, blood, intestines, carcasses, etc.
8 Animal husbandry and diaries Dung and used straw, kanaa (used to feed
Table III. 9 Wastewater treatment plants Chromium rich toxic wastes
Generators of waste and
types of waste Source: Prepared by authors based on field observations
Serial No. Item Mixed Door to door HIG Resi HIG MIG LIG Veg. market Comm. area Indus area Collection depot Disp. site
Sample 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1 Biodegradable 34.94 58.60 59.96 38.65 29.27 34.94 29.27 58.60 59.96 38.65
2 Paper 3.69 5.12 5.77 4.80 0.59 3.69 0.59 5.12 5.77 4.80
3 Plastics 6.22 5.40 5.91 5.10 4.18 6.22 4.18 5.40 5.91 5.10
4 Rubber and leather 2.69 2.46 2.90 2.10 0.95 2.69 0.95 2.46 2.90 2.10
5 Rags 5.10 7.55 5.59 3.95 2.27 5.10 2.27 7.55 5.59 3.95
6 Metal 0.01 0.01
7 Ceramic 0.01 0.01
8 Inert and fine earth 38.8 17.12 16.3 37.22 51.46 38.8 51.46 17.12 16.3 37.22
9 Fine organic 8.51 3.75 3.57 8.16 11.28 8.51 11.28 3.75 3.57 8.16
Notes: HIG High income group; MIG Middle income group; LIG Low income group
Source: Kanpur Nagar Nigam (1999)

weight by per cent)

Kanpur city refuse (dry
Physical analysis of
solid waste

Table IV.
MEQ (2) City Cleansing Department. Secondary collection, transportation and disposal of
18,1 waste is looked after by this department.
(3) Engineering Department. This section deals with the repair and maintenance of

The three departments work on their own without any co-ordination among them.
96 Primary collection involves sweeping the streets and cleaning the drains in an area
assigned to the sweepers, followed by transportation to the assigned collection points
in handcarts (trolleys). Three different types of waste storage facilities are used in
Kanpur city. They are:
(1) rubbish depots (an enclosed storage area for wastes with concrete floor and
surrounding walls, with two entrances at the front or side);
(2) open depots (an open space without any built boundaries and treated as an
official storage point); and
(3) containers (open type containers with smaller capacity of 0.75 m3 and 1.0 m3
and bigger containers of capacity 6.5 m3 and 8.5 m3 with filling windows).

It is observed that the spread of collection depots is not uniform. People often tend to
throw the waste anywhere along the streets and roads or in some cases brought to the
depot by the servants. From the collection points, waste is lifted by the vehicle fleet
(secondary collection). The sweepers have to officially work for eight hours per day but
in practice they hardly work for four hours.

Secondary collection and transportation

Three types of collection system are identified for rubbish depots, open depots and
containers. They are:
(1) In this system, batches are assigned to empty rubbish and open depots. A
batch comprises of a loader and four to five trucks. Each batch is assigned a
specific number of depots in an area. The loader empties the depots waste into
trucks, which take the waste to dumpsites/landfills. The depots are emptied on
a daily basis or once in two days or three days or a week. All trucks are
supposed to make three full-load trips to the dumpsite in a day.

Activity % Quantity (t/d)

1 Waste generated in Kanpur (including floating

population) 100 1,584
2 Waste collected by KNN 43 681
3 Animal scavenging 5 79.2
4 Recovery and reprocessing 14 221.8
Table V. 5 Others burning illegal dumping natural degradation
Estimation for gaps non collection, etc. 38 602
between waste generation
and collection in Kanpur Source: Prepared by authors
(2) Containers are emptied by dumper-placer and refuse collectors. A Municipal
dumper-placer replaces full or overloaded containers with an empty one. solid waste
Dumper placers and refuse collectors make three full-load trips to the dumpsite
on an average. management
(3) In areas of poor accessibility, tractors are used for collection of wastes. Depots
in such areas are manually emptied by three-five helpers (beldars) and loaded on
tractors, which take the waste to dumpsites. A tractor group makes only one 97
trip a day, on an average.

In all the above collection systems, there are no detailed predefined collection routes.
Besides the above collection, three waste streams are collected separately, viz.,
construction and debris waste, slaughterhouse waste and waste from treatment plants.
Besides, the silt left after the cleaning of drains (prior to monsoons) is also picked by
the municipal vehicle fleet. During this period, a number of collection vehicle fleet has
to be diverted from their regular tasks.
The prescribed working hours for collection is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, the
average working hours observed during the field studies was found to be only
three-four hours. No record is maintained by the municipality regarding the average
working time per vehicle.

There is no existing treatment/processing facility for treatment of municipal solid
waste in Kanpur. A compost plant with a capacity of 200 tons of compost per day was
set up in 1979 but the plant closed after half year of operation due to high presence of
inert materials in the waste and lack of technical and management skills.
For biomedical wastes, there are three incinerators installed in two different
government hospitals, but only one is operational (of the other two, one has technical
problems and one has never been in operation). A private entrepreneur, Medical
Pollution Control Committee (MPCC) established a common incinerator of capacity
10 tons in 2001 at Bhaunti for collective treatment of segregated bio-medical wastes
from various hospitals and nursing homes, against a user fee of Rs.3.50 per bed.
However, it is currently running below capacity with just 500 kilograms getting treated
due to non-compliance by various medical facilities in the city to transport the
generated waste to the centralized facility. There is no enforcement of Bio-medical
(Waste Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 by the Corporation or State Pollution
Control Board.

Recycling at household level is a frugal practice in India, Kanpur being no exception. It
thrives without any support (financial or legal) by the government. Recyclables are
retrieved from dump sites, collection depots or directly purchased from households,
institutions, etc., segregated and sold to retailers and wholesalers. In Kanpur, a
particular section of recyclers called Jogies also directly sell the collected materials with
some modification for reuse.
There are no estimates as to the number of people involved in waste recycling sector
in Kanpur city or the collected quantity of recyclable waste by various actors of the
recycling sector. Studies undertaken in cities of similar size put the estimate that some
MEQ 10 to 14 per cent of the waste is recycled. Field study shows the presence of small-scale
18,1 waste traders spread all over the city, especially along the highways. Interview held
with 40 persons from recycling sector in the city shows that the average collection by a
waste-picker is 38.35 kg per day while that for retailers/traders (small and medium) is
about 377.5 kg per day (Table VI).
However, a sale price differential of various materials is observed in this sector and
98 is presented in Table VII. The Table depicts the wide variation in the selling price of
various materials (retrieved from wastes) among various segments of the recycling
sector. The waste pickers are clearly the ones who make least profit.

Waste collected at collection depots and transported by vehicle fleet is finally brought
to the dump sites. The city does not have any sanitary landfills so far. Waste is simply
dumped at the designated sites (with or without compaction) where no soil cover is
used, no visual or environmental barriers and no provision for leachate checking exists.
The following dumpsites are available for the disposal of municipal wastes at:
Panki (16-20 acres). The site is full beyond its capacity at present and hence been
closed (in 2003). No post site-closure measures have so far been taken.
Krishna nagar (40-50 acre). It is the property of Ministry of Defense but was used
for waste disposal for a number of years. It has been closed since 2001.
Appropriate post-closure treatment is absent.
Bingawan. Currently, the municipal waste is being dumped at Bingawan. The
site is purely an open dump, adjacent to the agricultural fields at Bingawan.
There is no use of soil cover or any other preventive measures to curtail the
possible environmental pollution.

Average collection Kg/day

1 Waste picker 38.25

2 Itinerant waste-buyers(Kabadi) 89.00
3 Retailers/traders 377.50
4 Wholesalers (paper) 2,150
5 Wholesalers (scrap) 3,767
Table VI. 6 Wholesalers (plastic) 529
Average collection of
waste in Kanpur Source: Field survey conducted by Authors, Kanpur, 2004

Serial No. Type Waste paper Plastic (hard) Polypack Newspaper Glass Iron

1 Waste pickers 1.00 2.50 1.50 1.00 0.75 4.00

2 IWBs/kabadis 3.50 5.00 5.25 5.00 1.50 5.50
Table VII. 3 Retailers 4.00 6.00 8.50 5.75 2.00 6.00
Sale price differentials 4 Wholesalers 4.50 7.50 12.00 6.25 2.75 8.50
among various materials,
Kanpur (Rs/kg) Source: Field survey conducted by authors, Kanpur, 2004
Rooma (for chromium sludge). For the disposal of chromium sludge from the Municipal
waste treatment plants at Jajmau, there is a 12.4 hectare site at Rooma with no solid waste
infrastructure whatsoever to handle hazardous and toxic wastes.
Bhauti (biomedical waste). There is a site at Bhauti for disposal of the waste
coming out from the incinerator (owned by MPCC) for treatment of bio-medical
Besides the above official dump sites, the city is full of unofficial dump sites. Waste is
often openly burned in containers, on road sides, small dumps, etc. by the residents and
also by the municipal sweepers.

Legal aspects of MSWM related to disposal of collected/processed wastes

The Central Government introduced detailed Municipal Solid Wastes (Management
and Handling) Rules, 2000, to regulate the management and handling of the municipal
solid wastes. It details out the mandatory requirements to be followed for all the six
elements of Integrated Solid Waste Management.
Schedule I of the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000
had clearly given an implementation schedule of the compliance criteria to be followed
by the Municipal Authorities and is presented in Table VIII.
All or even either of the above criteria has not yet been attempted to fulfil in the
study area of Kanpur city. The situation is same for most of the Indian cities and
The municipal authorities are further required to submit a detailed annual report on
waste management to the Secretary-in charge of the Department of Urban
Development of the concerned State in case of a metropolitan city; or to the District
Magistrate or the Deputy Commissioner concerned in case of all other towns and cities,
before 30th June every year.
The Rules however, remain silent about the financial aspects of achieving the
objectives underlined by them. There is also no attempt to integrate the informal sector
engaged in waste recycling with the formal sector as Recycling is widely accepted as
the most environment friendly method to manage wastes. This aspect is completely
ignored in the Rule book. The manual also follows an open cycle for waste
management against the more eco-friendly closed cycle approach.
In spite of all these drawbacks, it is observed that there is a gross violation of all the
prescribed rules, criteria, etc. in the study area of Kanpur city. Even with the existing

Serial No. Compliance criteria Schedule

1 Setting up of waste processing and disposal facilities By 32 December 2003 or earlier

2 Monitoring the performance of waste processing and Once in six months
disposal facilities
3 Improvement of existing landfill sites as per By 31 December 2001 or earlier
provisions of these rules
4 Identification of landfill sites for future use and By 31 December 2002 or earlier Table VIII.
making site(s) ready for operation Compliance criteria for
waste processing and
Source: Manual on Solid Waste Management, 2000, Government of India disposal facilities
MEQ financial constraints, the collection efficiency in the city can be improved, recycling of
18,1 waste can be increased and improvised and open dumps can be technically improved.

Based on the above analysis and field observations, the following is observed:
100 Waste generation
The data about the most waste generating areas and along roads is not available to the
authorities. The current lifting capacity is much less as compared to the waste
generated per day.

Primary storage
There is no source-separation of wastes at various generation points like households,
institutions, commercial establishments, markets and not even hospitals. Primary
storage is done in plastic bags, containers, etc.

Primary collection
The bins are mostly in a dilapidated state so people just throw waste around the
bins (Plate 1). Peoples apathy on their role is visible in the very fact that most
people have a tendency to throw waste just outside their house. Collection points
are not conveniently located.
. The surroundings of depots and containers are very dirty as heaps of garbage is
seen lying all around the containers and depots (Plate 2).

Plate 1.
Waste lying around
solid waste


Plate 2.
Waste spread in and
around an open depot

The walls and floors of the rubbish depots are mostly damaged or broken, which
makes the lifting of waste by loader difficult. Besides, the depots become
inaccessible during monsoons.
The condition of open depots in the city is very poor (Plate 3). It gives a very dirty
look even immediately after the lifting of wastes (Plate 4).
The Dumper-placer containers are not emptied regularly. Burning of wastes by
the municipal sweepers in the containers is a common practice. The
dumper-placer containers are mostly in dilapidated state.
The Reinforced Concrete skip-containers are also in dilapidated state which leads
to littering of waste all around.
Bins of different types have been provided in an unplanned way on stretches of
various roads, which basically accounts to additional cost of diesel, manpower,
equipment etc.
The prescribed working hours for the municipal sweepers is 8 hours but due to
inadequate supervision, an average sweeper works only for 4 hours.
Malpractices in the form of contracting out of jobs by sweepers are also
observed in the city.
The equipments given to the sweepers are inadequate. Shovels and spades are
hardly available. The handcarts are usually in poor shape due to lack of
Rag-picking from the secondary storage containers and depots often result in
spreading of waste outside the waste collection points leading to further littering.


Plate 3.
Pitiable condition of an
open depot along highway

Plate 4.
Waste spill over to main
road from a rubbish depot
Secondary collection and transportation Municipal
The vehicle utilization rate of the vehicle fleet is very low, resulting in poor solid waste
collection of wastes. The average utilization rate of vehicles is just 48 per cent management
though experts believe that even with an average fall-out rate of 20 per cent, an
optimal utilization rate of 80 per cent can be achieved.
. Lack of supervision is observed even in secondary collection resulting in an
unpredictable number of drivers on leave. 103
Loaders often breakdown resulting in hampering of the work.
Poor maintenance results in frequent breakdown of vehicles. Workshops lack
sufficient budget and hence are not able to do timely repair of the vehicles.
. Deployment of vehicles and collection routes to be adopted at each depot is not
carefully planned.
There is shortage of drivers employed.
Only day shifts is practiced in Kanpur city, which often results in road blockages
and longer time for waste collection in busy and congested areas.
. Waste transportation in open trucks result in lot of littering.
Route planning is never prepared and is currently done as and when need arises.
. Fuel allocation to the vehicles is on a daily basis on a fixed basis. This often
results in malpractices by the drivers who sell the diesel for extra income. Fuel
allocation is not rational and results in high expenditure on fuel costs.
. The citizens often complain that solid waste is never lifted from its place, it is
observed that the bins are full and the waste is lying for days without being lifted
to the landfill site.
. Collection of waste as claimed by Kanpur Nagar Nigam is 1,266 tons per day.
Field studies however, done by ICDP in 1999-2000 show that it is only 680 tons
per day on an average. Field observations done by the authors also support the
latter as heaps of uncollected garbage is found all over the city.

There are no treatment facilities for the treatment of voluminous municipal waste.
Reasons identified are financial constraints, lack of motivation in the Corporation,
absence of private sector participation, etc. Even technologies like composting which
needs small capital investment is not practiced. For an effective SWM, there is an
urgent need to reduce the high volume of waste generated in ways which are
environmentally sound and cost-effective.

Dumping in low-lying areas is a common practice in the city. Even authorities like
Kanpur Development Authority (KDA) favour it. Municipal waste is often dumped on
the orders of KDA and Kanpur Municipal Corporation (KNN) for levelling of low-lying
areas. The new bus-stand at Jhakarkatti is also built on waste-levelled site. This is not
recommended as when the biodegradable part of the wastes decomposes, the volume
reduces by 60 per cent threatening the safety of the structure. Besides, the percolation
of leachate also poses water contamination.
MEQ Discussion
18,1 Based on the authors investigations and discussions with various experts in the field,
the following is observed.

Need for strategic integrated solid waste management plan

104 Despite the presence of comprehensive manuals for waste management at national
level, the existing status of solid waste management in Kanpur city is very poor. There
exists a plethora of problems due to which there is hardly any implementation of the
various policies and recommendations as prescribed by the manuals. There is a
complete lack of political will and motivation on the part of Municipal Corporation in
the city. There is public apathy as well to environmental issues, including waste
management. Besides, the local government faces financial crunch.
There is an urgent need to appoint solid waste management expert to look for
optimal solutions for an integrated solid waste management plan of the city. Though
the city has Geographic Information System (GIS) based detailed spatial maps, they are
however not used for optimal route planning and networking of collection and
transportation of waste. The existing medical doctors, who look after the job in various
capacities, do not have the requisite expertise to solve the problem(s) in a
comprehensive manner. Public participation in the form of community organizations
and NGOs and common people should be sought after while preparation of the
strategic integrated waste management plan. This would also result in rich dividends
in the form of easier implementation.
Some of the recommendations to achieve integrated solid waste management in the
city are:
Immediate preparation of a strategic integrated waste management plan in
accordance to the waste quantity, characteristics and the socio-economic and
cultural structure of the city. Prior to preparation of the plan, there is a need to do
detailed SWOT analysis of all the possible stakeholders (SWOT is an acronym
used for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of an organization
and often used in business world). This also requires formation of database on
the waste quantity, quality from various sources separately and should be
regularly updated to keep a track on the achievements/obstacles.
To improve the overall management of the Corporation and to evolve a strategy
for proper maintenance of existing vehicle fleet.
Financial management and proper cost-accounting can solve the problems faced
by implementing agency (KNN) to some extent.
Promote awareness on waste prevention and the necessity of waste segregation
at source through educational campaigns and media.
To implement appropriate economic instruments for cost recovery to lessen the
burden of municipal corporation while achieving social equity at the same time.
Promote the development and adoption of appropriate technologies for the
conversion of MSW to compost and encourage markets for its use as a soil
To promote indigenous technologies which are inexpensive and labor intensive.
To provide an enabling environment for active private sector participation in the Municipal
field of waste management. solid waste
To convert the existing dump-sites to engineered sanitary landfill sites; regular management
monitoring of air, water and land quality at the existing dump sites and the
proposed landfills in future, to prevent further damage to the environment and
also to take appropriate remedial measures wherever possible to revert the
damage already done. 105
To promote and support informal waste recycling sector already working in the
city in innovative ways.

Possible scenarios for effective solid waste management

There are two possible course of action for making the existing system of solid waste
management more efficient, cost-effective, socially and environmentally acceptable:
(1) Centralized SWM system. This will be an improved version of the existing
system. A Corporation with a clearly defined SWM plan as per the guidelines
laid by the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000
will exist. The collection, transportation, treatment and final disposal will be all
centralized and controlled by the Municipal Corporation. Even with slight
changes in the existing team of the Corporation and good management, things
can really improve in Kanpur. The system is easier to implement as only the
existing system has to be improvised. However, for this system to be Integrated
SWM in real terms, there is a need of high capital investment apart from the
operation and maintenance costs.
(2) Decentralized SWM system. In this type of system, the Corporation acts more
as a facilitator. It involves private sector, existing informal sector engaged in
waste recycling, NGOs/CBOs and common people for management of various
elements of ISWM. Many combinations can be tried under this system and
needs careful and detailed planning as per the socio-economic, cultural and
geographical requirements of the city. This system has the potential of being
cost-effective as well as wider implementation due to public support. The
model has been tried successfully in small residential colonies in few cities.
This system unlike the centralized system will take more time to implement
as bringing consensus among all the stakeholders is a time consuming

Table IX gives a comparative analysis of the potential of above two systems in the
context of study area-Kanpur city.
The pros and cons of the above two scenarios thus indicate that in the long term,
following a decentralized SWM system will bring better results in the system in the
existing socio-economic conditions of the study area. It needs further thorough
investigation and is in progress by the authors.

Increasing urbanization is bound to increase the amount of waste a city produces.
Management of solid wastes by the government organizations has not been successful
and is rather poor in most of the Indian urban centers, including Kanpur. The amount
Serial No. Item Centralized Decentralized
1 Capital High Low to medium
2 Labour cost High Cheap
3 Public participation Low-medium High-very high
4 Collection cost High Low
106 5 Transfer and transportation High Less
6 Treatment and Processing High Low to medium
7 Landfill cost High Minimum
8 Public awareness Low-medium High
9 Public-private partnership Low-medium Strong
10 Informal sector participation Weak Strong
11 Success rate of various SW
treatment technologies
Incineration Failure in most places; Not required
successful with high
environmental costs
Centralized composting Failure
Decentralized composting Successful (mixed results in
and windrow composting few places)
Biomethanisation Experimental stages Not required
Formal materials recovery Required Not required
Informal recycling Absent Strong
Table IX. 12 Role of NGOs/CBOs Weak-medium Strong
Comparative analysis of 13 Role of Government Executing agency Facilitator
centralized and 14 Cost recovery Low-medium Medium-high
decentralized SWM 15 Stipulated outcome Successful with high capital Successful with low capital
system costs costs

of uncollected waste is most likely to increase with increasing urbanization. Among the
possible scenarios, it is clear that there are two clear options for efficient solid waste
management-centralized and decentralized. However, to achieve financial
sustainability, socio-economic and environmental goals in the field of municipal
solid waste management, there is a need to systematically analyse the strengths and
weaknesses of the community as well as the Municipal Corporation, based on which an
effective decentralized system can be evolved with the participation of various
stakeholders in Kanpur city. Sensitization of the community is also essential to achieve
the above objective. The public apathy can be altered by awareness building
campaigns and educational measures.
We need to act and act fast as the city is already a hotbed of many contagious
diseases, most of which are caused by ineffective waste management. To prevent any
epidemic and to make the city a healthy city-economically and environmentally, there
is an urgent need for a well-defined strategic waste management plan and a strong
implementation of the same.
References Municipal
CPCB (1997), State of Environment of Kanpur, Internal Report, Internal Report, Central Pollution solid waste
Control Board.
Hoornweg, D.L.T. and Verma, K. (1999), What a Waste, Solid Waste Management in Asia,
World Bank, Urban Development Sector Unit, East Asia and Pacific Region.
ICDP-Phase 1 (1996), Solid Waste Management in Kanpur and Mirzapur, Technical Report 13,
Institutional and Community Development Project. 107
ICDP-Phase 2 (2001), Bio-medical Waste Management in Kanpur, Institutional and Community
Development Project.
ICDP-Phase 2 (2001), Solid Waste Management in Kanpur, Technical Report 27, Institutional and
Community Development Project.
Kalubarme, M.H., Baldev, S. and Avarani, S. (1985), Mapping and change detection in urban
landuse of Surat City, Proceedings of VI Asian Conference on Remote Sensing, pp. 103-8.
Kanpur Nagar Nigam (n.d.), Municipal Report, various years, Kanpur Nagar Nigam.
McDougall, F.R., White, P.R., Franke, M. and Hindle, P. (2001), Integrated Solid Waste
Management: A Lifecycle Inventory, Blackwell Science, London.
Robinson, W.D. (1986), The Solid Waste Handbook: A Practical Guide, John Wiley & Sons,
Srivastava, G.P. (2002), New dimensions of labour absorption and income generation in an
urban economy: a case study of selected units of waste recycle industry, unpublished PhD
thesis, CSJM University, Kanpur.
World Resource Foundation (1996), So what is integrated waste management?, Warmer
Bulleting: Journal of the World Resource Foundation, No. 49.

Further reading
Gomti River Pollution Control Project (1996), Engineering and environmental management
options, Lucknow.
MOUDPA (2000), Manual on Municipal Solid Waste Management, Ministry of Urban
Development and Poverty Alleviation, Government of India Publications, New Delhi.
NEERI (1996), Strategy Paper on Solid Waste Management in India, National Environmental
Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur.
Vishvanathan, S. (2000), Health: semiotics of waste, Survey of the Environment, The Hindu,
pp. 95-101.

GAP Ganga Action Plan
ICDP Institutional and Community Development Project
IWB Itinerant Waste Buyers (Kabadi)
ISWM Integrated Solid Waste Management
KDA Kanpur Nagar Nigam
MPCC Medical Pollution Control Committee
MSWM Municipal Solid Waste Management
MEQ About the authors
Hina Zia is an architect-planner. She is currently pursuing her research on Integrated Solid
18,1 Waste Management in a metropolitan city. Her areas of interest include infrastructure planning,
urban planning, rural development, energy management, ecology, sustainable development, etc.
She is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:
Dr V. Devadas is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture and Planning. He
is MA (Eco.), MA (Rural Development), MPhil (Micro Level Planning) and PhD (Planning). His
108 areas of interest include: urban and rural development planning; urban renewal; housing;
infrastructure; capacity building; sustainable development; natural resource planning and
management; renewable energy planning and management; land use planning; tourism; inland
waterways and transportation.

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