India Generates An Estimated 150 Million Tonnes Of Construction And Demolition Waste Every Year
Environment

India Generates An Estimated 150 Million Tonnes Of Construction And Demolition Waste Every Year

Official recycling capacity is a meagre 6,500 tonnes per day (TPD) -- just about 1 per cent.

Mohit Dubey

Mohit Dubey

NEW DELHI || According to the Building Material Promotion Council (BMPTC), India generates an estimated 150 million tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste every year. But the official recycling capacity is a meagre 6,500 tonnes per day (TPD) -- just about 1 per cent. What’s more, unofficial estimates of the total waste generated in the country put the figure at three-five times more than the official estimate.

A new analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), released here on Wednesday at a national online Round Table, has laid bare some of these unpleasant truths about the way the country is managing its C&D waste. Another Brick off the Wall: Improving construction and demolition waste management in Indian cities – as the analysis report is titled – also goes on to recommend a viable plan of action.

Releasing the report at the Round Table, CSE director general Sunita Narain said: “Our study shows that as many as 53 cities were expected to set up recycling facilities to recover material from C&D waste by 2017 – but only 13 cities have done that by 2020. This is unacceptable when the demand for primary building material, including minerals, stone, sand, iron ore, aluminum, and timber, is growing at an unprecedented rate".

She went on to add: “A significant proportion of construction waste can be recycled and reused and brought back to construction to substitute naturally sourced material. This demands a circular economy that can turn C&D waste into a resource. This can help reduce energy intensity and environmental footprints of buildings and infrastructure.”

Speaking at the meeting, Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE and the head of the Centre’s Sustainable Urbanisation programme, said: “Heaps of concrete, bricks and metal waste from construction are choking waterbodies, green areas and public spaces in our cities. Toxic dust particles from the debris are polluting air, at a time when cities have to reduce their particulate pollution by 20-30 per cent by 2024, under the ongoing National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

CSE researchers point out that the sorry state of affairs exists notwithstanding the removal of legal hurdles to using recycled C&D material in construction. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has allowed the use of concrete made from recycled material and processed C&D waste.TheConstruction and Demolition Waste Rules and Regulations, 2016 have mandated reuse of recycled material.

Even the Swachh Bharat Mission has recognised the need for C&D waste management. Ranking points for C&D waste management for Swachh Survekshan2021 have been doubled to 100 points, divided equally between management infrastructure and waste processing efficiency. Cities will need to have a C&D waste collection system in place; notified charges for C&D services; and segregation of waste in five streams. Under waste processing efficiency criteria, ranking points will be awarded based on the percentage of collected waste that is processed and reused.

Said Roychowdhury: “This recognition by the Swachh Bharat Mission and the C&D Waste Rules offers an opportunity -- cities will need strong preparedness for this. Our new study has carried out a detailed analysis of the current C&D challenge as well as technical and regulatory barriers to implementation of the Rules. It has identified strategies needed to accelerate the implementation of the Rules and market up take of recycled material. The analysis is supported by ground-reality checks in multiple cities.”

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