State of municipal solid waste management in Delhi, the capital of India

Vikash Talyan, R P Dahiya, T R Sreekrishnan
Waste Management 2008, 28 (7): 1276-87
Delhi is the most densely populated and urbanized city of India. The annual growth rate in population during the last decade (1991-2001) was 3.85%, almost double the national average. Delhi is also a commercial hub, providing employment opportunities and accelerating the pace of urbanization, resulting in a corresponding increase in municipal solid waste (MSW) generation. Presently the inhabitants of Delhi generate about 7000tonnes/day of MSW, which is projected to rise to 17,000-25,000tonnes/day by the year 2021. MSW management has remained one of the most neglected areas of the municipal system in Delhi. About 70-80% of generated MSW is collected and the rest remains unattended on streets or in small open dumps. Only 9% of the collected MSW is treated through composting, the only treatment option, and rest is disposed in uncontrolled open landfills at the outskirts of the city. The existing composting plants are unable to operate to their intended treatment capacity due to several operational problems. Therefore, along with residue from the composting process, the majority of MSW is disposed in landfills. In absence of leachate and landfill gas collection systems, these landfills are a major source of groundwater contamination and air pollution (including generation of greenhouse gases). This study describes and evaluates the present state of municipal solid waste management in Delhi. The paper also summarizes the proposed policies and initiatives of the Government of Delhi and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to improve the existing MSW management system.

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