Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: It looks quite paradoxical. Odisha figured among the top - 15 Solid Waste (SW) generators in the country in 2018. But the State had last year finished among the bottom -6 in processing of SW in the country.

Since solid waste processing is the nerve centre of  Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), it seems the ambitious SBM may go kaput in the State.

Among the major 19 States in the country, the nagging fact to fore is Odisha is only ahead of West Bengal in the indicator of SW processing. The State had been clubbed along with hilly and north-eastern States as poor performers in SW processing in the country.

As per the data available with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), the growth of SW in Odisha in 2018 was a whopping 11 per cent.

The alarming fact is the year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of solid waste is higher than the y-o-y GSDP growth of the State. The GSDP growth of Odisha in 2018-19 was projected at 8.5 per cent.

The SW generated in the State during 2018 was provisionally estimated at around 10.83 lakh metric tonnes (LMT). Odisha saw SW generation to the tune of over 9.72LMT in 2017, the OSPCB data revealed. A high of around 3,000 MT of wastes are generated every day in Odisha. And the State's seven tier - I cities account for nearly 30 per cent of the total SW generated daily in the State. The SW generation in State Capital alone accounts for around 40 per cent of the total SW generated per day in seven tier - I cities in Odisha.

The SPCB data further revealed that nearly 50 per cent of the solid wastes generated in the State are of compostable nature. And around 15 per cent are recyclable. Food left outs constitute the major SWs generated in the State. Plastic comes second. However, SPCB data claimed that Odisha has the capacity to treat municipal solid wastes to the tune of 30tonnes/day.

What is compostable waste? Wastes that are capable of getting degraded biologically.

Environmentalists and urban planners view the rising solid waste enormity in the State as very grave. Unless the Housing and Urban Development (H&UD) department in the State gives an immediate attention to the menacing Solid Waste (SW) generation vis-a-vis the abysmal processing, the SW is going to pose a serious challenge to the living environment of the growing cities in the State, they cautioned.

Significantly, SW management has not made it into the list of priorities of the H&UD department. There has been no stock taking meet called on in Secretariat till date, when the State was in bottom - 6 in SW processing in the country.