Demystifying C&D Waste Governance in India: Part 1

The governance of waste seems like a complex matter, while it really shouldn’t be. For waste management to be effective, laws governing it should be crystal clear to all stakeholders - from the urban local body down to the average urban resident! So in this 2-part article series, we shed light on what are the *must-knows* about the governance of Malba in India.

Shamita Chaudhary
Min Read

Part 1 of this article series focuses on the Administrators - i.e. the government bodies and their roles. Part 2 focuses on the Executors - i.e. the waste generators, transporters, recyclers etc.

In this article you will learn what are the latest Rules for C&D waste management, the main stakeholders they cover, each stakeholder’s responsibility, and the mechanisms set up by the state to facilitate proper waste management. Apart from this, we add in some loopholes we see in these Rules and potential amendments that could make them more effective. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

The Administrators of C&D Waste

The overarching Rules for C&D waste management are called the Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 [1]. After the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 [2] which encompassed all waste streams under one umbrella, the 2016 Rules are a welcome change. They distinguish between different waste streams and create specific Rules for handling each one of them. Apart from C&D Waste, in 2016 we also got specific Rules now for Plastic, Hazardous Waste, E-waste and Biomedical Waste, to name a few.

For this article, we refer to the Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016 only, and will hereon call them the “Rules”.

In India, we have a decentralised form of government divided into the Central, State, and Local governments. In the urban setting, these local governments are the municipal corporations, while in the rural setting, there is the Panchayati Raj system. As per the Rules, here are the most important malba administrators and their duties you should know.  

Central Government

At the Central Government level, there are 2 main stakeholders -

  1. Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC)
  2. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

The MoEFCC is the main body making the Rules as well as reviewing their implementation periodically. In case of any future amendments, they will be done by this body. The CPCB is the main regulatory body that is focused on monitoring the environmental impacts of C&D waste. In 2017, it came out with the “Guidelines on Environmental Management of Construction & Demolition (C&D) Wastes” [3] which lays out the major pollutants to be mindful of with respect to C&D waste. Its job is to analyse and collate reports from the various State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) across India and present them to MoEFCC.

State Government

At the State or Union Territory level, there are 3 main stakeholders:

  1. State Government / Union Territory Administration  
  2. State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) / Pollution Control Committee (PCC)
  3. Town and Country Planning Department

Their duties are as follows:

  • The State Government is responsible for preparing a “policy document” from the Rules (remember that the Rules up till now were not enforceable policy). As per Schedule III in the Rules, this had to be done within one year of notification of the Rules i.e. in 2017. In the case of Delhi, Malba Project has been unable to find such a policy.
  • The State is also responsible for “providing suitable sites for setting up of the storage, processing and recycling facilities for construction and demolition waste.” In Malba Project’s experience in Delhi, five recycling facilities exist, and a few open containers for C&D waste storage in the NDMC zone. However, over two hundred collection points that were allocated for the storage of C&D waste for the rest of Delhi are barely functional.
  • Mandate the procurement (10-20%) of recycled materials for government projects. In the case of Delhi, an advisory regarding the uptake of C&D recycled products was published in 2015 [4] followed by an order for the same in 2016 [5]. It mandates a minimum 2% use for building works, 10% use in roadworks, and 5% use in non-structural applications, even for private individuals. The order necessitates modifications in existing bye-laws to enforce this at the time of building plan approval. In Malba Project’s experience, the stipulated offtake  
  • The SPCB or PCC monitors the implementation of these Rules by the urban local bodies and reports the same to the CPCB and the State Government or Union Territory administration in the form of an annual report. In this report, they also make suggestions to improve the system.
  • The Town and Country Planning Department ensures the incorporation of the recycling infrastructure into the land use plan of the state.

" urban malba governance, the Urban Local Body (ULB) is the key stakeholder. The ULB is the direct interface between the Executers and the Administrators. It is the most in tune with the contextual challenges of their city, and as per the Rules, has been assigned 11 duties."
- Shamita Chaudhary

Urban Local Body

While the Centre sets the overarching Rules, the State creates the framework for implementation through Policy and Infrastructure, it is important to note that in urban malba (C&D waste) governance, the Urban Local Body (ULB) is a key stakeholder. The ULB is the direct interface between the Executers and the Administrators. It is the most in tune with the contextual challenges of their city, and as per the Rules, has been assigned 11 duties [1].

We combine them into 8 key points below:

  1. Issue detailed directions:
  2. For how C&D waste will be handled within its jurisdiction.
  3. Chalk out stages, methodology, equipment, and material involved in the overall activity and final clean-up after completion of C&D activities
  4. Safe disposal of C&D waste contaminated with industrial hazardous, toxic, or nuclear materials.
  5. Establish Collection Facilities: Make arrangements for proper collection and handling of waste by placing appropriate containers, and ensuring they are regularly removed when full, using their own resources, or by appointing private operators.
  6. Arrange Transport till Processing: Shall get the collected waste transported to appropriate sites for processing and disposal either through their own resources or by appointing private operators.
  7. Sanction Waste Management Plans: Examine and sanction waste management plans within one month from the date of approval of the building plan.
  8. Maintain Waste Database: Keep track of the generation of C&D waste within its jurisdiction and maintain a database that is annually updated.
  9. Setup of C&D Waste Processing Facility: Shall devise appropriate measures in consultation with expert institutions for the management of C&D waste generated including processing facility and for using the recycled products in the best possible manner.
  10. Conduct IEC Activities: Shall raise awareness about the waste stream through collaboration with expert institutions, civil societies, and its own website.
  11. Provide Incentives: Shall make provision for giving incentives for:
  12. Use of material made out of C&D waste in the construction activity
  13. Salvaging, processing and or recycling preferably in situ

Standards Making Bodies

While a lot is stated about how this waste will be recycled, it all falls flat if no one uses it. So to solve that problem, the Rules also include the following bodies:

  1. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
  2. Indian Road Congress

Their duties as per the Rules are “preparation of code of practices and standards for use of recycled materials and products of construction and demolition waste in respect of construction activities”[1].

In 2016, BIS came out with the IS 383:2016 [6] which finally gave legitimacy to the use of Recycled Aggregates and Recycled Concrete Aggregates in construction, albeit for non-structural purposes only. Then in 2017, the Indian Road Congress released the IRC:121-2017 or the ‘Guidelines for Use of Construction and Demolition Waste in Road Sector[7] that specified standards pertaining to the construction of roads and embankments specifically using the above-stated recycled materials.

Government Bodies involved in C&D Waste Management in India (© Malba Project)

Objectively speaking, the C&D Waste Management Rules 2016 are a wonderful start to chalking out key stakeholders and their responsibilities pertaining to C&D waste management. However, the Rules certainly get lost in translation by the time they reach the State and City levels.

Taking the example of Delhi again, one finds that the capital city is yet to have an enforceable policy document for C&D Waste Management! In Delhi, there is an order mandating the uptake of products made with recycled C&D waste, but without proper policy, incentives, enforcement of waste management plans at the building plan sanctioning stage, and establishment of collection facilities, it is like buying a shiny Ferrari without having a drivers license!

Without enforceable policy and appropriate policy instruments in place, residents do not benefit from these capital-intensive amenities that their tax rupees are paying for.

Stay tuned for the next article that is on the roles of the Executors (which could be you) in the governance of Malba!

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Shamita Chaudhary
June 5, 2023
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