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New Delhi: To prevent people living in areas around landfill sites from impact of high pollution from them, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has now proposed guidelines to keep and maintain a buffer zone around them.

The current solid waste management practice in India envisages different treatment technologies followed by disposal of garbage in secured landfill sites.

Composting, vermin-composting, biogas, refuse derived fuel (RDF), pelletization, waste-to-energy measures are some of the ways that are being attempted to deal with huge amount of solid waste disposal.

“Disposal of wastes in landfills is the least preferred management as it impacts on the surrounding environment. Landfill sites encompass waste processing/disposal facilities, which become sources of pollution in terms of air, water, land and noise pollution besides emitting foul smell. Therefore, provision of buffer zone around these facilities is essentially required to prevent people living in the surrounding from exposure/impacts of such pollutants," said the draft guidelines issued by CPCB last week.

The draft guideline, titled For Maintaining Buffer Around Waste Processing and Disposal Facilities, explained that buffer zone also acts as barrier, absorber and to some extent as remedial measures against the fugitive emissions of pollutants observed during handling of waste, storage, transportation and movements of traffics.

“Buffer zone is also equally important for any processing facility as the processing activities directly or indirectly generate pollution in the area," the guidelines said.

The draft also noted that most of the existing landfill sites have no adequate buffer zone and the available areas are also under illegal encroachment.

The main objective behind the guidelines is to “minimize the risk of adverse impacts on the environment (land, air, water, noise), promote responsible land management and conservation, promote responsible management of hazards and loss of amenity and to encourage new technological interventions depending on the processing facilities".

Solid waste management is a major issue in developing countries like India which is in throes of rapid urbanization. Identification of landfill site in such cities has become a challenging issue for the municipalities. It is estimated that at present around 62 million tonnes of solid waste is generated every year in the country but only 43 million tonnes is collected and only 12 millions tonnes is treated.

Though the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 had specified the terminology of Buffer Zone, the rule was silent about its dimension.

But the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) last year revised the rules and notified the Solid Waste Management (SWM) rules 2016. The new rules makes it a duty of CPCB to publish guidelines for maintaining buffer zone restricting any residential, commercial or any other construction activity from the outer boundary of the waste processing and disposal facilities for different sizes of facilities handling more than five tons per day of solid waste.

The draft guidelines by CPCB are in line with that.

The 2016 solid waste rules had said that, “a buffer zone of no development shall be maintained around solid waste processing and disposal facility, exceeding five Tonnes per day of installed capacity".

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