Recognising the rag-pickers’ vital role in solid waste management, the government has decided to register and regularise them, union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said here on Tuesday.
It has also been decided to criminalise open burning of waste. Announcing the revised rules for solid waste management, the minister said the government would also provide better healthcare facilities to the ragpickers.
Revised after 16 years – as the rules were first laid down in 2000 – the new rules would come into effect from Wednesday, the minister said.
Under the new rules, sanitary napkins and diapers would not be allowed to be dumped in the open. Instead, the manufacturers would be asked to provide dumping pouches for them.
Open dumping of sanitary napkins and diapers posed a health threat to the ragpickers among other detrimental effects on the environment, the minister said.
“This is in conformation with the”‘extended producer responsibility” concept where the producer would also be responsible for managing the end waste of the product,” Javadekar explained.
On criminalising open burning of waste, Javadekar said: “To curb open burning of solid waste strict action would be taken like considering it a crime under EP Act (Environment Protection Act), though it would also depend upon local governance.”
“Every year 62 million tons solid waste is produced in India of which only 12 million tons is treated,” the minister said.