Keeping cities clean is essential for keeping their residents healthy. Our health depends not just on personal hygiene and nutrition, but critically also on how clean we keep our cities and their surroundings. The spread of dengue and chikungunya are intimately linked to the deteriorating state of public health conditions in our cities.
The good news is that waste management to keep cities clean is now getting attention through the Swachh Bharat Mission. However, much of the attention begins and stops with the brooms and the dustbins, extending at most to the collection and transportation of the mixed waste to some distant or not so distant place, preferably out of sight.
The challenge of processing and treating the different streams of solid waste, and safe disposal of the residuals in scientific landfills, has received much less attention in municipal solid waste management than is expected from a health point of view.
One of the problems is that instead of focusing on waste management for health, we have got sidetracked into “waste for energy”. If only we were to begin by not mixing the biodegradable component of solid waste (close to 60 per cent of the total) in our cities with the dry waste, and instead use this stream of waste for composting and producing a gas called methane.
City compost from biodegradable waste provides an alternative to farmyard manure (like cow-dung). It provides an opportunity to simultaneously clean up our cities and help improve agricultural productivity and quality of the soil. Organic manure or compost plays a very important role as supplement to chemical fertilisers in enriching the nutrient-deficient soils. City compost can be the new player in the field.
Benefits of compost on the farm are well-known. The water holding capacity of the soil which uses compost helps with drought-proofing, and the requirement of less water per crop is a welcome feature for a water-stressed future. By making the soil porous, use of compost also makes roots stronger and resistant to pests and decay. Farmers using compost, therefore, need less quantity of pesticides. There is also evidence to suggest that horticulture crops grown with compost have better flavour, size, colour and shelf-life.
City compost has the additional advantage of being weed-free, unlike farmyard manure which brings with it the seeds of undigested grasses and requires a substantial labour cost for weeding as the crops grow. City compost is also rich in organic carbon, and our soils are short in this. Farmers clearly recognize the value of city compost. If city waste was composted before making it available to the farmers for applying to the soil, cities would be cleaned up and the fields around them would be much more productive.
Quite apart from cleaning up the cities of biodegradable waste, this would be a major and sustainable contribution to improving the health of our soil, without further damage by excessive chemical inputs. What a marvellous change from waste to health.
The good news is that some states are regularly laying plastic roads. Plastic roads will not only withstand future-monsoon damage but will also solve a city’s problem of disposing of non-recyclable plastic. It is clear that if the mountains of waste from our cities were to be recycled into road construction material, it would tackle the problem of managing waste while freeing up scarce land.
Q. On the basis of your understanding of the above passage, make notes on it using headings and sub-headings. Use recognisable abbreviations wherever necessary (minimum four) and a format you consider suitable. Also supply and appropriate title to it.
- Reasons for keeping cities clean
- Keeps surroundings clean
- Prevents the spread of dengue and chikungunya.
- Promotes overall health.
- Waste Management-Problems
- No focus on waste management from health point of view.
- Processing and treating different streams of solid waste.
- Safe disposal of residuals in scientific landfills.
- Sidetracked into ‘waste for energy’.
- Advantages—City Compost
- Provides alternative to farmyard manure.
- Opportunity to clean cities.
- Improves agricultural productivity.
- Better quality of soil.
- Supplements chemical fertilizers.
- Enriches nutrient deficient soils.
- Weed free.
- Rich in organic carbon.
- Advantages—Farm Compost
- H20 holding capacity—helps drought proofing.
- Requires less water per crop.Makes soil porous—roots stronger.
- Use of less pesticides.
- Horticulture crops—
- better flavour
- Advantages—Plastic roads
- Withstands future monsoon damage
- Solves problem — disposing non-recyclable plastic.
- Better waste management
- Frees up scarce land.
- attn. – attention
- H2O – water
- qty. – quality
- diff. – different
- chem. – chemical
- & – and
- agri. – agriculture
- mgmt. – management
Q. Write a summary of the passage in about 80 words.
Cleanliness in cities keeps residents healthy and prevents the spread of diseases such as dengue and chikungunya. The Swachh Bharat Mission instituted by the government is beset by a lot of challenges. City compost from biodegradable waste has a lot of advantages. It improves agricultural productivity, is weed free and enriches nutrient-deficient soils as it is rich in organic carbon. Farm compost is equally beneficial. Use of such compost in soil enhances the water holding capacity and thus, there is less requirement of water per crop. It makes the soil porous and roots stronger and resistant to pests and decay. With plastic roads, there is less monsoon damage and it simultaneously solves the city’s problem of disposing non-recyclable plastic. Moreover, it also tackles problem of managing waste while freeing up scarce land.