1. What is the need for the Kerala Solid Waste Management Project?

The state of Kerala generates about 2.2 million tons of solid waste annually in its urban areas. This includes garbage from homes, offices, shops as well as industries, institutions, etc. Though attempts have been made to bring in a scientific system for the collection, treatment, and disposal of the waste generated, success in that direction has not yet been reached. Despite recent efforts by citizens and city administrations, a major proportion of this waste continues to get dumped in open spaces which clog city drains and pollute local water bodies. Uncollected and untreated waste in dumps can become breeding grounds for pests, germs, and diseases, posing a serious hazard to public health and the environment.

The Kerala Solid Waste Management Project has been designed to strengthen the existing solid waste management system with the aim of ensuring that the towns and cities of Kerala are clean and livable. The Government of Kerala is being supported by the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in this project, which will help the state adopt global best practices in managing its solid waste.

2. What is the scope of the Project?

The project supports solid waste management in the 93 Urban Local Bodies in the State. The project provides for strengthening the ULBs through policy initiatives, technical support, additional human resources, training and capacity building of existing staff, and financial support for the development of SWM facilities for processing and disposal. The project also ensures the development of regional-level SWM infrastructure facilities for centralised management of solid waste.

3. What is the Project cost? What is the duration of the Project?

The total outlay of the Project is 300 million US Dollars (approx. Rs 2400 crores), out of which the World Bank’s contribution will be 105 million US Dollars and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) contribution will be 105 million US Dollars and the State Government’s contribution will be 90 million US Dollars. The total project implementation duration is 6 years. (2021-27).

4. Who will implement the activities?

A State Project Management Unit (SPMU) has been set up under the Local Self Government Department( LSGD) to oversee the implementation of the KSWMP. While most ground-level interventions in the cities will be implemented under the respective ULB, Project Implementation Units (PIUs) of KSWMP in the respective ULBs will facilitate the ground-level planning implementation and monitoring activities of the project. At the district level, DPMUs                ( District Project Management Unit) with more resources in specific areas of expertise shall oversee the activities of the city-level PIUs and coordinate with the SPMU for review and approvals of the project components and release of funds to the ULBs. The SPMU will be in charge of the state-level policy formulation and implementation of the entire scope of the project including planning and implementation of the regional infrastructure projects. The Project Steering Committee headed by the Chief Secretary of the state provides overall oversight and guidance to the project implementation.

5. What benefits can citizens expect from this project?

People living in the 93 Urban Local Bodies are expected to benefit from this project. The Project will help improve the entire SWM chain in the towns and cities state, from segregation, collection, transportation, and processing to the scientific treatment or disposal of biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. This will help lead to better health and environmental outcomes for the citizens of these cities and make the state’s towns and cities cleaner and more livable.

6. What is the role of ULBs in the implementation of the project?

ULBs are the primary agency responsible for ensuring solid waste management in their jurisdiction and ensuring a litter- and pollution-free environment for their citizens. The project is designed to support the ULBs in strengthening their institutional and service delivery systems for SWM. The project also offers technical and project management support to the ULBs through SPMU, DPMU, PIU and consultancies. 50 percent of the total project fund to the tune of USD 150 million will be allocated as financial support to the ULBs for the sub-projects implemented by them.

7. What are the criteria for the Grants for the ULBs?

The total financial support to the ULBs comes to the tune of USD 150 million as Basic & Incentive Grants. 40% of the total amount is the Basic grant for the ULBs to be offered as soon as they sign the participation agreement and the remaining 60% will be offered as incentives based on the performance of each ULB.

Fulfilment of the following criteria makes the ULB eligible for the Incentive Grant.

a) Preparation of a 5-year city-wide plan for a climate-smart and disaster-resilient SWM system
b) Issuance of SWM by-laws that incorporate the principles of GoK’s new SWM strategy
c) Confirmation of access to use the land facility for safe disposal of wastes

8. Will the Project take into account the suggestions/concerns of citizens?

Public participation is a key element of the project implementation in every stage of KSWMP. SWM plans for each ULBS will be prepared with the support of technical support consultant through an extensive consultation process. Also, the SWM plan for each ULB and the sub-projects in this plan shall necessarily undergo direct public review at the Ward Sabhas and Development seminars and subsequently follow the Annual Development Plan process for approval. The existing statutory mechanism for citizen engagement is an integral part of the Project in the ADP process. Public hearings and consultation for appraising the community on the environmental & social impacts and mitigation measures are also mandatory for KSWMP. Thus, the public consensus is an integral part of all aspects of the project.

9. Is there a grievance redressal system where citizens can register their complaints about the project?

Yes. Grievance Redressal Mechanism is an integral part of the project. A web-based system hosted on the official website of KSWMP and a toll-free contact point at SPMU is operational. Further, social media will be actively monitored for addressing the concerns of the public and stakeholders. The complaint registered through toll-free number, website, email, social media pages, and complaint boxes of ULBs and KSWMP will be addressed promptly.

The SPMU will monitor the complaints lodged through these channels for project and service delivery issues and resolve them through the appropriate channels. The project shall also resolve the project-specific issues lodged in the Chief Minister’s Public Grievance Redressal Portal, a 24 x 7 online platform.

Toll-free no: 18004250238
E-mail: grmkswmp@gmailcom
Chief Minister’s Public Grievance Redressal Portal: https://cmo.kerala.gov.in/

10. The project has a limited lifespan. How will KSWMP ensure that the services and infrastructure put into place are sustained once the project period is over?

Even though the project period is limited to 6 years, the SWM plan to be prepared for each ULB is considering a time period of 25 years and the sub-projects taken up for implementation under the project are based on this. Also, the project is not only designed to create infrastructure facilities but will develop a system for its sustainable operation and maintenance; the ULBs are expected to carry forward these systems, and the project will include capacity building for the ULBs to do so. It ensures effective monitoring through capacity building and institutional strengthening

  1. What is a Scientific Landfill (SLF)?

Scientific landfills are carefully designed facilities for the final disposal of waste in a safe manner so that it does not pollute the environment or affect public health for communities living nearby.  . 

Unlike dumpsites, SLFs are designed, constructed, and operated using state-of-the-art construction and engineering methods to ensure that the stored waste does not pollute either the soil, the air or water in the area. 

How does an SLF work?

A scientific landfill is a pit lined at the bottom with impermeable layer consisting of clay and high density polyethylene (HDPE). Waste is then deposited in layers and compacted down using heavy machinery, and then covered over with soil. The alternative layering of garbage and soil helps the waste decompose quickly but safely. A scientifically built landfill also traps any harmful gases such as methane emitted by the decomposition process. This methane can be collected to generate electricity instead of being released into the atmosphere. The landfill also has a drainage system to capture any leachate (liquid emissions) from the waste and prevent it from polluting the surrounding land or nearby water sources. When a landfill is full, it is sealed with topsoil, and once deemed safe, the area can be re-purposed for a garden or park or any other use that people want. 

The figure below provides an overview of its basic components.

  • Why do we need a scientific landfill?

Landfills are an important part of any modern urban waste management system, and the last link in the waste management chain.  In Kerala today, most of the biodegradable waste generated in towns and cities is treated at source by composting.  The non-biodegradable waste is collected from people’s houses, offices, hospitals etc and taken to waste processing and treatment facilities, or else reused.  More than 90% of our waste is disposed of in these ways.  However, there is some residual waste, such as non-biodegradable, non-compostable that can neither be reused, nor processed and treated by these standard methods. This hard-to-dispose waste needs to be sent to a purpose-built landfill for scientific disposal. 

Landfills are hence required for the proper scientific disposal of non-recyclable, non-combustible, non-hazardous non-biodegradable waste. If this residual waste is not landfilled, it will lie around in open dumpsite is polluting the soil, air and water pollution, and pose hazards to public health. Hence, it is important for every local body to have access to an engineered scientific landfill for the disposal of residual waste.

  1. How does a scientific landfill differ from a dumpsite?

Scientific landfills are located at sites that satisfy the critical environmental and social parameters laid down in the SWM Rules 2016, including being located at a safe distance from where people live, or from water sources.  Dump sites, on the other hand, can be situated anywhere and are often found near people’s houses, local water sources etc. As dumpsites are open piles of waste, they are often smelly, infested with flies, rats and other vermin and thus pose risks to people’s health and the local environment.   

Scientific landfills are used for the disposal of only residual waste, which is properly laid, compacted, and covered during operations. They are thus designed to make sure that they do not pollute the soil, air or water around them.

Scientific landfilling is a mature and proven waste management technique. A properly designed scientific landfill includes a land area with an impermeable liner at the bottom. The liner prevents liquid contaminants (leachate) from polluting ground water and seeping into the soil. A properly designed landfill also has a leachate collection mechanism that allows the liquid contaminant to be further treated as needed. At a properly managed landfill, residual waste is compacted to conserve space, and a cover material is applied over the residual waste on a regular basis to control odour, blowing litter, and other nuisances.
These precautions are absent in dumpsites. A dumpsite is also prone to frequent fires due to methane gas generation from the decomposition of organic matter and the presence of combustible material.

Scientific landfills are designed and developed utilising engineering principles to ensure environmental protection and a better quality of life for human beings in the surrounding regions. They are also rigorously monitored to make sure that they do not pollute the environment or pose fire hazards.

  1. What type of waste and from where the waste will be brought to scientific landfill?

Only Non-Biodegradable, Non-recyclable, and Non-Combustible waste that is mostly inert in nature is brought to a landfill. Also, ash from Waste to Energy (WtE) Plants, pre- and post-processing rejects from waste processing facilities (MCF, MRF, RRF, bio waste treatment facilities, recycling plants), inert and sweeping material will be disposed of at a landfill. Biodegradable waste, recyclables, combustibles, and hazardous materials shall not be deposited in the scientific landfills.

  1. Why can inert wastes not simply be incinerated?

 The only scientific way of disposing of inert waste is in a scientific landfill. The residual waste cannot be incinerated since it includes materials that are non-combustible in nature and also due to the risk of gaseous pollutants being released.

  1. What potential risks does society face if it lacks a scientifically operated landfill? 

Presently, Kerala does not have any facility for disposing residual waste, which leads to dumping along roads, coasts, valleys, forests, water bodies, etc. This leads to environmental degradation and risks to public health. A scientific landfill will channel the residual waste for proper disposal. It is important to note that access to a scientific landfill is a crucial step in the modern waste management value chain. 

  1. What measures will be taken to prevent the release of pollutants from the scientific landfill into the air, soil, and groundwater in the surrounding area?

A properly managed scientific landfill does not produce or release pollutants into the environment since only residual waste is disposed of there. The authority will ensure that all care is taken and guidelines regarding the design of a scientific landfill are adhered to ensure all safety precautions. A properly designed scientific landfill includes an impermeable liner at the bottom and side walls. The liner prevents liquid contaminants (leachate), if any, from encountering groundwater (aquifers) and seeping into the soil. Provisions for the management of leachates, including their collection and treatment, will be made. Further, the residual waste is compacted to conserve space, and a cover material is applied over the waste on a regular basis to control odour, blowing around litter, and avoid chances of air pollution.

  1. What is the expected lifespan of a scientific landfill, and what happens once it reaches capacity? How will the closure and post-closure phases be managed?

The lifespan of a scientific landfill depends on the area of the site, the quantum of waste it caters to, and other design parameters such as slope and height. But, a typical landfill site is usually designed to last for at least 20–25 years. A scientific landfill typically consists of several ‘landfill cells’ that are developed in a phased manner, each cell being used to dispose of waste until it is filled to capacity.  As each cell becomes full, it is closed by capping. Landfill caps can be made with vegetative soil (suited for dry climates) or have a sophisticated multi-layer system of soil and geo synthetic material to divert water from entering the landfill (more appropriate for wet climates). A topsoil layer could be placed on top of any synthetic covers to support the growth of vegetation, and create opportunities for subsequent uses of the land. 

Once a landfill is filled to capacity, post-closure care of the site will be conducted for at least 15 years. The long-term monitoring plan will include making sure the final cover remains intact, and making any repairs needed, and to prevent run-on and run-off from eroding or otherwise damaging the final cover. The leachate collection system and groundwater around the landfill facility will also be monitored closely to make sure there is no pollution. The gas venting system will also need to be properly maintained.

  1. What are the monitoring mechanisms being put into place to ensure the landfill doesn’t exceed permissible emission norms?

 The state will ensure that SLFs are maintained properly through operating contractors and monitored by the State Pollution Control Board, which is the regulatory body. Further, the following measures will be taken under the Environment and Social Monitoring Framework: 

  1. Provisions for the management of leachates, including their collection and treatment, shall be provided, and the treated water shall be periodically analysed to ensure that the parameters are within permissible limits.
  2. Before establishing any landfill site, baseline data on groundwater quality in the area shall be collected and kept on record for future reference. Although the landfill will have a liner to prevent ground water contamination, as a double protection, the groundwater quality within 50 metres of the periphery of the landfill site shall be periodically monitored, covering different seasons in a year, that is, summer, monsoon, and post-monsoon periods, to ensure that the groundwater is not contaminated.
  3. Landfill gas venting systems shall be installed at landfill sites to minimise odour and prevent off-site migration of gases. The ambient air quality shall be treated periodically to ensure no methane is present.
  4. Ambient air quality at the landfill site and in the vicinity shall be regularly monitored.
  5. Green belts shall be developed and maintained all around the boundary of the landfill.
  6. The approach and/or internal roads shall be concreted or paved to avoid the generation of dust particles due to vehicular movement.
  7. Storm water drains will be designed and constructed in such a way that the surface runoff water is diverted from the landfilling site and leachates from solid waste locations do not get mixed with the surface runoff water, and this shall be monitored.

  •  Will informal waste collectors have access to the landfill sites?

Landfill sites are fenced or hedged and provided with a proper gate to monitor incoming vehicles and prevent entry by unauthorised persons and stray animals. The residual waste will not contain any recyclable material of any value so there is no role for waste collectors at landfill sites. The recyclables and reusable, if any, received from the disposed residual waste shall be recovered by the scientific landfill operator prior to landfilling. 

  1. What efforts will be taken to ensure that the landfill does not become a potential fire hazard like we saw at Brahmapuram?

There are currently only open dumpsites in Kerala and no landfills.  A properly managed scientific landfill will only receive residual waste, which is Non-Biodegradable, Non-recyclable, and Non-Combustible and is mostly inert in nature. Because residual waste is non-combustible in nature, there is no risk of a potential fire hazard. All waste is also compacted and covered with soil.  Despite this, there shall be a proper fire detection system installed at the scientific landfill site to constantly monitor for fire hazards. It may be noted that the Brahmapuram site was a waste dumping site and not a landfill. Due to the presence of combustible material and methane generation from the decomposition of organic matter, such waste dumping sites are prone to fire hazards. Therefore, it is important for every local body to have access to a properly managed waste processing and treatment facility and a scientific landfill disposal site.

  1. What factors determine the number of scientific landfills required in the state?

The development, operations, and management of scientific landfills are highly capital-intensive. It will not be economically viable for a ULB or LSGI to maintain such a facility in terms of capital and operational expenses and in terms of waste quantity to be landfilled. The transportation of inert materials over long distances is also not economically viable. Further, the future requirement of a scientific landfill shall depend on the design lifespan of each scientific landfill, the area of the land parcel, the quantum of residual waste or improvement in the SWM system it caters to, and other design parameters such as slope and height considered in the design. Also, the siting criteria as provided by the Pollution Control Board are required to be adhered to, and the transportation infrastructure and long-term economic viability will also have to be considered.

  1. What happens to the landfill after the KSWMP is closed? Who will manage and monitor it?
    The landfills are constructed for the long-term benefits of Local Bodies and thereby for the benefit of waste generators, who are none other than ordinary citizens, and will be operated and managed by the local bodies with support and guidance from the Local Self-Government Department. KSWMP is only providing financial and technical support to the local bodies for establishing scientific landfills and for ensuring all environmental and social safeguards. The local body will set up a monitoring mechanism in line with the statutory guidelines to ensure compliance with the Environment and Social Monitoring Framework.
  1. How will the local community’s views be considered in the setting up of these landfills? What are the social safeguards for the Scientific Landfill Site in Kerala Solid Waste Management Project?

Following the site selection phase, the site will be subjected to Environmental Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment studies. During these studies, all stakeholder views, including those of the local community, shall be considered, and all social and environmental risks, including impacts on livelihood, land, health and safety, and customary rights, identified.  The project will then develop an environmental and social management plan for mitigating the identified risks and addressing the concerns of the local community. Further, the social safeguards shall include:

  • Public consultation: People who live near the site will be consulted before construction begins. This consultation will help to ensure that the project is designed in a way that minimises the impact on the community.
  • Resettlement and compensation: If there is any loss of livelihood, land, or dwellings due to land acquisition, purchase, or transfer, KSWMP will ensure resettlement, rehabilitation, and compensation according to the RFCTLARR Act 2013 and Resettlement Policy Framework. This will help to ensure that the people who are affected will be compensated before the project begins.
  • Public Hearing: A statutory public hearing process will be conducted as part of the environmental clearance procedure.

  • What are the GRM available in the project?

The Grievance Redressal Mechanism is an integral part of the project. A web-based system hosted on the official website of KSWMP and a toll-free contact point at SPMU are       operational. Further, social media will be actively monitored to address the concerns of the public and stakeholders. The complaints registered through the toll-free number, website, email, social media pages, and complaint boxes of ULBs and KSWMP will be addressed promptly.
The SPMU will monitor the complaints lodged through these channels for project and service delivery issues and resolve them through the appropriate channels. 

Toll-free number: 18004250238

E-mail: grmkswmp@gmail.com

  1.  Why is there a need for a regional scientific landfill facility rather than ULB specific facilities?
    Scientific landfills are typically designed to serve the community for at least 20-25 years.  This means they also require a large parcel of land to cater to waste over this long lifespan. Given the stringent siting criteria of SWM Rules 2016, and the relevant CPCB/SPCB and CRZ regulations, it is not feasible to identify such large extents of land for every town or city to set up ULB-level scientific landfills. Therefore, the Government of Kerala has decided to develop a few regional-level scientific landfills to cater to several ULBs at one site.  The regional facility can be accessible to multiple local bodies for safe disposal of residual waste and will have a centralised monitoring mechanism.
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