1. On the entry of women in masjids
Why did the Jama Masjid in Delhi prohibit the entry of single women or women in groups inside the mosque premises? Did they later revoke the ban? What does the Quran say about entry of women worshippers inside masjids? What happened at the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai in 2011?
Last week, the Jama Masjid in Delhi prohibited the entry of single women or women in groups inside the mosque premises. The authorities reasoned that some women fail to respect the sanctity of the place of worship, making videos there. “When women come alone, they indulge in improper acts, shoot videos. The ban is to stop this,” reasoned the Masjid’s spokesman. The decision led to an uproar on social media. By early evening, the mosque management clarified that the ban excluded those women coming for worship, or those accompanied by their husband or families. However, many continued to question the unilateral decision of the authorities, forcing Delhi Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena to step in to douse the ire. Following a meeting with the Lieutenant-Governor, the mosque authorities withdrew the ban. Imam Ahmed Bukhari clarified, “The masjid administration does not want to prevent anyone from worshipping inside.” Incidentally, the Jama Masjid is otherwise one of the few mosques to allow women worshippers to offer regular prayers.
What is the Islamic law on women’s entry?
While there is a clear difference of opinion among Islamic scholars on the right of women to visit a dargah or a cemetery, there is lesser disagreement on a woman’s right to offer prayers inside a masjid. Most Islamic scholars agree that a prayer can be offered at home but can only be established in a group, hence the importance of going to a mosque. Most also agree that women have been exempted, not prohibited from going to the mosque, keeping in mind their child-rearing and other domestic responsibilities. In fact, the Quran at no place prohibits women from going to mosques for prayers. For instance, verse 71 of Surah Taubah, says, “The believing men and women are protectors and helpers of each other. They (collaborate) to promote all that is good and oppose all that is evil; establish prayers and give charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger.” Wherever the Quran talks of establishing prayer, it talks in gender neutral terms. Before the five daily prayers, a prayer call or azaan is pronounced. The azaan is a general invitation to both men and women for prayers, reminding the faithful, ‘Come for prayer, come for success’.
Incidentally, when Muslims go to Mecca and Medina for Hajj and Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), both men and women pray at Haram Sharief in Mecca and Masjid-e-Nabavi in Medina. Both places have separate halls earmarked for men and women. Also, across West Asia there is no ban on women coming to the masjid for prayers. In the U.S. and Canada too, women access mosques for prayers, and even gather there for special Taraweeh prayers in Ramzan and lessons on religion. The denial of access to mosques for women worshippers is a largely subcontinental phenomenon. In India, only a handful of mosques maintained or owned by Jamaat-e-Islami and the Ahl-e-Hadith sect have provisions for women worshippers. Most mosques while not expressly forbidding women’s entry in masjids, have no provision for women to do ablutions for prayer or a separate prayer zone for them. They are built keeping only men in mind. Under the circumstances, they are reduced to a ‘men only’ zone.
Have there been similar bans before?
The short-lived order of the Jama Masjid administration drew parallels with the much more prolonged ban on entry of women inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. Back in 2011, a grill was put up on the premises of the vastly popular 15th century dargah, prohibiting women from going beyond it. Following the ‘this much and no further’ order, some women approached the dargah management for redress. However, with the requests having been denied, they started a campaign, ‘Haji Ali for All’, winning over more women in the process. Led by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, the women approached the Bombay High Court which ruled in their favour in 2016.
What is the legal issue?
According to the Constitution, there is complete equality between men and women. In the Haji Ali Dargah case too, the High Court quoted Articles 15, 16 and 25 of the Constitution to grant women the desired access to the dargah. There are petitions filed before the Supreme Court wherein access has been sought for women in all mosques across the country. The apex court has clubbed them with the Sabarimala case.
2. What is the Karnataka voter data theft case?
How did the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust acquire personal information of voters? Can the data be recovered?
On November 16, Bengaluru’s civic body, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said in a press release that it had cancelled permissions granted to the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust to conduct house-to-house surveys to help create awareness about the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme. The NGO has been accused of collecting personal information from the public, under the guise of spreading awareness, by impersonating BBMP officials. The Congress-led Opposition has alleged that this was done in connivance with the ruling BJP government. The BJP has however, denied the allegations and launched a counter-attack alleging that the NGO was first given permission by the previous Congress government.
What is the voter data theft case?
In 2018, the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust was granted permission to carry out house-to-house visits to create awareness on how to access online applications via the voters’ helpline mobile app. On November 2, the BBMP revoked this permission after receiving several complaints from residents that the NGO was collecting personal details while conducting door-to-door surveys by deputing field level workers. The BBMP has admitted that the personal information of the voters, including Aadhaar number, phone number and voter ID number, was uploaded on an app (Digital Sameeksha) developed by the Trust and not on the Election Commission’s voter registration app (Garuda) or voter helpline. The Opposition has accused the NGO of large-scale electoral fraud, malpractice and manipulation of voters’ lists.
What has been the fallout?
The BBMP has registered two FIRs in Bengaluru against the NGO under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code. On November 20, the police arrested Krishnappa Ravikumar, co-founder of the Chilume Trust, who had been absconding since the scandal broke out. The police has also arrested Kempegowda, one of the directors of the Trust and has detained the main software developer of the Digital Sameeksha app. Furthermore, notices have been issued to Revenue officials, who are in-charge of electoral roll revision and linking of Aadhaar card with electoral rolls. The police are also analysing the app to ascertain what data was collected and for whom it was meant. Electronic devices were recovered from the premises of the offices of the Trust in Malleswaram in west Bengaluru through which the police is attempting to recover the data which has potential for misuse.
What will happen to the data?
Such mass collection of data is violative of the fundamental right to privacy as defined in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd.) vs Union of India. The judgment formally recognised the right to privacy as being a fundamental right stemming from the right to life and personal liberty, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The data which was collected by the NGO has potential for misuse, according to experts and election-watchers. Activist and electoral rolls analyst P.G. Bhat said that while a probe would act as deterrence, he was sceptical about data recovery. “Any number of copies of the data could be anywhere in the world on the cloud. It is practically impossible to prevent the data from falling into the hands of those who are ready to pay for it. Even before this scandal broke, there have been many improprieties carried out with data from the electoral rolls,” he said.
3. NITI Aayog proposes decarbonising of industrial emissions
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), the technology for decarbonising emissions from high polluting sectors such as steel, cement, oil, gas, petrochemicals, chemicals and fertilizers, has a critical role to play for the country to halve carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, says a report on the policy framework of the CCUS prepared by the NITI Aayog and MN Dastur & Company.
The report, released here on Tuesday by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Suman K. Bery, said the CCUS technology would help in promoting the low carbon-hydrogen economy and in removal of the CO2 stock from the atmosphere.
Mr. Bery said the key challenge would be to reduce the cost of the mechanisms to implement the technology. “NITI Aayog will try to develop a consensus with other Ministries on the matter,” he said. “We need a sustainable solution for the decarbonisation of sectors that contribute to 70% of emission. CCUS has an important and critical role to play in it, especially for India to accomplish net-zero by 2070.”
Mr. Bery said CCUS could enable the production of clean products while utilising rich endowments of coal, reducing imports and thus leading to a self-reliant India economy. “CCUS also has an important role to play in enabling sunrise sectors such as coal gasification and the nascent hydrogen economy in India,” he added.
Power Secretary Alok Kumar said the focus should be on research and development, particularly on cutting-edge technologies. “NTPC has taken some R&D projects. Ministry has supported it,” Mr. Kumar said.
NITI Aayog Member V.K. Saraswat said that through the technology, CO2 coming from various thermal power plants or industrial plants would be captured.
The report said the key to a successful CCUS implementation was to enact a policy framework that supported the creation of sustainable and viable markets for CCUS projects.
Carbon Capture is the long-term storage of carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean, can occur both naturally or as a result of anthropogenic activities.
How does Carbon Capture and Storage work?
There are essentially two ways of doing Carbon Capture And Storage, or CCS.
1. Technology-based solutions
- It entails putting up machinery to capture fumes (such as from factories, large engines, etc) and removing carbon dioxide from them. The next step is, to figure out a way of disposing of the carbon dioxide.
- The most basic way to do this is to bury the gas underground — in pores of sedimentary rock formations, or in dead oilfields, that is, in sands that once held oil or gas, or in underground coal seams.
- This works if you don’t have to transport the carbon dioxide over large distances to the burial ground. The captured carbon dioxide could be injected into living oil and gas wells so as to push out the hydrocarbons.
- Scientists have also suggested that the carbon dioxide could also be injected into gas hydrates (frozen gas-water mixture), whereupon the carbon dioxide will push out the gas in the hydrate and take its place
2. Nature-based solutions
- They do not ‘capture’ carbon dioxide but offset the emissions by sucking up the gas from the atmosphere — essentially involve growing trees.
- Wetland and Mangroves are said to have an enormous potential to suck up carbon dioxide.
Current status of Carbon Capture and Storage
- In 2019 (the pre-pandemic year), the world emitted 36.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Today, CCS projects are negligible in comparison with the emissions.
- The earliest CCS projects are believed to be Sleipner and Snovhit projects in Norway, which have captured and sequestered about 24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in their 23 years of operations.
- In 2014, the Boundary Dam project in Canada was built to capture and bury around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year
- According to the Global CCS Institute as of 2018, there were 43 large-scale facilities — 18 in commercial operation, five under construction and 20 in various stages of development.
Limitations with Carbon Capture Storage
- Installation of CCS is costly.
- The CCS in a thermal power project, itself would take away between 6 percent and 10 percent of the power generation.
- There are issues with capital and maintenance costs.
- Carbon which is stored deep underground. Due to any tectonic activities or by rock fissures, gas may again leak to atmosphere
India status on Carbon Capture and Storage
- The government’s plans are more in the realm of ‘nature-based solutions’.
- It is very difficult to see technology CCS coming up in India, unless financially supported by the developed countries.
- National Programme on CO2 Storage Research by Department of Science and Technology
- India is part of the accelerating CCS technologies(ACT) initiative. ACT is an international initiative of 16 countries to facilitate the emergence of Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) via transnational funding of projects aimed at accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted innovation and research activities.
- ‘Industry Charter’ for near zero emissions by 2050 was agreed to by six Indian companies that will explore different decarbonisation measures including carbon Storage.
4. Editorial-1: Settling the language for cooperative federalism
Cooperative federalism and ‘cultural chauvinism’. The latter expression found mention in an editorial comment recently and bears repetition: “This latest effort to impose Hindi raises once again and quite retrogressively the issue of cultural nationalism at a time when it is least required. India has remained uniquely unified despite the infinite multiplicities of its cultures….”
Language is an essential ingredient of identity. The question of expressing national identity in a linguistically diverse society anxious to jettison or reduce the use of English as the language of the colonial power was passionately debated by the Constitution-makers and even linked to ‘national prestige’. It was an uneasy compromise reflected in the wording of Part XVII (Articles 343-351).
Spelling it out
Article 345 leaves it to the State to choose its language for official purposes. In actual practice, several States and Union Territories continue to use English. Article 348 stipulates that all proceedings of the Supreme Court and ‘of every High Court’ and of Bills, etc. in Parliament shall be in the English language. The Eighth Schedule and the periodic additions to it (now numbering 22) spell out the diversity and complexity of the language landscape as do the Official Languages Act of 1963 and its Rules made in 1976 and amended in 1987, 2007 and 2011.
The question of Official Language brought forth ‘passionate dissents’ in the Constituent Assembly and the drafting of the Constitution. It covered language of legislatures; language of the courts and the judiciary, and language of the official work of the Union. Educational institutions of “national importance” and those of “scientific and technical education financed by Government of India” were in the Union List and education “including technical, medical and universities” were in the Concurrent List.
Some ambiguity inevitably crept into it. Thus Article 351 directs the state, in the development of Hindi, to draw upon other languages in the composite culture of India. These include Hindustani that does not find a mention in the Eighth Schedule.
A dissent that surfaces from time to time
This passionate dissent — beginning with the B.G. Kher Commission — continues to this day and surfaces from time to time. It assumed a violent form in 1965 in Tamil Nadu, where violent disturbances led to more than 50 deaths. This year, the reactions from Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been sharp and unambiguous. The Hindu reported on November 27 that ‘an 85-year-old DMK functionary ended his life in Salem on Saturday’ purportedly over the Central government’s imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu.
Unlike other parliamentary committees, the committee on official language, though consisting of 30 members of Parliament, is headed by the Home Minister. Its mandate is to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for official purposes, and to make recommendations to increase the use of Hindi in official communications. It submits its report to the President of India, who forwards its recommendations to the two Houses.
It is understood that, so far, only the recommendations of the reports up to the ninth in the year 2010 have been forwarded to the Houses of Parliament. The 10th and 11th reports have been submitted to the President and are not in the public domain.
The Home Minister’s press conference in October announcing the completion of the 11th Report, highlighted some of its recommendations on language of instruction and examinations in technical courses. This touched off an animated debate on its resulting implications and its practicality in terms of the availability of standard books and course material, and of teachers qualified to communicate it adequately. A related matter is the competence in Hindi language of candidates undertaking examinations in it and competing in equal measure with those whose mother tongue it is.
At the root of the debate is the bigger question of identity in a diverse society. Nowhere in it was the suggestion that diversity, including linguistic diversity, is to be subsumed in linguistic uniformity.
The ‘national language’ issue
The allegation of ‘cultural chauvinism’ emanates from the apprehension that the transition from English along with Hindi as the Official Language of the Union to it being the national language and to bring it about through such procedural devices such as the language of instruction and examination and of textbooks to the detriment of students whose mother tongue is not Hindi. Its implications for competitiveness in the job market are evident.
It is to be recalled that the language of the chapter on Official Language is definitive and limits itself to the language of the Union. It does not mention a national language. There is no mention of it in the section on Directive Principles of State Policy or of Fundamental Duties. In fact, Article 344(3) stipulates that ‘the just claims and interests of persons belonging to the non-Hindi speaking areas in regard to the public services’ shall be considered by the President.
In this context, what are the courses open to the federal government in the context of the zeal reflected in the Home Minister’s remarks? The constitutional course would be to opt for the language of Article 345, that allows each Legislature to the use of Hindi, or to choose its language, for all official purposes. This would hinge on electoral success in terms of the official programme of the party in power. Its absence, by the same token, would make the matter politically contentious, even acrimonious.
Would not such a course, if adopted, be prudent for longer term political harmony implied in cooperative federalism, more so because English is now accepted as the language of discourse across continents, and its colonial past is a matter of distant history?
5. Editorial-2: A spymaster who now has the Pakistan Army’s reins
Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir has taken over as Pakistan’s new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) from General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired on November 29 after a six-year-long tenure. Gen. Munir will inherit a lot of political and economic mess from his predecessor. Therefore, his foremost task will be to restore the sullied image of the Pakistan Army, resolve internal differences, and generate confidence in the country’s political establishment by displaying neutrality. As a part of this, he may devise hawkish policies on national security matters in the near term.
Gen. Munir is the 17th Army Chief of Pakistan. A graduate of the 17th batch of the Officers Training School at Mangla, he was commissioned into the 23rd Battalion of Pakistan Army’s Frontier Force Regiment. His experience ranges from leading Force Command Northern Areas in Gilgit-Baltistan to heading both the Military Intelligence and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Notably, he was the ISI chief during the Pulwama suicide attack in Kashmir in February 2019. It is expected that he will follow a hard-line policy vis-à-vis India.
Fixing civil-military relations
Under Gen. Bajwa’s leadership, the military establishment brazenly interfered in political ‘engineering’ by first installing the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘hybrid’ regime in 2018, and then allegedly removing him from power in April this year. However, it only ensued persisting political instability in Pakistan. Since his ousting, Imran Khan and the PTI have been on the offensive, launching a campaign against the ‘imported’ coalition government of the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan Democratic Movement and the military establishment. This has caused serious damage to civil-military relations. Mr. Khan has openly accused Gen. Bajwa and other senior Army officers of ‘illegally’ removing the PTI government, attempting to assassinate him, and being involved in the mysterious killing of a pro-PTI journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya last month. Interestingly, such are the political dynamics of Pakistan that when Mr. Khan was in power, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had blamed Gen. Bajwa for plotting against him, politicising the judiciary and installing a “selected and incompetent” PTI government.
These developments have raised the Pakistani political class’s long-held fears about the military establishment’s intentions. The political instability has also taken its toll on the Pakistani economy, which is now facing the risk of default. This has caused unprecedented political and public backlash against the Army leadership. So, restoring the Army’s pole position and providing a semblance of order in civil-military relations will likely be Gen. Munir’s top priority as the new COAS. In the long run, he will also prioritise maintaining the military’s supremacy over civilian institutions in Pakistan.
As part of restoring the Army’s image and mobilising public opinion in its favour, he may follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by launching a new military operation in the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)-affected tribal areas in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Gen. Raheel Sharif and Gen. Bajwa had initiated military operations — Zarb-e-Azb (2014) and Radd-ul-Fasaad (2017), respectively, to mark their presence and consolidate power as the new COAS. Already, there are calls for military intervention in the Swat Valley and erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas agencies to control growing militancy and provide security to the local population.
More importantly, Gen. Munir will have to decide the future of the peace dialogue with the TTP, which has stalled after the Pakistani government dilly dallied on accepting the militant group’s demands. The Afghan Taliban regime in Kabul, which has played an active role in mediating between the Pakistan Army and TTP, has achieved little success. This has frustrated Islamabad and Rawalpindi, exacerbating the already strained ties due to the unresolved differences over the Durand Line, separating Pakistan and Afghanistan. In recent months, there have been frequent and violent border clashes between the two neighbours over Pakistan’s fencing of the Line.
Toughening India policy
On India, COAS Munir is unlikely to follow the lead of Gen. Bajwa, who, guided by his security calculations, had been instrumental in agreeing to a ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in February 2021. The ceasefire has largely held. As Gen. Munir has taken charge, the LoC may get active again in the coming months, post-winter. While there are enough pressing domestic matters to keep Gen. Munir preoccupied, he may be keen to signal India that he means business and that New Delhi should not exploit Pakistan’s current predicaments.
India will prefer to wait and watch. Given Gen. Munir’s ISI portfolio at the time of the 2019 Pulwama attack, there is a concern that cross-border terror activities will see a spike, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. The easing of international pressure on Pakistan in the form of its exit from the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’ may be an enabler. Gen. Munir may, therefore, utilise his operational and intelligence expertise in formulating a rejigged, possibly hawkish, policy on India.
To sum up, Gen. Munir will carry his predecessor’s baggage for the foreseeable future of his tenure. He will face multiple challenges in bringing political stability and elevating people’s perception of the Army. The faltering economy will be his greatest challenge, and his priority would be to ensure that the Army is not blamed for economic mismanagement and grave shortages of essential commodities in Pakistan. If everything fails, he could use the known diversionary tactics to rally key stakeholders behind the Army as the only ‘saviour of Pakistan’.
6. Editorial-3: EWS are well represented in higher education
As the heated political debate following the Supreme Court judgment upholding the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) has almost settled now, we look at the empirical basis of the quota. The simple question that we examine here is whether the EWS quota is backed by evidence. To answer this, we look at the principal justification for the EWS quota and whether the available evidence justifies it.
The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill claims that the EWS from the general category have largely remained excluded in higher education institutions due to their financial incapacity. Thus, exclusion or under-representation in higher education is the primary justification for the EWS quota. And so, we examine the available evidence to ascertain the extent of representation of EWS from the general category in higher education institutions.
To do this, we developed a novel data base of higher education institutions which were ranked under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). We compare the representation of EWS students in 457 higher education institutions in 2019, just before the EWS quota was introduced, and in 528 institutions ranked in 2022, the latest year for which data are available. We arrived at these numbers after removing the duplications, as some institutions are ranked in several categories. For example, if an institution was ranked in both the ‘engineering’ and ‘universities’ categories, we included it only in the latter category as the former is a subset of the latter.
Do the NIRF data provide the proportion of EWS students studying in these premier higher educational intuitions? Not directly. Instead, the data enable us to estimate the share indirectly. In its data submission format, the NIRF asked the participating education institutions to provide details of the number of currently enrolled ‘economically backward students’ defined as “students whose parental income is less than taxable slab”. To avoid duplication, the format specifies that the economically backward students should be treated as a separate category and not be counted in the socially backward categories, and vice versa.
The taxable slab of parental incomes corresponds closer to ₹8 lakh, the income cut-off to avail of the EWS quota. The Ajay Bhushan Pandey Committee, appointed to examine the EWS income criteria, argues that “considering that the currently effective income tax exemption limit is around ₹8 lakh for individuals, the committee is of the view that the gross annual income limit of ₹8 lakh for the entire family would be reasonable for inclusion into EWS”. Hence, these economically backward students can be considered the reasonable proxy for the EWS students from the general category.
The NIRF 2019 data suggest that EWS students constituted 19% in the NIRF-ranked higher education institutions, whereas students from socially backward groups (Scheduled Castes/Tribes/Other Backward Classes) formed 39%. The proportion of EWS students was higher in colleges (28%) and lower in medical institutes (2%). This variation was equally applicable for socially backward students: 47% in colleges and just 3% in management institutions. Surprisingly, the proportion of EWS students declined from 19% in 2019 to 15% in 2022, three years after the implementation of the EWS quota, but it remains well above the 10% quota.
These higher education institutions comprise both private and government-funded public institutions and therefore require a disaggregated analysis. The share of EWS students in 218 public higher education institutions and 239 private institutions stood at 19% and 20%, respectively, in 2019. The corresponding share in 2022 is 17% and 13%. Thus, despite being outside the purview of the EWS reservation policy, the share of EWS students is more than 10% in the private NIRF-ranked higher education institutes. The share of socially backward students in private institutions stood at 36% in 2019; it remains unchanged in 2022. Within public institutions, the share of EWS students in centrally funded elite institutions such as the IITs and IIMs was 21%; in 2019; it has dropped to 16% in 2022.
Well above the quota
This shows that EWS students are not excluded or under-represented in premier higher education institutes. An analysis of the Periodic Labour Force Survey data of 2019 also confirms the above pattern. Employing the insight offered by the Palma ratio, a policy-relevant inequality measure, we have trifurcated households into bottom 40% (the poor); middle 50% (middle class); and top 10% (the rich). We consider here only the poor households, as the EWS quota is meant for the poor among the general category. In the bottom 40% households, the proportion of general category, defined as ‘non-SC/ST/OBCs’, is 18%. About 20% of 18-25-year-olds from the general category from the poor 40% households have enrolled in higher education institutions. To put this differently, they constitute about 24% of all students enrolled from the bottom 40. Similarly, close to 20% of 22-29-year-olds from the general category from the bottom 40 have completed graduation or above. Here too, their share constitutes more than their population share in the bottom 40.
It is thus clear that the share of EWS from the general category in higher education institutions is well above 10%. The available evidence goes against both the justification and the objective of the EWS reservation policy.
7. Editorial-4: Where does waste originate and go?
Half the municipal solid waste of Delhi went to landfills in 2020-21
A recent report titled ‘EnviStats India 2022’, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, has highlighted the herculean challenge of disposing of the solid waste generated by the States without harming the environment. By taking Delhi as an example, the report has calculated the “physical supply and use tables” to capture the source and destination of all types of solid waste in the capital city. Data were collected from all the five Urban Local Bodies and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee pertaining to 2020-21.
Chart 1 shows the various sources of solid waste generated in Delhi. Over 40 lakh tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) were generated in 2020-21. Municipal solid waste includes garbage (highly decomposable material such as food), trash (bulky items such as tree branches or old appliances), and rubbish (slowly decomposing items such as paper, glass, or metal). According to the report, about 85% of MSW in Delhi was generated by households and 15% by shops and restaurants.
That year, over 13 lakh tonnes of construction and demolition waste were also generated in the city along with over 5.4 lakh tonnes of plastic waste, about 11 thousand tonnes of bio-medical waste, and 610 tonnes of e-waste. Delhi also generated 3,239 tonnes of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is typically sludge from factories, industrial manufacturing process wastes and batteries.
Table 2 shows the various ways in which the waste was disposed of in Delhi. Half the municipal solid waste went to landfills and the other half was recycled and reused. About 35% of bio-medical waste was incinerated, while the entire share of construction and demolition waste was recycled. While bio-medical waste is incinerated, the ash generated after the process is sent to the landfills.
It is not known how e-waste is disposed of as there is no treatment and disposal facility available in Delhi for e-waste. According to the report, of the 610 tonnes of e-waste generated in 2020-21, refurbishers collected 28.6 tonnes and bulk consumers collected the rest. Notably, about 22% of plastic waste is converted into energy, while 37% is taken to landfills.
As the 2020-21 numbers were only available for Delhi, figures from 2019-20 were considered to assess the other States on the share of different types of waste processed. Table 3 shows the percentage share of various types of waste processed. Across India, 68% of the MSW generated is processed. Himachal Pradesh leads the list with 98% of MSW getting processed, followed by Chhattisgarh at 93%. In contrast, West Bengal processed only 9%. These data were of November 2020. In 2018-19, an average of 2.5 tonnes of plastic was generated per 1,000 population in India.
Across India, 87% of biomedical waste was treated. Seventeen States and five Union Territories have already achieved 100% bio-medical waste treatment, while in Bihar and Chhattisgarh just 29% of it got treated, respectively. These data pertain to 2018. Close to 614 tonnes of biomedical waste was generated per day in India in 2018.
Across India, only 45% of the hazardous waste generated was recycled/utilised. Most States lag in this indicator. Of the 30 States analysed, in 13, less than 50% was recycled/utilised; and in 22 of them, ess than 75% was recycled/utilised. These data pertain to the 2018-19 period. The hazardous waste generated in the country per 1,000 population was 8.09 metric tonnes in 2018.