CAG audit into waste management opens can of worms

Last Updated 14 January 2019, 08:50 IST

Non-segregation of waste across categories, unauthorised disposal of bio-medical waste, e-waste, and mismanagement of plastic waste - all leading to environmental degradation and death of cattle.

This, coupled with deficient detailed project reports and non-utilisation of large sums of funds, is a sum total of shortcomings of 35 urban local bodies (ULBs), as highlighted in a performance audit report on solid waste management, whose report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Monday. The audit covers 2012-13 to 2016-17 period.

Plastic woes

As per the report, the government has not operationalised any waste minimisation strategy, while ULBs have failed to take up initiatives to promote waste minimisation activity exclusively.

Plastic waste, though found feasible for use in laying of roads, was not used for the said purpose. This, not only resulted in mismanagement of plastic waste, but also in environmental degradation and death of cattle.

Health care institutions were functioning without authorisation and resorting to unauthorised disposal of bio-medical waste. Segregation of waste at different levels was either absent or partial in all ULBs.

The report also states that the absence of functional GPS and tracking systems resulted in unauthorised dumping of waste near the banks of River Kabini in Nanjangud.

Only 26% of the waste collected was processed by ULBs during the review period. The absence of proper segregation of waste led to mixing of municipal solid waste with plastic waste, bio-medical waste,
e-waste and slaughterhouse waste. The report states that the above lapses indicate lack of basic monitoring by ULBs and district/state authorities.

Unused funds

It was observed that none of the test-checked ULBs had assessed the requirement of capital and revenue funds for SWM activities.

As a result, they were unaware of the resource deficit. Though DPRs prepared during 2016-17 assessed the resource deficit, ULBs failed to address measures for bridging the deficit.

As the capital expenditure on SWM was not commensurate with the funds available, it resulted in the accumulation of balances to the tune of Rs 93.19 crore by the end of March 2017, the report states.

Non-collection of cess

The ULBs were also found to have incurred heavy losses, as they failed to collect SWM cess. ULBs have lost a revenue of Rs 3.07 crore during 2012-13 and 2016-17, as they failed to
collect cess from places of worship, occupiers of buildings/shops owned by ULBs and government buildings.

While cess from the abovementioned properties was not collected as they were exempt from payment of property tax or service charges, ULBs also failed to levy a cess on vacant lands, despite the enabling provisions.

It was also found that there was short accounting of cess of Rs 5.41 crore in six ULBs, and HDMC alone short accounted to the extent of Rs 5.11 crore.

(Published 17 December 2018, 17:32 IST)

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