Towards a Clean Kerala

A clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is now recognised globally and nationally as a basic entitlement of the people. Together with incomes and basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and health, a clean environment is an integral component of human well-being. The XIII Five-Year Plan aims to build a new Kerala a litter free Kerala. Recognising the importance of scientific waste management in the State, this year's theme chapter is "Towards a Clean Kerala." Of late, waste management is one of the challenges faced by the State. A clear strategy needs to be devised to make Kerala the cleanest State in the country.

The terrain gradient, drainage density, runoff coefficient, frequent rain events, perennial streams and rivers etc succors a clean environment for the State of Kerala. Added to this is the concerted effort and achievements of the State in sanitation sector. Kerala was one of the first States in the country to fully do away with the dehumanising practice of scavenging as a culmination of people's movement for basic human dignity. Further, Kerala is one of the three open defecation free States in the country. Though the primary goal of sanitation is achieved, there are various secondary issues affecting the hygiene of the State. It includes increasing discharge of solid and liquid waste, cross-contamination of septage with groundwater, pollutant release from industries, vehicular traffic beyond the carrying capacity of roads, indiscriminate application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc. imposing serious restraints on the environmental cleanliness of the State.

Status of Waste Generation

Going by the definition of waste as any unwanted or unusable material, substances, or by-products at a particular place and time, major waste streams include agricultural waste, food waste, electronic waste, biomedical waste, industrial waste and municipal waste.

Agricultural Waste

Agricultural waste in India is estimated to be around 620 Million tonne per annum (tpa), 43 per cent of which is animal dung and slaughter wastes (Singh and Prabha, 2017). Kerala produces about 99,198 tpa of animal meat and 11,89,115 tpa of bird meat and generates about 38,100 tpa of slaughter waste from 15,680 units (Ecostat-Kerala, 2014). The units include 2435 poultry stalls, 148 butcher shops, 685 meat stalls, 168 butcher shop cum meat stalls and 53 slaughter houses handling meat and poultry. 75.30 per cent of these units are functioning without any license. There are 809 units with no facility for waste disposal, 490 disposes to open pit, and 4,104 to closed pit. In addition, 8,700 units reported that they have other type of waste management facility which means that they are also to be considered as units without any waste disposal facilities. Only 666 units work with treatment plants for waste disposal.

Biomedical Waste

Kerala has the highest number (about 27 per cent) of health care institutions in India. The total bed strength of hospitals in Kerala is 1,13,530 of which 43,273 are in the Government sector, 2,740 in the co-operative sector and 67,517 in the private sector (CPCB, 2011). It is estimated that each bed generates about 1.5 to 2 kg/day of solid waste and 450 litres per day of liquid waste. 85 per cent of the solid waste is non-hazardous, 10 per cent is infectious and 5 per cent is toxic. Accordingly, it is estimated that about 83,000 tpa of waste is generated in the hospitals of the state of which about 12,500 tpa is the biomedical waste which is infectious or toxic (Raveena, 2012). Almost 90 per cent of the biomedical waste generated in the state is handled by figures, an agency established by the Indian Medical Association.

Industrial Hazardous Waste

Rapid industrialisation has resulted in the generation of large quantity of wastes, both solid and liquid, in industrial sectors. Despite requirements for pollution control measures, these wastes are generally dumped on land or discharged into water bodies, without adequate treatment, and thus become a large source of environmental pollution and health hazard. It is estimated that 10-15 per cent of the industrial waste generated in India (4.43 million tpa) is hazardous and its annual increase varies from 2 to 5 per cent (EAI, 2010). Kerala generates hazardous waste to the order of 71058 tpa from 542 industrial units. In this, 71 per cent of the hazardous waste generated is landfillable, 24 per cent is recyclable and 0.3 per cent is incinerable (Khanna 2009; Ratnakar & Dharmendra, 2012). About 64 per cent of the hazardous waste generated in Kerala is in Ernakulum district followed by 26 per cent in Kollam district and 4 per cent in Thiruvananthapuram district. A Common Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) is being established at Ernakulam and 17 units have their own TSDF. There is also one common and one captive incineration facility in the state with capacity of 250 tpa and 1500 tpa respectively (KSPCB, 2010).

Electronic Waste

India generates about 1.85 million tpa of e-waste and ranks fifth in the world among top e-waste producing countries. It is projected that by 2020 the e-waste generation in India will be 5.2 million tpa. Unorganised sector accounts for 95 per cent of India's e-waste. The number of mobile phone users in India, 1.1 billion in 2016, is 4 times that of United States. There are 57 million computers in use and plethora of other gadgets and consumer electronics. India accounts for roughly 4 per cent of e-waste generated annually (Agarwal and Ghosh, 2016; Ghosh, 2017)). An ASSOCHAM-KPMG study indicates that 70 per cent of the total e-waste generated in India is contributed by computers and 12 per cent by telecommunication equipment. There are no specific estimates on the generation of e-waste in Kerala. Considering the fact that 32.6 per cent of the households in Kerala have both land and mobile phones against a national average of 11.7 per cent and 20.4 per cent have computer connectivity as against the national average of 18.7 per cent, the e-waste is becoming a major solid waste stream in Kerala. Much of the e-waste generated is recyclable. In order to facilitate this, 178 dismantler/recycler agencies are enlisted for handling 438,086 tpa of e-waste, i.e. 24 per cent of the total generated. It indicates that most of the e-waste is ill-managed in the unorganised sector. Kerala does not have a e-waste disposal plant and the waste mostly goes into unorganised market for crude dismantling, recovery and reuse (Patel and Balachandran, 2016).

Municipal Solid Waste

Currently, 1,30,000 tpd (47.5 million tpa) of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated due to various household activities and other commercial and institutional activities (CPCB, 2012). Studies indicate that 1 per cent increase in the national income increases MSW by 0.7 per cent. Studies carried out in 59 cities indicated that there was 2.94 times increase in the MSW generation over a decade from 2001 (Joshi and Ahmed, 2016). It is also indicated that 51 per cent of the MSW generated is compostable, 18 per cent recyclable and 31 per cent inert. Among the recyclables, 6 per cent is paper, 3 per cent is textiles, 1per cent is leather, 4 per cent is plastics, 2 per cent is metals and 2 per cent is glass materials. The MSW contains 47 per cent moisture and its calorific value is only 1751 Kcal/Kg (CPCB, 2013). A comprehensive sectoral status study on solid waste management sponsored by the Water and Sanitation Project- South Asia of the World Bank estimated the MSW generation as 400 gpd in major urban centres, 300 gpd in municipalities and 200 gpd in rural areas (SEUF, 2006). Detailed sampling studies in major urban centres of the State indicated that the waste generation is almost 17.5 per cent higher (Varma, 2014). Accordingly, the total MSW generation in Kerala is given in Table 7.1. The annual MSW generation in Kerala is 3.7 Million tons.

Table 7.1
MSW Generation in Kerala
Region Population (2011) Per Capita MSW Generation
Total MSW Generation
Corporation 3011629 470 1415
Municipalities 12923297 350 4523
Grama Panchayats 17471135 235 4106
Total 33406061 10044
Source: Varma, 2013

Compilation of various studies indicates that the sources of MSW are dominated by households where almost 50 per cent of the waste is generated. It is also indicated that almost 83 per cent of the waste is generated in specific sources (Figure 7.1). The type of waste generated is dominated by compostable and the quantum varies for major and minor urban centres (Figure 7.2 and 7.3). The moisture content of the waste varies from 55 to 70 per cent and the average calorific value is around 1700 Kcal/Kg. The compostable part of the waste is dominated by food waste. It is predicted that Asian countries will experience largest increase in food waste production by 44 per cent i.e., from 278 million to 416 million tons between 2005 to 2025, there by the CH4 emission will enhance from 34 million to 48 million tons (Kiran, 2014).

Figure 7.1
Sources of MSW Generation
Figure 7.2
Type of MSW Generated in Major Urban Centres
Figure 7.3
Type of MSW Generated in Smaller Urban Centres

Septage and Fecal Sludge

Kerala has generally a homestead type of habitation pattern and it is characterised by a residential house attached with dug well and toilet facilities. The toilets are mostly pour flush and connected to septic tanks or single or twin-leach pits. In Kerala, about 78 per cent of the households resort to confinement of excreta within their premises using on-site sanitation system (OSS). The National Sample Survey 69th Round (2012) indicated that 97 per cent of the rural households and 99 per cent of the urban households in Kerala have access to improved toilet facilities against a national average of 39 per cent and 90 per cent respectively. The details of the type of sanitation facilities in Kerala is given in Table 7.2 (Census, 2011). Though Kerala is now an open defecation free State with all the houses having toilet facilities, the onsite sanitation system necessitates confinement of the septage in septic tanks and fecal sludge in toilet leach pits.

Table 7.2
Details of the Type of Sanitation Facilities in Kerala
No Type of Facilities Rural Urban Kerala India
1 No. of Households 4095674 3620696 7716370 167826730
2 Piped Sewer System (%) 9.9 14.3 12.0 11.9
3 Septic tank (%) 44.6 56.7 50.3 22.2
4 Pit latrine (%) 33.0 21.4 27.2 7.6
5 Open pit (%) 1.0 0.4 0.7 1.8
6 Open drain/Others (%) 4.7 4.5 4.6 0.5
7 Public latrine (%) 1.2 0.9 1.0 3.2
8 Open defecation (%) 5.6 1.7 3.8 49.8
Source: Census, 2011

Varma (2015; 2016) have evaluated the status of septage generation and management in Kerala. There are about 39.5 lakh septic tanks and 23 lakh pit latrines in the State as per the Census data. However, the septic tanks reported do not comply with standard scientific specifications. The excreta confinement capacity of septic tanks and latrine pits vary considerably depending on the terrain, land availability, financial aspects of the household. Normally, the size of the septic tank in individual houses ranges from 1 to 4 m3 and that in a public office setup or apartment buildings from 10 to 100 m3. Generally, the frequency of emptying septic tanks vary from 2 to 10 years depending on the volume, usage and awareness on the requirement of desludging. The latrine leach pits are emptied in 10-20 years when the pits get fully filled and become unusable. The volume of leach pits varies from 1-10 m3. Generally, in low lying and coastal areas, the depth of the leach pit is restricted due to groundwater table and in such pits, desludging becomes necessary in shorter frequency. The total volume of septage/fecal sludge that needs to be emptied from septic tanks or leach pits every day in Kerala is around 7966 m3 (Varma, 2016). It is also estimated that urban areas in 6 out of the 14 districts (Trivandrum, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikkode and Kannur) account for 70 per cent of daily septage clearance demand. In the other districts, the generation is far higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. The district wise pattern of septage generation is given as Figure 7.4.

Figure 7.4
Septage Generation in Various Districts (m3/day)

Wastewater Generation

In addition to the septage and fecal sludge that is collected in the septic tanks or leach-pits, there is also wastewater generated in kitchen, bathrooms etc. and overflow from soak pits, septic tanks and leachpits. An inventory in three Grama Panchayats, two Municipalities and one Corporation indicates that waste water generation in urban and rural areas is 129 lpcd and 127 lpcd respectively of which 60 per cent is considered as grey water portion (CWRDM, 2011). Accordingly, the waste water generation in the State is projected as around 4.3 Mm3/day, of which grey water generation is around 2.6 Mm3/day . Given that population in urban and rural areas are more or less the same, their contribution is almost equal in the daily generation. Similar to septage generation, the urban population in 6 districts contribute to 66 per cent of the daily waste water generation. It is also indicated that about 45 per cent of the grey water is being discharged to leach pits, 25 per cent to drains and 30 per cent to open space (Harikumar, 2015).

State of Pollution

In addition to the various types of wastes, there are pollutant discharges that affect the environmental cleanliness and aesthetics of Kerala, in turn, reducing the assimilative capacity of environment. The assimilative capacity refers to the maximum amount of pollution load that can be discharged to an environment, such as air, water, land, noise, biota, etc. without violating the best designated use of such resources in a region. Accordingly, the assimilative capacity of water is the ability of a water body to cleanse itself or its capacity to receive waste water or toxic substances without deleterious effects and without damage to aquatic life or humans who consume the water. Similarly, for air, it is the maximum amount of pollutant gases that can get diluted, dispersed or absorbed by air without compromising its best designated use. For land, it is the upper limit of extraneous constituents which could be accommodated in the soil matrix without impairing its productivity.

Soil Pollution

Kerala is endowed with ten soil types of diverse potential. The increased pressure on land for accelerated productions has led to deterioration of soil quality and soil pollution. The fertilizer nutrient consumption in Kerala in the past few years is given in Figure 7.5 (After IPNI, 2017). The total fertilizer nutrient consumption was 266,200 ton in 2013-14 in Kerala (124,000 ton of N, 55500 ton of P2O5 and 86,700 ton of K2O). The overuse of fertilizers reduces the intrinsic productivity of soil and the excess potassium content in soil decreases Vitamin C and carotene content in vegetables and fruits. The fact that about 170 Kg of fertilizer is applied in each hectare of arable land in Kerala shows that the soil pollution possibility is very high in the State. Since 1940, there was widespread usage of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides against the attack from insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses, rodents and weeds. DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), gammaxene etc. dominated the scene then. Subsequently, formulations such as BHC, chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, aldrin, malathion, dieldrin, furodan, endosulfan etc. became popular. At least 46 different formulations of pesticides were commonly used in Kerala (Indira Devi, 2010). As the unwanted populations become resistant to the formulations, either more quantity or new formulations are used to counter the menace. The usage of pesticide varied from 724 tpa in 1991-92, 1,381 tpa (1994-95), 272 tpa (2003-04), 695 tpa (2012-13) and 1,162 tpa in 2013-14). It includes 73 per cent fungicide, 16 per cent insecticide and 11 per cent weedicide. Generally, the quantity applied is much more that the requirement, with 95 per cent excess in the case of insecticide, 96 per cent in the case weedicide and 42 per cent in the case of fungicide. It is recorded that in 2009-10, Kerala used 627 ton of fungicides, insecticides, weedicides etc.

Figure 7.5
Fertiliser Nutrient Consumption (in thousand tonnes)

Water Pollution

Kerala faces a two-fold issue in water security: decreasing water availability and increasing water pollution. Kerala has a dense network of fluvial system as given in Table 7.3. Most of the water sources in the State are subjected to severe environmental stress due to pollution and shrinkage. Water pollution in the State is mainly from industrial effluents, domestic waste flow and sewage and agricultural run-off.

Table 7.3
Fluvial System Network in Kerala
No Type of water body No. Area (Ha)
1 River system 44 85,000
2 Reservoir 53 42,890
3 Private pond 35,763 21,986
4 Panchayat pond 6,848 1,487
5 Holy pond 2,689 480
6 Quarry pond 879 34
7 Village pond and other water hold 185 496
8 Irrigation tank 852 2,835
9 Freshwater fish farm (Public) 13 85
10 Freshwater lake 13 85
11 Check dam storage 150 486
12 Bunded water hold 70 879
13 Total 158,358
Source: SPB, 2014

Wastewater from industrial activities is often contaminated with highly toxic organic and inorganic substances, some of which are persistent pollutants and remain in the environment for many years. There are 52,348 industries, those come under the pollution control norms in Kerala of which more than 96 per cent are small industries category. There are only 851 large industries and 951 medium industries in the State (KSPCB, 2016). These industries discharge 6.5 million m3 of industrial effluents into rivers and estuaries of Kerala on a daily basis. Ten major industries in Kochi alone generate effluent to the tune of 57,000 m3/day of effluent. These discharges carry heavy load of ammonia (432 – 560 mg/l), petroleum hydrocarbon (14.4 mg/l), fluoride (1.5 mg/l), nutrient concentrations in terms of nitrite (6.5 µmol/l), nitrate (6.44 µmol/l), phosphate (27.8 µmol/l), silicate (534.9 µmol/l) etc. Over the years, most of the large and medium industries installed effluent treatment plants. However, the old discharges and lack of compliance at times have caused significant accumulation of heavy metals in sediments of water bodies (Table 7.4). The higher organic carbon in sediments also contributes to the estuarine pollution. The very high organic carbon residuals of about 10 per cent in the eastern part of Ashtamudi Lake is attributable to the accumulation from organic rich effluents from Punalur Paper Mills, when it was operational.

Table 7.4
Accumulation of Heavy Metals in Sediments of Water Bodies (Concentration in mg/l)
Metal Akkulam Beypore Ashtamudi Vembanad Average
Chromium 39-118 -- 80-155 85-120 90
Lead 88-243 43-172 29-98 30-165 20
Zinc 71-109 79-187 57-208 35-780 95
Copper 20-39 3-9 20-42 27-49 45
Cadmium -- -- 4-27 5-8.5 0.3
Mercury 0.09-0.27 0.05-2.0 0.22-0.85 0.12-11.5 0.4
Source: Varma 2007

The 69 lakh septic tanks and toilet leach pits confine about 8,000 m3/day of septage and fecal sludge. These pollutants when encounter water table cause cross-contamination by pathogenic bacteria, viruses, protozoa and several more complex multicellular organisms (Varma, 2016). More than 90 per cent of the shallow dug wells are associated with bacteriological contamination in Kerala (Harikumar, 2016). Studies indicated that 56 per cent of the contamination cases are due to unscientific construction of latrines, 11 per cent due to animal sources and 33 per cent due to both latrine and animal sources (Harikumar and Kokkal, 2009). 46 per cent of the wells located within a distance of 7.5 m and 12 per cent wells located beyond a distance of 7.5 m from the latrine pits showed the presence of E-coli. The mechanical desludging operations removes about 500 m3/day of septage/fecal sludge in the State currently. There is only one small septage treatment plant at Brahmapuram, Kochi with 100 KLD capacity and in Thiruvananthapuram, the Sewage Treatment Plant receives part of the septage/fecal sludge. Therefore, most of the septage/fecal sludge removed ultimately reaches water bodies clandestinely. Consequently, the water bodies of the State receives solid and BOD load of 3,150 tons and 2,100 tons respectively. The untreated solid waste around 4,100 tpd causes the generation of leachates to the tune of 2,200 m3/day or about 11 tpd of chemical oxygen demand (Varma, 2017). There are also localised water quality problems associated with excess iron, low pH, excess fluoride and salinity intrusion. There are also pollution linked to the fertilizer and pesticide residues from agricultural activities and nutrient discharges from the solid and liquid waste streams. As a result, most of the water bodies in the State exhibit exorbitant growth of aquatic plants and subsequent eutrophication.

Box 7.1
Brahmapuram Model Septage Management Facility

Considering the serious issue of septage and fecal sludge management, the Kochi Corporation with the financial assistance of KSUDP has taken a lead to install a model pilot Septage Treatment Plant at Brahmapuram costing around 4.2 crore. The plant inaugurated in 2015 has a capacity of 100 KLD. The capacity is adequate only to about half lakh households/institutions It receives 10-20 tanker loads of septage on a daily basis with a payment of 400 per load. The treated water is disposed to public drain as stipulated by the Pollution Control Board and the sludge removed is stored to be composted and used as manure after testing. Installed, operated and maintained by IMG Engineering Limited, Thiruvalla, it is the first ever septage treatment plant in Kerala for treating septage and fecal sludge collected from septic tanks and toilet leach pits.

Air Pollution

In Kerala, the assimilative capacity of air is generally good due to favourable meteorological factors and high density of trees with superior leaf area index. The ambient air quality monitoring carried out at 30 stations indicates that the annual average concentrations of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and ozone are not exceeding the desirable limits (KSPCB, 2012). However, the annual average values of respirable suspended particulate matter are found exceeding the limit at seven stations in the State, i.e., one spot at Thiruvananthapuram, 5 spots at Ernakulam and one spot at Thrissur. The major causative factor for the increase being the road congestions and burning of hydro-carbons mainly from vehicular movement. In the most industrialised region of the State, Kochi, the emission load from vehicular sources is 4 times higher than that of industrial sources. Historically, the number of vehicles in Kerala was low, only 0.24 lakh in 1960, 5.81 lakh in 1990, 19.1 lakh in 2000 and 53.98 lakh in 2010 and 102 lakh in 2016. While road length in Kerala increased by 66 percent between 2005-06 and 2012-13 (from 160,944 km to 243,373 km), the number of motor vehicles increased by 157.8 percent, i.e. from 3,122,082 lakh in 2005 to 8,048,673 lakh in 2013. According to latest estimates every day about 3,171 vehicles are newly added in the State. Consequent to the increase in vehicles, 40 lakh litres of petrol and 80 lakh litres of diesel are sold through 3,100 retail outlets in the State every day. Studies indicate that two-wheelers are dominant source of emissions of Mobile Source Air Toxics (MSATs)-formaldehyde (37 per cent), hydrocarbons (35 per cent) and acetaldehyde (64 per cent). Private cars are responsible for majority of the carbon monoxide (34 per cent), benzene (48 per cent), and total aldehyde (40 per cent) emission. Heavy-duty commercial vehicles (HCVs) emit nearly 46 per cent of all particulate pollutants. Studies also show that the cars (30-34 per cent) produce the highest CO2 emissions (Anon. 2016, KSPCB, 2012). The higher fugitive dust emissions are also observed in places of poor road conditions, construction sites, earth excavation sites etc.

Environmental Impact of Pollution

Impact on Health

Though the State could address effectively the first-generation issues with respect to human excreta disposal, there are serious second-generation issues of water pollution. The level of solid and liquid waste generation is high even in rural areas corresponding to the relatively higher standard of living in the State. The magnitude of land, water and air pollution is also relatively high leading to dwindling environmental assimilative capacity. The level of morbidity is high in Kerala and the disease burden is on the increase. While Kerala made remarkable achievements with respect to mortality and fertility, the "low mortality and high morbidity syndrome" given the higher level of literacy, better healthcare infrastructure and higher utilisation of health care services is attributable directly or indirectly to the issues in sanitation and environmental pollution in the State. Over the last few years, there have been increase in prevalence and incidence of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the State, such as diarrheal diseases, hepatitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis etc. The increase in respiratory and water-borne diseases are directly attributable to the lack of sanitation and hygiene, environmental pollution and unsafe drinking water.

Impact on Ecosystem

The haphazard construction of roads and various hydraulic barriers are causing serious flushing inadequacies and many of the drainage systems are dilapidated and clogged. The indiscriminate and increased discharge of organic wastes and fertilizer residues into water bodies are causing incessant weed growth and rampant eutrophication issues in Kerala. The huge BOD load and silt inflow are causative factors for the shrinkage of water bodies. The post 1990 period witnessed a rapid growth of the services sector (and allied components in the secondary sector- for example construction) and consequent increase of waste causing pollution of water, choking of drainages, water logging, increase in the incidence of vector borne communicable diseases and so on. In terms of some of the key indicators like water quality, increasing incidence of communicable diseases etc., Kerala is becoming a less livable place. Climate change, especially the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events is adding a new dimension. Realising the criticality of sanitation and hygienic environment, the State over the years have taken various interventions to address the issues.

Impact on Tourism

Environment constitutes the inner value, the ground on which the tourism is built, particularly in Kerala. Therefore, the environmental resources form the capital of tourism sector in Kerala. The brand name of tourism in Kerala "God's Own Country" is an implicit invitation to enjoy the boundless natural beauty of the State. Therefore, adverse impacts on any ecosystem decelerate the growth of tourism in the State. Accumulation of waste at places, roads and public places with waste litters, polluted water bodies, stagnant contaminants, eutrophication of lakes and water ways etc adversely affects the aesthetic appearance and hygienic environment of locations. This, in turn, impacts the tourism destinations adversely. Kerala has adopted Responsible Tourism (RT) as the bed rock of its tourism policy. It involved sustainable resource use, waste reduction, conserving natural diversity. However, RT practices are yet to be spread beyond pilot destinations.

Measures Undertaken

Institutional Reforms

The sanitation history of Kerala dates back to 1900 when bucket type latrines were first introduced in Trivandrum. It progressed well in selected pockets with the support of international agencies and got a fillip during the People's Plan Campaign since 1996 when the responsibility of sanitation was devolved to the local governments. The government launched Kerala Total Sanitation and Health Mission (KTSHM) to support the local governments for achieving improved hygiene through behavioral change in sanitation practices. The effort of KTSHM took the State to a near open defecation free status by achieving almost 97 per cent toilet coverage, much ahead of all other states. The menace of solid waste was increasing and the local governments, mostly were not having technical support, trained manpower and financial capacity to deal with the situation. Consequent to the increased inflow of plastics to the municipal waste and reduced consumption of market waste in agricultural activities, two major cities of the State, Njeliyanparamba, Kozhikkode and Vilappilsala, Trivandrum set up centralised composting plants in the year 2000. In 2004, Government launched the Clean Kerala Mission (CKM) for providing technical support and gap fund to the local governments for complying with the provisions of Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000. It facilitated the establishment of a few centralised plants and decentralised waste management systems, especially in markets and institutions. In 2006, a detailed sectoral status study on municipal solid waste management was taken up with the support of Water and Sanitation Programme - South Asia of the World Bank. The results of the study and the experience of KTSHM and CKM enabled the State to prepare a comprehensive Zero Waste Kerala (Malinya Muktha Keralam) Action Plan in 2007. Accordingly, an institutional reform was effected by merging KTSHM & CKM and forming the Suchitwa Mission (SM) in 2008. The Suchitwa Mission evolved an Overflow Waste Management (OWM) strategy thereby thrust was on segregated collection and storage of waste and treatment of bio-degradable at source as far as possible. While this strategy was gaining acceptance, there were buildup of local agitation due to poor social and environmental safeguards at some of the centralised waste management system. Consequently, the Government in 2012 declared its intent to install centralised waste to energy plants, but it did not happen. Subsequently, the Government modified the waste management strategy and assigned the responsibility of waste management to the producer. In line with this, the Suchitwa Mission extended assistance to local governments and many of the local governments initiated actions. One notable example is the Alappuzha Municipality which got recognition from the United Nations as one of the five cities in the world that are working towards curbing pollution through sustainable solid waste management practices.

Box 7.2
Alappuzha Municipality

Known as ‘Venice of the East, the Alappuzha town, characterised by 2 big and 104 small canals, on the banks of Vembanad Lake is regarded as a tourist paradise. The closure of the centralised waste management and dumping facility at Sarvodayapuram in 2012 necessitated an alternative as the city was generating around 60 ton of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) per day. Under the leadership of the Member of Legislative Assembly from Alappuzha, a campaign namely "Clean home- Clean City" was launched to take up the challenge of managing the MSW without any infrastructure support. With the help of Suchitwa Mission, 3000 domestic biogas plants and 2800 pipe compost units were installed first and its use ensured. Subsequently, 18 units of 220 aerobic bins, known as Thumboormoozhi model' were installed and its operation and maintenance supported. The non-biodegradables around 14 tons per day is regularly transferred to 10 mini and one centralised Material Recovery Facility (MRF), installed adjacent to the aerobic units. Further, more aerobic bins are installed and action taken to promote source treatment at least at 50 per cent of the households. The sanitary workers of the Municipality, Kudumbasree Service Team, School Watsan Clubs play major roles in sustaining the system. With the success of Thumboormozhi model of composting, it is now being replicated elsewhere in the State. The model has been mentioned on the website of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Box 7.3
Vilappilsala Waste Management Plant

Trivandrum Municipal Corporation (TMC), in the year 2000 established an aerobic composting plant at Vilappilsala to treat the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated in the city. The plant, built under BOT scheme, claimed to have a capacity to treat 300 tonnes of MSW per day. The operator used to claim compensation for short-supply of MSW by the TMC. The operator, instead of treating the entire MSW received in the plant, was dumping a considerable portion within the compound. The plant did not have any environmental management system to abate the pollution due to huge quantity of leachate, mitigate the adverse impacts of the open dump, manage the plastics and other non-biodegradables, landfill the discards safely and such other issues. A technical committee, later found that the plant had a capacity to treat only 150 tons of biodegradable waste per day. The increasing pollution load, nuisance to the neighboring population, poor operation and maintenance forced the local people to agitate against the plant. Though the TMC took over the plant, it was too late to bring back the operation to a convincing environmental safeguard level and ultimately the plant was closed in 2012.

Box 7.4
Overflow Waste Management Option

Applicable to the biodegradable waste, an overflow management option envisages the reduction of waste at source, as far as possible, by enforcing and facilitating its management at the smallest unit source. The overflow from these sources are managed at the next higher unit, to the extent possible, in small collectives and further in a next higher collective unit and finally the left over, if any, go to a centralised system. Thereby, the necessity of and pressure on the centralised system will reduce progressively. It means that a local government who enables the management of waste at source with maximum efficiency can get away without a centralised system. However, the reusability and recyclability of non-biodegradables improves with increasing quantity which demands a centralised facility.

Suchitwa Mission is the nodal agency of the government for spearheading the sanitation and waste management programmes of the State. The Mission conceives and designs various programmes for improving the solid and liquid waste management capabilities, enhancing the awareness to bring about improved behavioral change in sanitation, building the capacity of local governments to tackle existing and emerging issues in sanitation and waste management and organising intensive cleaning drive to maintain the agenda of societal hygiene and environmental cleanliness. The Mission is also the nodal agency to implement the centrally sponsored Swachh Bharath Abhiyan, both for urban and rural sector. The Government of India also has supported the mission to have a Communication and Capacity Building Unit (CCDU) for sanitation.

Suchitwa Keralam Scheme

The major initiative under the scheme is management of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).The local governments are enabled to prepare Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for designing holistic or issue based waste management solutions as well as for construction or modification of waste treatment plants. The mission scrutinises and improvises the DPRs and provides technical approval and financial support up to 100 per cent. The schemes include installation/upgradation of treatment plants at the household, institutional and community level (source level) for biodegradable waste and material collection and recovery facility (MRF) including plastic shredding units for non-biodegradable waste and electronic wastes. The Mission also supports development of sanitary landfill, green belt for waste management yard etc.

The Mission promotes source level segregation and treatment of bio-degradable fraction of solid waste at households, flats, residential colonies, institutions, hospitals, markets and schools. These initiatives, are encouraged by providing 75 per cent subsidy for biogas plants (50 per cent by Suchitwa Mission Subsidy limited to 5,000 and 25 per cent by the local governments). In the case of source level composting systems using ring composting, bucket bin composting, pot composting etc., 90 per cent subsidy (75 per cent by Suchitwa Mission and 15 per cent by Local Governments). The institutions such as hotels, chicken stalls, hospitals, schools, offices, hospitals are being encouraged to set up source level treatment facilities by offering a subsidy at the rate of 50 per cent subject to a maximum of 1 lakh.

The meat/egg requirements of the State are mainly met by the animals/poultries from neighboring States. These animals/poultry are processed in local slaughterhouses, and majority of them are without any license or registration. The Committee appointed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court estimated that yearly, about 4 lakh tone of mutton and 6 lakh tone of beef are produced in Kerala by slaughtering 26.5 million goat and sheep and 3 million cattle in the State. The Committee observed that most of the slaughter houses in the State currently are inadequate, unhygienic and not equipped with adequate facilities as per norms for modern abattoirs. Considering the population and meat requirement, there is a minimum requirement of 7 large abattoirs, 22 medium abattoirs and at least 225 small abattoirs. Suchitwa mission along with Directorate of Urban Affairs is providing technical and financial assistance to build modern abattoirs for which funds are being made available under Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

Suchitwa mission along with Directorate of Urban Affairs is also providing technical and financial assistance to build modern crematorium for Local Governments, especially the LPG based ones.

Kerala generates about 8,000 m3/day of septage/fecal sludge and currently there is only one facility of 100 KLD capacity at Brahmapuram, Kochi. The Sewage Treatment Plant at Thiruvananthapuram also receives septage removed by the vacuum suckers made available by the Corporation of Thiruvananthapuram. The mission is entrusted to address the issue but the progress is quite inadequate. In addition, the liquid waste, mostly the grey water, generated in hospitals, slaughter houses, residential colonies, institutions etc are let out to the environment posing very serious threat to the water bodies. The Mission provides technical and financial assistance for preparation of Detailed Project Report for institutional liquid waste management system and their implementation.

Suchitwa Mission also organises pre-monsoon cleaning campaign and observance of dry day through the local governments to prevent proliferation of mosquitoes and other vectors during monsoon season to control the spread of contagious diseases. The Mission also campaigns for improved sanitation behaviour, popularise green protocols, waste management at sources, reduction of disposables including plastics, production and sales of eco-friendly products (cloth bags, paper bags, paper pen etc.).

As most of the non-biodegradable waste including plastics generated in the State has good recycling value and since recycling is one of the most environment friendly activities, mission is taking various initiatives to promote this. The Mission provides technical and financial support for establishment of Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) where the non-biodegradables waste from local governments could be gathered, sorted and made available for reuse or recycling.

In order to enable the Local Self Government Institutions (LSGIs) to build and operate improved sanitation and waste management systems, the Mission strengthened its Technical Support wing. It has accredited experienced agencies that can extend service to the LSGIs as well as enlisted service providers with capabilities in establishing various waste management installations. The mission, with the help of technical experts in the sector, scouts for newer technologies and agencies and enlist them as service providers for providing more and modern technology options for the LSGIs and other institutions. The Mission also organises continuous capacity building activities to all stakeholders and established a pool of resource persons in every districts who are available for supporting the local governments.

Swachh Bharath Abhiyan (SBA)

It is a campaign to eliminate open defecation in the country through construction of household and community-owned toilets and ensuring its use and cleanliness. The campaign also aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of the cities, towns, and rural areas of the country. The mission is a continuation of the Total Sanitation Campaign with augmented campaign support, coordinated vigil, strict monitoring mechanisms and innovative challenge methods. Launched on October 2, 2014, the SBA is supported by the Government of India and State Government to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. The mission is operated through two sub-missions, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin) and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Urban). Under SBA (G), financial assistance is provided under Individual Household latrines (IHHL), Rural Sanitation Mart (RSM), Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM), Information Education and Communication (IEC) campaign for improved hygiene and overall environmental upgradation. The SBA (Urban), in addition to the financial assistance for household, community and public toilets, SWLM, IEC and awareness and capacity building, organised Swachh Sarvekshan 2017 to assess the performance of cities based on key thematic parameters such as sweeping, collection and transportation of Municipal solid waste, processing and disposal of solid waste, Open defecation free/toilets status, Capacity building and e-Learning, provision of public and community toilet seats and IEC and behavioral change. Though the performance of the cities of the State was not encouraging in Swachh Sarveshan, Kerala achieved Open Defecation Free status under SWA (Grameen) and nearing the declaration under SWA (urban).

Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU)

The Government of India has sanctioned a CCDU specifically for sanitation sector with the objectives to develop State specific information, education and communication strategy and provide capacity development of functionaries at all levels. The unit is providing IEC/HRD support to the Suchitwa mission and providing inputs to the projects undertaken under Swachh Bharat Mission.

Recent achievements in Sanitation and Waste Management Sector

The State of Kerala is the third and the largest State declared as Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) by constructing the remaining 174,720 toilets, especially in critical areas like remote Tribal hamlets and water-logged areas in the year 2016-17 (Table 7.5). In the urban sector, 92 urban local bodies out of 93 have become ODF by now (Table 7.6).

Table 7.5
Details of the Type of Sanitation Facilities in Kerala
No. Name of the District No. of GPs IHHL Target Kerala Kerala India
1 Thiruvananthapuram 73 14,211 14,211 100 73
2 Kollam 68 12,777 12,777 100 68
3 Pathanamthitta 53 10,182 10,182 100 53
4 Alappuzha 72 14,985 14,985 100 72
5 Kottayam 71 9,141 9,141 100 71
6 Idukki 52 21,081 21,081 100 52
7 Ernakulam 82 7,808 7,808 100 82
8 Thrissur 86 3,002 3,002 100 86
9 Palakkad 88 23,075 23,075 100 88
10 Malappuram 94 12,011 12,011 100 94
11 Kozhikode 70 12,799 12,799 100 70
12 Wayanad 23 13,777 13,777 100 23
13 Kannur 71 7,182 7,182 100 71
14 Kasargode 38 12,689 12,689 100 38
Total 941 174,720 174,720 100 941 3.2
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017
Table 7.6
District-Wise Status of Sanitation and ODF in Urban Areas
No Name of District No. of
IHHL Target Progress Completion No. of Municipalities
declared ODF
1 Thiruvananthapuram 5 6,317 16 6,301 5
2 Kollam 5 3,397 0 3397 5
3 Pathanamthitta 4 1,673 0 1,673 4
4 Alappuzha 6 1,711 0 1,711 6
5 Kottayam 6 1,395 0 1,395 6
6 Idukki 2 445 0 445 2
7 Ernakulam 14 1,686 120 1,566 13
8 Thrissur 8 2,546 0 2,546 8
9 Palakkad 7 894 0 894 7
10 Malappuram 12 2,058 0 2,058 12
11 Kozhikode 8 2,855 0 2,855 8
12 Wayanad 3 912 0 912 3
13 Kannur 10 1,198 0 1,198 10
14 Kasargod 3 770 0 770 3
Total 93 27,857 136 27,721 92 3.2
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017

Developing Solid Waste Management Infrastructure

Suchitwa Mission identified and approved indigenous technologies suitable for the State for source level treatment of waste. It includes pipe composting, pot composting, bucket composting, bio-bin composting, pedestal composting, etc. in addition to vermin-composting, ring composting and biogas plants. The mission approved 74 new service providers (in addition to 21 service providers &2 accredited agencies) for facilitating waste management services to the LSGIs. The mission also imparted training to engineering and health staff of rural and urban local bodies on modern slaughter houses. 18 Municipalities and 8 Gram Panchayats were assisted to prepare DPRs and technical approvals for DPRs of 38 urban local bodies for source level treatment and 18 urban local bodies for common facilities were given after conducting techno legal feasibility studies. Projects for source level treatment of waste and upgradation of existing common facilities of urban local bodies at a cost 50 crore was implemented. Technical approval for establishing slaughter houses were issued to 12 municipalities and 4 Grama Panchayats and 50 per cent financial support was provided. The solid waste management projects sanctioned to urban and rural local governments are detailed in Table 7.7, 7.8 and 7.9.

Table 7.7
Projects in Municipalities/Municipal Corporations
Year Biogas plants Community level
composting devices
Renovation of existing
SLWM plants
Organic Waste
Material Recovery
composting units
2011-12 20767 146841 27
2012-13 16333 140565 3
2013-14 6313 21235
2014-15 1991 9693 4 19
2015-16 626 21081 1
2016-17 2327 18519 4 17 528
Total 48559 357934 39 19 17 528
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017
Table 7.8
Projects in Grama Panchayats
Year Biogas Plant HH level composting devices Aerobic Composting Unit MRF
2011-12 4,601 18,403 -- --
2012-13 39,853 453,855 -- --
2013-14 7,490 71,174 -- --
2014-15 1,830 7007 -- --
2015-16 6,020 57,049 -- --
2016-17 6,456 16,724 31 4
Total 66,250 624,212 31 4
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017
Table 7.9
Number of Material Recovery Facilities, Plastic Shredding Units and Aerobic Community Units in the State
No District MRF Plastic Shredding Units Thumburmuzhy Aerobins
Existing Spill over 2016-17 Planned for 2017-18 Existing Spill over 2016-17 Planned for 2017-18 Existing units Spill over 2016-17 Planned for 2017-18
1 Thiruvananthapuram 3 23 46 1 3 15 0 12 7
2 Kollam 7 9 18 0 0 7 36 44 187
3 Pathanamthitta 2 2 7 0 0 9 7 0 9
4 Alappuzha 0 5 17 2 2 18 11 3 9
5 Kottayam 12 6 14 0 1 8 23 52 54
6 Idukki 9 7 40 2 0 18 4 5 31
7 Ernakulam 0 0 6 1 3 9 0 0 7
8 Thrissur 4 1 4 2 3 12 0 7 9
9 Palakkad 16 5 29 7 2 13 2 9 9
10 Malappuram 4 4 15 1 3 12 0 0 0
11 Kozhikode 6 3 93 5 0 34 7 0 44
12 Wayanad 0 0 6 7 0 1 0 0 1
13 Kannur 7 8 15 2 7 2 7 0 3
14 Kasargod 0 0 12 1 0 4 0 0 10
Total 70 73 322 31 24 162 97 132 380
Number of Material Recovery Facilities, Plastic Shredding Units and Aerobic community units in the State
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017

Developing Liquid Waste Management Infrastructure

Suchitwa mission extended financial support of 1 crore to Kerala Water Authority for establishing Sewage Treatment Plant Elamkulam, Kochi as a co-treatment plant to handle septage/fecal sludge as well. The mission identified suitable site in all districts with the support of district administration, for establishing standalone septage treatment facilities. A design of standalone septage treatment unit suitable for Kerala has been prepared by the mission. Construction of a sewage treatment plant was initiated at the Government Taluk Hospital, Sasthamcotta, located on the banks of Sasthamcotta lake as part of its eco-restoration plan. Suchitwa Mission also supported various municipalities for establishing waste water treatment facilities. In order to support the SLWM projects, the mission empanelled service providing agencies (Table 7.10).

Table 7.10
Number of Service Providing Agencies
Sectors No. of agencies
Household, Institution, Community level compositing 114
Community Mobilisation 19
Guiding LSGIs to zero waste 7
Dump site Remediation/reclamation 2
Community level SWM (upto 5 TPD) 4
DPR Preparation of LWM projects 10
Implementation of LWM Projects 21
Plan preparation and implementation of Crematorium 5
Planning and implementation of Meat Processing Units 2
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017

IEC and Capacity Building

The Suchitwa Mission implemented an IEC strategy for waste management considering source level treatment, upgradation of existing common facilities and conscience building for avoiding disposable materials as far as possible. The mission also organised various training programmes and that organised in April 2016 to September 2017 are detailed in Table 7.11.

Table 7.11
Training Programmes Organised During April 2016 to September 2017
No. Participant Category No. of Trainings No. of Participants
1 Suchitwa Mission Officials 9 550
2 NGOs 4 175
3 Collaborative department staff 10 2,470
4 Elected representatives 4 179
5 LSGI officials 8 680
6 Volunteers 16 975
7 Resource persons 5 417
8 Scrap dealers 14 2,000
9 Masons (ODF campaign) 1 75
Total 71 7,521
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017

Green Protocol and Swap shops

The Mission formulated a Green Protocol for creating better sanitation behavior and reducing the use of disposables. The first public experiment of the implementation of Green Protocol was attempted in the National Games in 2015 and subsequently attempted in various events and functions organised by government and private institutions leading to the reduction of disposables. In 2016-17, Green Protocol was observed in school arts festival which is the biggest cultural extravaganza of the State. The Attukkal Pongala, a festival entered in the Guinness Book of world records for the maximum number of women congregation (40 lakh) also successfully used Green Protocol for reducing waste generation. Subsequently, many functions organised by political parties, social institutions, religious entities etc are observing green protocol successfully.

The mission also converted the concept of ‘Swap-Shop' into a reality. The swap shops aim to provide a public system for exchanging reusable goods that could be useful for others, thereby reducing the generation of waste. Setting up of swap shops were initiated by 93 municipalities, many of which are successful examples. There are 16 permanent swap shops which function on a monthly or weekly basis. There are also 62 temporary swap shops.

Box 7.5
Green Protocol

It is a set of guidelines for changing individual and social attitude and behavior towards zero waste and improved hygiene. The guidelines, in general, persuade to do away with disposables, promote usage of reusables and recyclables, reduce waste, segregate waste at source, treat biodegradables at the source itself, facilitate the reuse and recycle of non-biodegradables etc. It was first attempted in the National Games held in Kerala in 2015 and later extended to various public and private functions, small and big. Now more and more institutions are adopting the protocol, especially marriages, festivals, pilgrfiguress etc. It maximises the use of environmental friendly materials and prevent the accumulation of disposable materials. The Government now ordered all its departments and sub-offices to observe Green Protocol strictly. The Suchitwa Mission under the banner of Haritha Keralam Mission is now building a public campaign to popularise the observance of Green Protocol all over Kerala.

Financial Performance

The financial performance of the four major schemes of the mission are given in Table 7.12. The average input under the Suchitwa Keralam project during the last five years in rural and urban areas are 2,414 lakh and 3,112 lakh with an average expenditure of 91 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. The average input under Swatch Bharat Abhiyan in rural areas is 10,299 lakh with an average expenditure of 85 per cent. The input of Swatch Bharat Abhiyan in urban areas was available only since 2015-16 and the average input and rate of expenditure are 3,040 lakh and 32 per cent respectively. The details of the financial performance efficiency are given in Table 7.12.

Table 7.12
Scheme wise Financial Performance
Year SuchitwaKeralam Swatch Bharath Abhiyan
Rural Urban Grameen Urban
2013-14 100 91 71 --
2014-15 88 89 90 --
2015-16 86 87 89 73
2016-17 69 75 90 18
2017-18* 91 29 85 5.4
*Up to 30.9.2017
Source: Suchitwa Mission, 2017

Management of Plastics Discards and E-waste

The disposable plastics and e-waste need special attention as the former causes severe secondary impacts and the latter causes dangerous pollution. At the same time these materials have very high recycle potential, if collected, segregated and processed appropriately ensuring environmental safeguards. Considering the twin advantages of managing the discards and using the wasted material as a resource, government promoted Clean Kerala Company (CKC) Limited in 2013. The company was initially entrusted with the task of collecting plastic discards and electronic wastes and their recycling. Now the company is also entrusted with the task of receiving bio-degradable discards from the Material Collection Facilities (MCF) established by the local governments and establishing and operating Resource Recovery Facilities (RRF).

CKC has collected about 108 ton of low grade plastic discards by paying 2 per kg of waste from the local governments and generated a revenue of 9.91 lakh. The recent notification of Ministry of Surface Transport, Government of India necessitate mixing of plastic discards with bitumen in the roads constructed within 50 km radius of the cities with a population of 5 lakh. In 2016-17, the State government has decided to add shredded plastics in lieu of bitumen for 10 per cent of the roads constructed by the local governments in Kerala. Accordingly, in 2016-17, 28.3 km roads have been constructed by adding about 42 ton shredded plastics in 152 local governments. In addition, 8 ton shredded plastics have been used by the State Public Works Department for roads constructed by them. The company is procuring shredded plastics from the local governments at a cost of 15 per kg and sold at cost of 20 per kg and made an income of about 7.7 lakh. It is estimated that there is a requirements of 1.3 ton of shredded plastic for constructing a kilometer length of road having a width of 3.75m. In 2017-18, it has been decided to enhance the collection and use of shredded plastics in the construction of roads to the tune of 35,000 ton. Accordingly, CKC is supporting the local governments to procure and install plastic shredding machines and to provide associated technical assistance. It also provides an anticipated employment potential of 10,000 in the State.

CKC has contracted M/s Earth Sense Recycle Pvt. Ltd., an agency approved by the Central Pollution Control Board, for receiving, transporting and recycling the e-waste collected and transferred by the government institutions including local governments. So far about 320 tons of e-waste has been collected and transferred for recycling by various government institutions such as Cochin University (43,835 kg), Kerala University (37,947 kg), Engineering College, Thrikkakkara (13,865 kg), Municipal Corporation, Kollam (6,048 kg), District Police Chief, Kannur (5,690 kg), Keltron, Thiruvananthapuram (6,020 kg), Hindustan News Print (3,905 kg), Civil Station, Ernakulam (10,580 kg) and 10 other such institutions. The e-waste also includes discards such as tube lights, CFL tubes and bulbs, printer cartridge etc. included in the hazardous category. The hazardous waste, generally about 20 per cent of the total e-waste collected, is transferred to the agency by paying a handling charge of 35 kg and other e-waste are sold to the company at a cost of 32 per kg.

Interventions for Pollution Control

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is the statutory authority for implementing pollution control measures. It was established in 1974 with the objective of prevention and control of water pollution in the State. Over the years, the scope increased with the enactment of new statutes aimed at protecting different aspects of the environment. The Board is now responsible for implementing the following statutes (Table 7.13)

Table 7.13
Statutes Under KSPCB
1 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1976
2 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules, 1979
3 Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1984
4 Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (i) Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986
(ii) Hazardous and other Wastes (Management, and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016
(iii) Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989
(iv) Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
(v) Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998
(vi) Plastics Waste Management Rules, 2016
(vii) Solid Wastes (Management) Rules, 2016
(viii) Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000
(ix) Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001
(x) E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016
(xi) Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016

The present infrastructure of the Board consist of the Head Office at Thiruvananthapuram, three Regional Offices at Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode, 14 District Offices with laboratory facilites, a Central laboratory at Ernakulam and a Regional Laboratory at Kozhikode. Considering the magnitude of potential polluter density in Ernakulam district, there are three district offices in Ernakulam district, one looking after the Kanayannur, Kochi and Aluva Taluks; second looking after Kothamangalam, Kunnathunad, Moovattupuzha Taluks and the third looking after the Environmental Surveillance Centre at Eloor for industries at Eloor-Edayar area and also to deal with North Paravur Taluk. The Board is also the statutory authority for planning, supervising and implementing a comprehensive programme for the prevention and control of pollution in the State of Kerala.

Implementation of Pollution Control Measures

The objective of the Board has been to bring all hospitals, industries, municipalities and other establishments in Kerala under the consent regime, create awareness on pollution prevention and ensure environmental improvement of the State. Notwithstanding various infrastructural handicaps, it is pointed out that the Board could bring more than 15,000 industries, 4,000 hospitals and 42 municipalities and other establishments under the consent regimes.

During the last 4 years, the KSPCB was allotted 2430 lakh out of which 72 per cent was expended. The allocation was for operationalising the regulatory mechanism (300 lakh), environmental monitoring and management (1,430 lakh), capacity building (55 lakh) and infrastructure upgradation (635 lakh). Under regulatory mechanism, incentives have been provided for pollution control, training has been extended to stake holders on rules/environment issues and efforts have been made to generate public awareness on the need for improved environmental upkeep. Under environment monitoring and management programme, various activities such as Periyar river water quality surveillance programme, environmental upkeep of Sabarimala, environment management of polluted sites, impact monitoring of contaminated sites, improvement of sanitation facilities in and around Veli-Akkulam lake, ambient noise mapping, preparation of environment status report, classification of water bodies in the State, preparation of water and air quality directory and maintenance of ambient air and water monitoring stations have been done. Incentives have been provided to local self-government and public health care institutions for better management of waste. Further, steps have been taken for establishing common biomedical waste treatment facilities, remediation of hazardous waste contaminated site and setting up of common Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) at Aroor and Chandiroor. Capacity building programme for the employees have been taken up for improving the performance efficiency. Under the infrastructure upgradation programme, laboratory equipment have been procured, the laboratories of the Board have been upgraded to NABL status, dynamic website has been commissioned and automation has been improved.

The Integrated Consent to Establish (ICE) for industries/health care institutions/other establishments and Integrated Consent to Operate (ICO) for permitting the operation of such units are used as the main tools for monitoring the compliance and enforcement of pollution control rules and guidelines. This has been automated since June 15, 2014 and as on July 18, 2016, KSPCB has issued 6,744 Consent to Establish and 32,541 Consent to Operate permits. The non-complying units are issued directions for closure as per section 41 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and under section 31 (A) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. In order to speed up the enforcement, the power of issuing direction for closure of non – complying industries/establishments has been delegated to the District Officer of the Board.

Haritha Keralam Mission

In 2016, government launched the Haritha Keralam Mission as an enabling entity to regain the past glory of Kerala in cleanliness, plush water and safe to eat agricultural food produces as well as to counter the challenges of climate change. This was to be achieved by making use of the linkages between water conservation, waste management, organic/natural farming and environmental security. Accordingly, the mission is functioning through three sub-missions namely water conservation, safe agricultural production and waste management. The water conservation is achieved through various micro-watershed based interventions including improved groundwater recharging initiatives, renovation and construction of traditional water bodies, desilting reservoirs, rejuvenation of streams and rivers and massive effort for water harvesting wherever feasible to ensure water security. The food security is targeted through expansion of paddy cultivation to 3 lakh Ha and promotion of vegetable cultivation wherever possible are envisaged through safe agricultural means. The waste management is proposed to be improved by adopting over-flow management options. It involves segregation of waste at sources, conversion of biodegradable waste to manure or gas at the source itself, as far as possible, establishing decentralised composting facilities for those sources having constraints and centralised option for treating overflows. The mission also involves collection of all the non-biodegradables (plastics etc.) by establishing material collection facilities and promotion of material reuse and recycling through Resource Recovery Faculties. It is also proposed to adopt centralised waste management solutions for major cities and centralised septage treatment plants in various districts.

In order to achieve the targets, the mission provides enabling support to local governments and integrating sectoral department actions through convergence of various schemes, capacity development, technology inputs and rationalising the use of financial resources from various sources/schemes. The mission, launched on December 8, 2016, undertook field level consultations and agenda-setting workshops and formulated the plan of actions. It took initiatives to organise orientation and training so as to constitute development missions at the State, District and local government level by April 2017 through field level consultations, series of training in collaboration with Kerala Institute of Local Administration and organisational actions. Working with concerned line departments and missions such as Suchitwa mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Kudumbasree mission, Saksharatha mission etc. the mission launched various campaigns for water conservation, cleaning and improved waste management, agricultural promotion etc. It organised or supported the Jalajagratha campaign, promotion of the use of coir geo-textiles, conceptualisation and promotion of green technology centres, environmental literacy campaign, Haritholsavam campaign for schools, pre-monsoon cleaning campaign, planting of about 1 crore tree saplings on the environment day etc. The water conservation campaign resulted in the construction of about 8,000 wells and ponds and renovation/rejuvenation of about 36,500 water bodies. The mission instilled confidence and facilitated the local governments for building participatory actions to rejuvenate about 8 streams. The mission was strengthened with critical minimum man-power by July 2017 and since then there are enhanced activities at the district and local government's level based on the comprehensive guidelines on waste management and water conservation.

Freedom from Waste Campaign

In order to intensify waste management activities in the State, a special campaign was launched on August 15, 2017 after a month long preparatory activities. A series of training was undertaken at various levels in which 3.1 lakh people were trained for carrying out a participatory study on the current waste management status in households and institutions, prepare a plan of action for each ward of local governments and declare freedom from waste. The study/survey involving about 1.54 lakh squad consisting of volunteers, resource persons, elected representative etc visited almost 56 per cent of the households as to how they are managing their waste and proposes to handle the waste that is generated at source. The study indicated that almost 77 per cent of the households are disposing the biodegrable waste at the source itself and 45 per cent are adopting composting practices by some means. It is estimated that 32 per cent of the households are adopting improved composting practices. 39 per cent of households reported that they are littering. 27 per cent of the households are disposing the grey waste water to soak pits and the rest are disposing it to the open either in their premises or to public drains. Vacuum pumps and trucks empty 7 per cent of the septage/fecal sludge from septic-tanks/leach-pits, most of which ultimately reaches the water bodies. And 49 per cent of the households are willing to pay for obtaining improved waste management services. Based on the status report of each local governments, projects clinics and consultations were held based on which the local governments reviewed their plan of actions, if any, in the sanitation and waste management sector. About 300 local governments have revised their projects or evolved new projects and planned to launch it on the November 1, 2017 as targeted. These projects addresses components of comprehensive waste management components such as segregation of waste at source, Haritha Karma Sena for facilitating non-biodegradable waste collection from source and biodegradable waste for those locations having constraints, establishing material collection facility and resource recovery centres for non-biodegradable waste management, installing household, institutional and decentralised facility for treating biodegradable waste, borrowing help and assistance from Haritha Sahaya Sthapanam as well as Clean Kerala Company. The projects that are initiated will be brought to fully operational by January 1, 2018 and by March 31, 2018, waste management activities will be initiated in all the local governments.

Lessons Learnt

Considering the fragile environmental systems of Kerala, the carrying capacity of the State is limited to restrained livelihood and non-aggressive developmental interventions. It implies that improvement in the quality of life of the State is possible only when the pattern and levels of production-consumption activities are compatible with the capacities of natural environment to assimilate the impacts. Therefore, the growth potential of Kerala sustains only with improved natural resource enrichment and reduced pollution load. It necessitates the caring of environmental security by addressing the issues of land, water and biota as well as waste management and mitigation of pollution. The efforts of the government for enabling environment-linked actions by local governments and development departments supported by mission mode initiatives are expected to bring about a green development pattern for the State that can regain water security, lush green agricultural tracts, carbon neutrality and environmental security. The overflow waste management system is found to provide the most appropriate strategy for solid and liquid waste management in Kerala wherein the priority is for decentralisation and centralisation is subjected to the characteristics of waste.