PRIVATIZATION OF SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT SERVICES IN CITIES „99
(Note submitted to hon. Supreme Court in October 1999)
1, The March 1999 Report on Solid Waste Management in Class 1 Cities, sub-
mitted by the Expert Committee appointed by this hon’ble Court, has built upon, and gives practical shape to, a long series of Govt of India policy
decisions on all aspects of Urban Solid Waste Management (USWM), beginning in 1944. Seven of the most recent Reports are listed in Anx A hereto, including the Bajaj Committee Report filed as Paper Book 2 of this WP 888/96.
2. ALL of these cited Reports, dating from 1992 onwards have, over the past 7
years, consistently recommended that Municipalities shift from direct provision of
SWM services to the playing of an enabling, facilitating & supervisory role instead.
Anx A also lists selected quotations on the subject from each Report cited.
3. Yet despite these clear and repeated policy statements of Govt intent by
four Ministries (Urban Development, Health, Finance and Environment) and
the Planning Commission, the practical impediments to the implementation of
their privatisation policy have not been addressed. E.g. in Report (2) of Anx A, on page 15, Shri G R Aloria, the Municipal Commissioner of Rajkot (cited as a model
Respondent for its successful privatisation efforts) stated: “About 80% of the solid waste is collected and transported by private participation. SWM to the private sector is assigned on a tenure basis and only after assessing their
efficiency and capability of dealing with the subject, the tenure is extended.
However a few of the problems are encountered by Rajkot Municipality such
as Labour Contract Act, monitoring of SWM activities by the private sector etc ”
4, The 13.8.99 Order of the Mumbai High Court in WP 1027/97, banning contract
labour in the SWM Dept of Mumbai Municipal Corporation, is based on the
existing provisions of The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970
(hereafter referred to as Contract Labour Act].
This Order and I.A. is a typical example of the existing legal impediments
to the Government‟s own consistently - stated privatisation policy.
5, It is for this very reason that the Expert Committee, which includes four of
India’s most successful city managers, has squarely addressed the need for legal clarity to overcome the problems of implementing the privatisation policy
desired by Government and endorsed by every Class 1 City and State/UT. Some
enabling provisions are required in the Contract Labour Act to permit privatisation.
Not one Respondent has objected to Report para 4.13, which states:
“The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition Act) 1970 of the Govt. of
India prohibits contracting out of any service which is being provided by
the ULB through its own staff. In view of the felt need to encourage private
sector participation in SWM services for the reasons mentioned in
paragraph 4.11 above, it is recommended that the Govt. of India may
consider suitable amendments to the aforesaid [Contract Labour] Act to
facilitate NGOs and private sector participation in Solid Waste Management
services in urban areas.”
6. Meanwhile, until such Amendment, the Report advises in para 4.12 :
“NGO as well as Private sector participation may be encouraged in such
a way that it does not affect the interests of the existing labour, it does
not violate the provisions of the above law, does not exploit the
private labour and yet reduces the burden of the urban local body. This
will substantially help in improving the quality of service of the urban
local bodies, effect economy in expenditure and also give scope to the
private sector to enter the waste management market.” The Report’s recommendation in para 4.13 was also intended to facilitate the
replication of the Best Practices described in Anx B hereto, and the need to
balance the interests of the many with the interests of a few.
Inefficient SWM services by permanent-cadre non-performing sweepers, staff
and/or officers daily threaten the health, life and livelihood of lakhs of their
3 unorganised brethren and poorest urban citizens who suffer unhygienic
urban living conditions. The resulting cost to slum-dwellers and others, of
medical care, absence from school and work, and loss of infant, spouse or
bread-winner, is incalculable.
This hon’ble Court, before taking a decision on the said I.A., may be pleased to
seek a rapid response from the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Asim Barman,
stating the Background Facts behind the Committee’s recommendation, the
specific Best Practices it hopes to encourage, and any specific amendments that
are deemed necessary for implementation of Government’s SWM policies.
The hon’ble Court may also be pleased to express its views, and/or invite comment from the Labour Ministry, on whether or not the existing Contract
Labour Act permits, or needs any amendment or enabling provisions to
permit, the following specific activities in Solid Waste Management
recommended in the Government’s earlier Reports cited in Anx A and in the
present Committee’s Report:
(a) Individuals, housing societies, street committees, trade associations and
apartment or commercial complexes, newly-urbanised areas and the like may
hire persons, firms or organisations to collect, transport, process and dispose
of the wastes from their areas.
(b) Municipalities may empower such civic-minded citizens and groups by paying
them upto 80% of what it would otherwise cost the Municipality to provide such
area-wise waste collection, transport, processing and / or disposal services
directly, subject to there being no retrenchment of existing Municipal workers
as a result and no abdication of Municipal responsibility for results.
(c) Municipalities shall be at liberty to consolidate and/or regroup all their available
manpower resources in the interests of efficiency, or for more intensive area
cleaning or market or night cleaning where required, and privatise the cleaning of
the remaining areas, even where this task was performed, poorly or otherwise, by
their own staff. This shall be subject to overall privatisation of upto 50% initially,
to promote healthy competition between Municipal and outside workers.
(d) Municipalities may promote public-private partnerships by any of the measures
recommended in the Finance Ministry’s “Rakesh Mohan” Report (Ref. 7 above,
vol 3 page 51 Anx 7.7; their Table is reproduced at the end of Anx A hereto).
(e) Such PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships) may be with entrepreneurs,
cooperatives of rag-pickers or present or former conservancy workers, NGOs
working for profit or without it, and similar innovative arrangements that may
evolve countrywide over time.
This hon’ble Court may also wish to direct the Labour Ministry to consider the very
atypical and dispersed working geography of conservancy workers in cities and
include special provisions in existing legislation to provide a safe and acceptable
working environment to private SWM workers and to safeguard them from
exploitation without harming the interests of permanent labour.
Petitioner seeks further Directions that whenever the Ministry of Labour drafts any fresh legislation regarding the working conditions of contract labour, it
shall specifically address the subject of conservancy and sanitation service
workers in Class 1 Cities.
The Labour Ministry may be directed to then interact with the members of the Supreme-Court-appointed Expert Committee or with the Technology Mission
for Clean Cities, who should thereafter, as was done in the present case, seek
constructive inputs from a wide cross-section of city managers, concerned NGOs, social activists and union-leaders of both permanent and contract labourers and
waste-collectors, through Regional Workshops and case studies, to evolve an
acceptable countrywide consensus on this important subject.
WP 888/96 1.10.99 ANX A
GOVERNMENT POLICY STATEMENTS RE. PRIVATISATION OF SOLID
WASTE MANAGEMENT SERVICES from 1992 onwards:
1 1992: PRIVATE PARTICIPATION IN MUNICIPAL SERVICE PROVISION
AND INFRASTRUCTURE, Bombay, 30 April 1992, sponsored by Ministry of
Urban Development, GoI + HDFC and ILFS.
Page 27: “there is very considerable scope for seeking economies in urban
infrastructure investment …In view of the massive requirements for urban
infrastructure investment, even relatively small percentage savings in costs
can lead to the saving of hundreds of crores of rupees over a five year plan
Exhibit 2: “Rationale for Alternatives: An important new philosophy is that
city and county officials should take on a new role. Rather than act as
service producers, local officials should become overseers, brokers or
facilitators concerned with the provision of services regardless of how they
are delivered. Officials should consider a spectrum of alternatives to
service delivery to carry out overall local government policy. … local
governments have held a monopoly in delivering services and therefore
lack the motivation to reduce costs or improve performance.”
Chapter 2: “The local government may contract to have all or a portion of the
services provided by the private firms [which] can avoid the bureaucratic problems inherent in local governments.”
Session V. 1(a) para 7: “In many cases, it may be more efficient for government to provide resident associations with a grant and hand over
responsibility to arrange with private firms for the service provision.
Residents are often in a better position to monitor the efficiency of the
private contractor in the delivery of the service than government which
requires a complex and often expensive monitoring system” .
2 1995: NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT, April 7-8
1995, Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment [=MOUAE] of GoI, + W.H.O.
Annex II Page 34: “Shri B S Minhas [Jt Secy (WA) in MOUAE] stated, “So, I
would request all the Municipal authorities who are present here that they
should make sincere efforts to privatise as many aspects of their municipal
services especially those relating to solid waste management as possible. I
understand that this is not an easy task. Especially in the beginning there
will be lot of teething problems, opposition from the local labour unions but
if a sincere effort is made, I am sure we can make some beginning.”
Annex III : Inaugural Address by Smt Sheila Kaul, Minister for Urban Affairs &
Employment, page 38: “Economic reforms and the liberalisation processes have
6 thrown up several opportunities which we should take advantage of. We now
need to create a conducive environment for enabling substantial private
investments in this sector. Legal and procedural hurdles should be
smoothened out. Services like Solid Waste Management, water supply etc
cannot be efficiently managed unless paid for through user charges. It is only
then that private investors would have the confidence to invest in this sector.”
Annex V Dr J P Singh, Secretary, MOUAE page 47: “It is also estimated that the municipalities spend about Rs 130 to Rs 260 per ton of solid waste for
collection, transportation and disposal. About 67% of this amount is spent
on collection alone.” Page 51 “The private sector has the potential to
increase significantly the efficiency of solid waste service delivery [and] is
much more efficient than the municipal collection system. Contract
collection was found to be about 35% less costly than the municipal
collection for comparable service. … Contracting out part of the services
should be done … to create a competition.”
Annex VI page 58: Draft Recommendations “14. Privatisation should be
encouraged and the work contracted out in the places of commercial
establishments and industrial areas.”
Annex X Final Recommendations: “8. Recognising that various activities
of Solid Waste Management can be effectively carried out by the private
sector in a competitive environment, congenial environment should be
created for the private sector participation in Solid Waste Management by
introducing tax holidays, accelerated depreciation, user charges and
increased transparency in the transactions. … 13. Central govt should formulate guidelines and regulatory framework for
attracting and encouraging private capital into the Solid Waste Management
through BOO, BOT, BOLT and other arrangements.”
3 1995: WORKSHOP ON SANITATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL HYGIENE ON
THE LINES OF A TECHNOLOGY MISSION, 10-12 April 1995, National
Institute of Communicable Diseases, Dir-Gen of Health Services, Ministry of
Health & Family Welfare, GoI, + W.H.O.
Page 99: “The mechanism of collection, transportation and disposal may be offloaded to private agencies”
4 1995: NATIONAL MISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SANITA-
TION, July 1995 , Dept of Health in Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GoI.
5 1995: REPORT OF HIGH POWER COMMITTEE : URBAN SOLID WASTE
MANAGEMENT IN INDIA, Planning Commission, GoI, June 1995. (This is the
excellent “Bajaj Committee” Report filed as Paper Book 2 in WP888/96).
“Collection & Transport Para 2.4.14 : The existing system of Municipal Corporations / Municipalities arranging collection through their health /
conservancy departments is not effective and satisfactory in most places.
Participation by local citizens committees, NGOs and private organisations
is needed for ensuring effective garbage collection and transportation.”
6 1996: MANUAL ON SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT, November 1996 by
NEERI + Ministry of Urban affairs & Employment, GoI.
7 1996: THE INDIA INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT, by the Finance Ministry
(Dept of Economic Affairs)’ Expert Group on the Commercialisation of
Infrastructure Projects [more famous as the “Rakesh Mohan Report”]:
Vol 1 page 2: “There is, today, considerable doubt about Government‟s
ability to supply infrastructure services efficiently.”
Vol 1 p. 28: “ Cost minimisation needs appropriate technology, proper attention to maintenance, curbing misuse of services, efficient service
provision. … “waste in each Indian city gets recycled by ragpickers…
Sanitation: …SWD services can be unbundled and most functions entrusted
to the private sector. This is one area where privatisation has shown
consistent productivity gains and cost reductions. ”
Vol 1 p 30: “We Recommend… Urban infrastructure: Public-Private Partnerships (P-P-P) be adopted for the present. … Solid waste disposal
can be privatised fully. … The cost of collection, treatment and disposal of
the solid waste be reduced. Greater attention to segregation of different
kinds of waste at the collection point itself will reduce cost of disposal.
Wherever environmentally acceptable, disposal can be decentralised to
save on transportation cost. … In solid waste management, the “polluter
pays” principle be aplied. … The property tax base be freed from the Rent
Control Act … The ULB be responsible for providing all infrastructure in the
city area. The multiple agencies in charge of providing various services
should be merged under the ULB. ”
Vol III Sector Reports page 41 “Since privatisation or public-private partnerships will be a first-time experience for most administrators, the
requisite skills must be imparted to them.”
Vol III Sector Reports page 51 : “Annex 7.7
ACTIVITY COMMERCIALISATION AGENCIES INVOLVED
Local bodies, private firms, co-Road Sweeping Contractual agreement with private
operatives, NGOs, CBOs. firms, cooperative and NGOs
Solid Waste Leasing or contract, levy of Local bodies, coopera-Collection collection fees from households, tives of waste workers /
commercial establishments, etc ragpickers, NGOs and
private entrepreneurs Solid Waste Leasing to private contractors, Local bodies, industries,
Transportation saving of cost possible due to private concerns
Solid waste Material recovery, biogas production from Local bodies, Treatment & landfills & anaerobic decomposition, industries, Disposal production of compost & RDF, marketing private concerns.
of material and energy recovered.
WP 888/96 SWM “BEST PRACTICES” DESERVING REPLICATION
The Supreme-Court-appointed Expert Committee took note of the following
numerous non-exploitative, employment-generating and successful city-cleaning
initiatives observed countrywide and described below, which deserve replication
but might fall in a grey area for want of clarity in the Contract Labour Act.
(i) In innumerable cities, urban residents have responded to unsatisfactory
waste-management services by creating and evolving their own systems,
based on a small monthly fee of Rs 10-25 per household /shop per month.
(ii) Generally, unemployed entrepreneurs go round neighbourhoods or
commercial streets door-to-door with handcarts, autos or small trucks,
collecting waste at the doorstep and depositing it at the nearest major
Municipal collection-point or dumping it outside the city. This is
commonest in unserved outlying areas. Municipalities are now encouraging
them to transport the waste directly to designated waste-processing and
disposal sites to avoid manual handling and double handling of wastes, as
recommended in all the above-cited Reports, and by the said Committee.
(iii) Numerous NGOs everywhere are promoting this practice as a way of
upgrading waste-pickers from filthy dustbin-rummaging to hygienic
doorstep collection, and providing steady income to many of the poorest.
(iv) Many citizen groups everywhere have progressed to neighbourhood
composting (described in Anx F of the Committee’s Report). In Mumbai
alone, 200,000 residents in 110 societies are reported to have become
"zero-garbage neighbourhoods" that today put out into the Municipal bins
only 8-10% of their former waste quantities, at truly enormous annual
collection and transport savings to the Municipality.
(v) Because of this, Mumbai is pro-actively encouraging, promoting and
liaising with such groups practising “ALM” (Advanced Locality
Management), with an Officer on Special Duty and a vermi-/composting
expert appointed exclusively to provide them official support.
(vi) Many more such groups countrywide are willing to take on local waste-
management if the Municipality provides them even 80% of what it
currently spends on their area every month. This is a win-win situation
for both parties and has been recommended in Ref. 1 Session V. 1(a)
para 7: “In many cases, it may be more efficient for government to
provide resident associations with a grant and hand over
responsibility to arrange with private firms for the service provision.
Residents are often in a better position to monitor the efficiency of
the private contractor in the delivery of the service than government
which requires a complex and often expensive monitoring system.”
(vii) Some Municipalities have already begun adopting the recommendations of
the Interim Report, and have started after June 1998 to implement
decentralised door-step collection and transport of wastes either by
Municipal workers or by others. This had already begun earlier in many
cities for collection of hospital wastes, as a fallout of the recent Biomedical
Waste (Management & Handling) Rules 1998.
(viii) Some cities have significantly improved their waste collection and transport
services by consolidating their existing conservancy work-force and
strengthening it in some Wards, and officially privatising this work in the
remaining Wards with suitable safeguards against both exploitation and
non-performance. Rajkot is the leader in this, with 80% of all services
privatised at considerable cost savings combined with better service.
(ix) Another very good example is in Hyderabad, where tender invitations for
privatised cleaning of standard “Units” of area / waste quantity (assigned
by lots) specify the wages, benefits, safety measures, performance
standards and supervision levels required of private conservancy services
in each such Unit area. Certification of work quality by local residents, and
deduction of payments for poor performance in a variety of ways, are built
into the contracts.
To prevent any set-back to all these positive developments, clarification is
necessary and desirable as to whether the Order dt 13.8.99 of the hon’ble
Mumbai High Court in WP 1027 of 1997 which states that “(a) The system of
employing contract labour on the work in Solid Waste Management Department
shall be discontinued by the first Respondent Corporation with immediate effect"
does or does not affect all the above progressive measures.