Solid waste refers to various varieties of old and used articles e.g., stained pins, broken glassware’s, plastic containers, polythene bags, waste papers, ashes and domestic garbage etc. which are discarded and thrown away after use. These are also termed as refuse, garbage and rubbish etc. and are generated from two sources: (i) household/domestic establishments, and (ii) industrial/commercial establishments.
These are injurious to human health causing air pollution because of their obnoxious odor and harboring bacteria, mosquitoes, flies and rodents etc. which help in the spread of diseases like typhoid, diphtheria, diarrhea, cholera, maleria, dengu etc.
With growing impact of Western culture, which puts emphasis on use and throws practice, solid waste disposal is becoming a problem particularly in the urban areas of the country. Forty-five major Indian cities with a population of over 300,000 generate
more than 50,000 tons of solid wastes every day. Mumbai alone produces 4,400 tons of wastes per day which is collected through 16,000 workers and 270 Lorries.
It is disposed off in the dumping sites at Deonar, Malad, Muland and Dharvari Mohan Creek. Kolkata daily generates about 4,000 tons of garbage whose 70 per cent is disposed off successfully. Delhi metropolis daily produces about 4,000 tons of wastes (425 gr/day/person), which are dumped in low lying areas of Ghazipur, Jaitpur, Mandi and Bhatti. In Chennai, the total of 2,500 tons of garbage generated every day is largely disposed off around coastal areas.
Ahmadabad tops the list in per capita production of urban wastes (535 g/day whereas Vadodara occupies the lowest position 300 g/day). The cities of Kanpur and Lucknow daily produce about 1,000 and 900 tons of garbage. About one-third of the city garbage of Kanpur is not disposed off successfully which leads to the deterioration of the urban environment. Huge quantity of medical garbage is generated by the hospitals, dispensaries and nursing homes of the metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, and Delhi etc. which cannot be disposed off through normal process. Very few hospitals and nursing homes have installed incinerators to successfully dispose of this garbage.
In Talcher valley coal mining area the entire landscape has been dotted with artificial hills produced by opencast mining. During rainy season these artificial hills collapse, burying the houses and agricultural fields of the neighbouring areas. Opencast mining, which accounts for 95 per cent of mines in Orissa, is gradually turning the region into wastelands.
The problem of solid waste pollution can be tackled by promoting its successful disposal, recycling process and by educating the people. A portion of the city garbage, if managed properly, can yield good manures for agricultural fields and gardens. In mining, especially open cast mining, there should be strict provision for leveling the area and planting vegetation before abandoning the mines.