Municipal Solid Waste Management
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In this Article, Apoorva Singh Vishnoi of RGNUL discusses the law on Municipal Solid Waste management in India.


India is the third largest producer of waste, specifically municipal solid waste (MSW), in the world[1] with 109,589 tons of waste per day[2]. It has disproportionately high urban waste generation rates per capita because of lack of proper MSW management infrastructure[3]. This country has long been familiar with woes brought by MSW and its substandard disposal. For example, in 1994, a plague broke out in Surat and was attributed to “uncollected solid waste blocking drains” by the official inquiry on its causes[4]. The infamous 2005 flood in Mumbai was also caused due to drains being blocked by plastic bags (its direct consequence being the introduction of Maharashtra Plastic Carry Bag Rules, 2006)[5]. One could find many other incidents and phenomenon which can be linked with the incompetence of civic bodies in MSW management[6].

But when it comes to waste management policy, we may as well as have been in Neolithic time. Until 2000, we didn’t even have any law concentrating on how to deal with MSW. Environmental related legislation such as Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Environment Protection Act, 1986 was introduced but the subject of MSW was neglected legislatively. Certain rules like Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 and Biomedical Waste (Management and handling) Rules, 1998 dealt with the subject only tangentially. This glaring overlook was compounded by the cash-strapped status and general indifference of the civic bodies towards maintaining a functional MSW disposal system.

Almira Patel v. Union of India [7]

It was only after a writ petition, Almira Patel v. Union of India was filed before Supreme Court that the Central government swung into action and notified Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000[8]rules under Section 5 of Environment Protection Act, 1986. These rules finally provided a uniform framework for the local authorities around the country on MSW management.

Before the ruling in Almira Patel, there existed some judgments touching upon this matter. In B.L. Wadhera v. Union of India and Ors.,[9] it was observed by the Supreme Court that “The capital of India is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The authorities, responsible for pollution control and environment protection, have not been able to provide the clean and healthy environment to the residents of Delhi.”

In another case, Municipal Council, Ratlam vs. Vardhichand[10] it was held that “it is not open for the municipalities to plead a lack of funds as a defense for not carrying out its duties. Indeed, a responsible Municipal Council constituted for precise purpose for preserving public health and providing better facilities cannot run away from its principal duty by pleading financial inability.”

But Almira Patel case was the first one that extensively dealt with the subject at such a level. By Supreme Court’s order of 1998, a Committee was formed “to look into all aspects of urban solid waste management”. On submission of its report, the Government came up with the 2000 MSW rules.

The Supreme Court in its 2000 judgment would rebuke various authorities for lack of initiative or inaction and give direction prohibiting accumulation of garbage or other polluted obnoxious matters, cleaning of public premises, ensuring proper and scientific disposal of waste, levying charges for littering etc.

Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000

The 2000 rules were applicable on “every municipal authority responsible for the collection, segregation, storage, transportation, processing, and disposal of municipal solid wastes”. It fixed certain responsibility for municipal authorities, State Governments, and UT Administrations as well as Central Pollution Control Board and the State Board or the Committees in infrastructure development, setting up landfills and other waste processing and disposal facilities, monitoring and ensuring eco-friendly compliance and submitting Annual Reports.

Subsequent cases

Almira Patel Case

  • Regrettably, there is a lot of difference between formation and implementation of rules.
  • The petitioner in Almira Patel case would go on to follow up her first petition with many others on the implementation of the rules and Supreme Court judgments on MSW.
  • In an order dated 4th October 2004 in Almira Patel case, Apex Court pointed out the lackluster implementation by the States and UTs of the 2000 rules.
  • A Committee was formed shortly afterward and following the submission of its report, pilot projects of Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources for the creation of energy from waste were given green light by the Supreme Court.
  • But these projects have proved to be non-starters because of land acquisition problems[11] and more importantly, the non-segregation of waste at the source i.e. division of garbage into ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ garbage for the optimum running of the waste plant[12].
  • Almira Patel then filed numerous applications with NGT on various aspects of MSW management. NGT has directed taking measures to ensure landfill sites do not catch fire in Delhi[13], paying of compensations by railway stations for non-compliance of MSW Rules[14] and dealing of and segregating of MSW by National Highways Authority of India[15] in the latest applications filed by her.

Capt. Mall Singh v. Punjab Pollution Control Board [16]

  • Some NGOs were also apprehensive that these waste plants may end up as pollution creation plant. Before National Green Tribunal, in Capt. Mall Singh v. Punjab Pollution Control Board, the Environmental Clearance to MSW Management and Sanitary Landfill facilities was thus challenged.
  • While the objections raised were not accepted, the state governments were once again directed to implement the 2000 Rules and to divide the states into the cluster for the location of these plants.

Karamjit Singh & Others v. State Of Punjab [17]

  • Many cases have dealt with roadblocks in setting up MSW Plant. In Karamjit Singh & Others v. State Of Punjab[17], a petition was filed by colony residents to remove garbage dump in their vicinity and stop throwing of waste by medical colleges.
  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled in their favour. In addition, it directed setting up of Municipal Solid Waste Management Plant for larger public interest.

Invertis University v. Union Of India [18]

In this case, National Green Tribunal applied “principle of proportionality” based on the concept of balance was applied when a dispute arose on the location of MSW Management Project in Bareilly where there was a conflict between the need to build an MSW plant and the environmental and health concerns of the resident.

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • Under a major overhaul of environmental rules in 2016, these Rules[19] were introduced in supersession of 2000 Rules. They expanded the scope of application of MSW rules by including places of pilgrims, airports, special economic zones, ports and harbors, defence establishments and every domestic, institutional, commercial and any other non-residential solid waste generator under its ambit.
  • The Rules for the first time prescribe the duty of MSW generator. A Central Monitoring Committee is to be constituted for monitoring the implementation. Criteria for land filling and waste-to-energy plants are also provided.
  • The Rules moreover prescribe duties of Ministries and Departments other than Ministry of Environment & Forests. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (Ministry of Urban Development in the Rules) will issue technical guidelines and National Policy on MSW, in addition to providing training and financing and promoting R&D.
  • Departments of Fertilizers & Chemicals (presently divided in Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals and Department of Fertilisers and put under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers) will aid market development for city compost. Ministry of Agriculture will propagate utilization of compost on farm land. Ministry of Power will have to compulsorily purchase power generated from waste-to-energy plants.
  • Central Pollution Control Board will have to coordinate with the State Pollution Control Board, review environmental standards, monitor implementation, publish guidelines and prepare an annual report on implementation.
  • Duties are also assigned to Secretary–in-charge of Urban Development in the States and Union territories, District Magistrate, Village Panchayats, and manufacturers or brand owners of disposable products and sanitary napkins and diapers.

Ancillary Rules

While the 2000 and 2016 rules deal with MSW generally, the following rules cover specific categories of waste that overlap with MSW:

  1. Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 (amended in 2000 and 2003) (superseded)
  2. Biomedical Waste (Management and handling) Rules, 1998 (superseded)
  3. Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999
  4. Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 (amended in 2010)
  5. Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling, and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 (amended on 21st July 2009, 23rd September 2009, 30th March 2010 and 13th August 2010) (superseded)
  6. E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 (superseded)
  7. Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 (superseded)
  8. E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016
  9. Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016
  10. Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016
  11. Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016
  12. Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016


These technical guidelines are given by CPCB and deal with various aspects of waste management:

  • Guidelines on Implementing Liabilities for Environmental Damages due to Handling & Disposal of Hazardous Waste and Penalty
  • Guidelines for Common Hazardous Waste Incineration Criteria for Hazardous Waste Landfills Protocol for Performance Evaluation and Monitoring of the Common Hazardous Waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities including Common Hazardous Waste Incinerators
  • Guidelines for Setting up of Operating Facility: Hazardous Waste Management
  • Guidelines for Proper Functioning and Upkeep of Disposal Sites
  • Guidelines for Environmental Sound Recycling of Hazardous Waste as per Schedule-V of Hazardous Waste (Management Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008
  • Guidelines for the Selection of Site for Landfilling
  • Guidelines for Transportation of Hazardous Wastes
  • Guidelines for Storage of Incinerable Hazardous Wastes by the Operators of Common Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities and Captive HW Incinerators
  • Guidelines for Conducting Environmental Impact Assessment: Site Selection for Common Hazardous Waste Management Facility Manual for ‘Sampling, Analysis, and Characterization of Hazardous Wastes’.


Despite the existence of the better framework for MSW than in the 1990s, as a walk in any non-posh areas of any city will show you, garbage disposal continues to be a problem. While the 2016 Rules set some lofty goals, the delay in implementing the Rules within the time-frame set by them means that they might prove to be a sequel to the 2000 Rules in terms of the state of implementation and the common man will continue to grapple with heaps of garbage. The Rules do not provide for any complaint or grievance redressal system and a suffering party will have to approach the respective State Pollution Control Board or the NGT for deliverance.

Development of Legal framework regulating Municipal Solid Waste Management in India in a nutshell

Municipal Solid Waste Management


[1]ISWA Report 2013, International Solid Waste Association,

[2]Daniel Hoornweg, & Perinaz Bhada-Tata, What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, Urban development series, Knowledge Papers no. 15, World Bank (2012),


[4]Solid Waste Management In The World’s Cities, Water And Sanitation In The World’s Cities 2010, UN Habitat (2010).

[5]V Prasad Modak, Strategic Action Plan for Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, Pune (Vol. I), UNEP DTIE IETC & Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) (2007).

[6]DHNS, Dump yards turn death traps for ragpickers in Hyderabad, DECCAN HERALD November 24, 2011,

[7]2000(2) SCC 166.

[8] Notification No. S.O. 908(E), dated the 25th September 2000.

[9] (1996) 2 SCC 594

[10] AIR 1980 SC 1622

[11] Priyanka Singh, Municipal solid waste treatment plant remains a non-starter,

TIMES OF INDIA, June 16, 2014,

[12] P. U. Asnani, Solid Waste Management, India Infrastructure Report (2006),

[13] National Green Tribunal, Original Application No. 199 of 2014; Original Application No. 61 of 2017; Original Application No. 281 of 2016; Original Application No. 428 of 2017, available at

[14] National Green Tribunal, Original Application No. 552/2017; Original Application No. 553/2017; Original Application No. 554/2017; Original Application No. 555/2017, available at

[15] National Green Tribunal, Original Application No. 199 of 2014; Original Application No. 61 of 2017; Original Application No. 281 of 2016; Original Application No. 428 of 2017, available at

[16] Appeal No. 70 of 2012, National Green Tribunal

[17] Punjab-Haryana High Court, C.W.P.No.3611 of 2009 (O&M).

[18] National Green Tribunal, Application No. 86 OF 2013

[19] G.S.R. 320 (E) dated 18th March 2016.



  1. India need a policy to be implemented by force because we are not disciplined ,uneducated on waste distress,higher density of poor population in metros,more profit alone minded business men etc.

  2. We certainly need to revamp the waste collection process in India. If that is done, any kind of waste, may it be plastic or e-waste, the disposal and recycling of electronic waste or plastic waste or any waste for that matter will be become more efficient.

    • India faces major environmental challenges associated with waste generation and inadequate waste collection. waste disposal services or if you need a Solid Waste Management company.


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