Issues in the Waste Management Scenario in Leh

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

The present waste management system in Leh is designed for collection, partial separation and disposal of waste from the Main Market area in the city. A long-term approach to waste management in Leh, however, would require an upgrade to include, first and foremost, sensitisation and training for avoiding waste generation and wastage, and repurposing and recycling with a view to conserve resources.

Information on waste in Leh is negligible. Data on municipal waste has never been collected in the city, hence, there are no estimates of the quantity and nature of waste produced as well as of the potential for utilising the waste. A formal assessment and feedback of the performance of the municipal waste management system has also not been conducted leaving it to guesswork and assumptions to judge how efficient the system is for the city, what challenges it faces and how people perceive it.

Municipal SWM plant in Choglamsar where waste from about 1000 households in the main market area is managed.

Several gaps in the system of waste management in Leh can be identified.

  1. Municipal waste collection trucks operate on very few routes leaving many households, institutions, shops and restaurants to deal with their own waste.

  2. A lot of the communal waste is dumped in abandoned sites or river bodies without pre-treatment or primary waste separation.

  3. Burning waste in backyards is extremely common and widely accepted especially as the municipal waste collection system is not accessible to all localities.

  4. Participation of residents (waste generators) in waste management is negligible making waste management largely the job of the municipality.

  5. Community education and training for reducing and eliminating waste is not integrated into the waste management system.

  6. Repurposing and recycling of waste for conserving resources and in accordance with circular economy goals is not integrated into the waste management system.

  7. Waste is not recognised as a material resource with potential to be socially and economically beneficial for locals.

  8. A roadmap for long-term waste management - where we currently are and where would we like to reach, say in the next 5 years - does not exist.

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