• Action plans under Swacch Bharat amounting to ₹3226 crore of Central Share (CS) assistance on remediation of legacy waste dumpsites have been approved so far.
  • Although the term “legacy waste” has not been defined in any official government
    document in India, it typically refers to aged municipal solid waste in landfills or
  • There is no information on how old waste must be in order to qualify to be called legacy waste.
  • Legacy waste is a mix of partially or completely decomposed biodegradable waste, plastic waste, textiles, metals, glass and other components.

Composition of legacy waste

  • Typically, Indian dumpsites contain a mix of legacy waste and fresh municipal solid
  • However, the composition and characteristics of legacy waste are different
    from fresh municipal solid waste.
  • The vintage of a landfill considerably influences the composition of the legacy
    waste it contains.
  • Usually, “fines” are the single-largest component of legacy waste.
  • Fines in legacy waste are decomposed and mineralized organic waste
    mixed with silt, sand and fine fragments of construction and demolition (C&D)
  • Fines constitute about 40–60 per cent of legacy waste.
  • Environmental and health hazards


Open dumpsites or unscientific landfills are deemed to be closed when the landfill
reaches an unstable height and additional dumping of waste can lead to landslides.

Toxic leaching:

Unlined unscientific dumpsites produce toxic leachate that forms puddles in the surrounding area and seeps into the ground, polluting both surface-
water and groundwater resources.

Greenhouse gases:

  • Such dumpsites also release greenhouse gases like methane.
  • They are prone to dumpsite surface fires that result in rapid emission of dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere.

Legal framework and judicial interventions

  • The Government of India has notified Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 for proper and effective management of municipal solid waste.
  • It defines the duties and responsibilities of local authorities and village panchayats of census towns and urban agglomerations for dumpsite remediation.
  • They have to investigate all open dumpsites and existing operational dumpsites for their potential of biomining and bioremediation.
  • If there is no potential for biomining or bioremediating a dumpsite, the Rules direct that it shall be scientifically capped as per landfill capping norms to prevent further damage to the environment.
  • On July 17, 2019, the National Green Tribunal passed an order directing that capping of legacy waste would lead to huge environmental and health consequences.
  • The tribunal suggested biomining and bioremediation as environmentally safe and the most preferable approaches to dumpsite remediation


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