07-12-2017 12:30 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
From filth filled roads to a spick and span city
Alappuzha is a famous coastal city in Kerala that attracts many tourists due to its natural beauty. However, until about five years ago, due to lack of awareness about proper management of solid waste, this city was dotted with mountains of garbage piling up. People walking on the roads had to cover their nose to avoid the putrid smell emanating from the heaped-up decomposing waste.
Soon, people’s patience weaned off and the enraged residents started an agitation. That is when then MLA and current finance minister Thomas Isaac and some civic officials sprung into action and framed a blueprint for a decentralized programme wherein households that generate biodegradable domestic waste will treat it in their own backyards.
They launched the campaign ‘Nirmala Bhavanam, Nirmala Nagaram’ (Clean House, Clean City) that met with resounding success. Every household went green by treating their waste through composting or biogas plant thus shifting the weight of waste management away from the shoulders of the municipality.
For any campaign to be successful, people should be made adequately aware. People involved in the campaign encouraged waste segregation at home. A group comprising of councillors and sanitation workers went door-to-door to educate people on the benefits of segregating wet waste from dry waste and plastic. They encouraged children to form Sanitation Clubs in schools. Children were encouraged to collect plastic in return for coupons that would get them books at select shops.
Next, families were offered two options for treating domestic wet waste: an aerobic pipe compost or a more-expensive portable biogas unit. Both options were available after a heavy subsidy which made them affordable to the residents. The wet waste, consisting of food leftovers and vegetable peels, is fed into the compost unit/biogas unit along with some water and cow-dung in liquid form. Officials say the waste takes about three months to get converted into organic manure which can subsequently be used in gardening. As of date, close to 3000 biogas units and nearly 2800 pipe compost units have been delivered to families who are now treating the wet waste at source and at the same time generating rich manure.
According to officials, eight kilograms of waste in a 1MQ biogas unit can produce about two hours of biogas, thereby serving as a healthier and cheaper alternative to the LPG. Many residents have therefore opted for the biogas unit.
Thus the wet waste is taken care of. Plastic waste, collected separately, is shredded into tiny pieces and mixed with tar for construction of roads. A team of Haritha Karma Sena (green volunteers) has also been formed in all the wards to give a thrust to the cleaning up process. There is a plan to impose a ban on plastic carry bags and residents are encouraged to use cloth bags.
All these initiatives have brought about a visible change in this dynamic city. It is important to sustain this mission. There have been reports of stray incidents of young boys on bikes throwing waste on road. To deal with this, CCTV cameras have been installed and offenders are heavily fined and advised to treat waste more responsibly.
Such constructive efforts have led to the transformation of Alappuzha into the cleanest city in India. A few days ago, it bagged a greater honour when the United Nations lauded its efforts and naming the city among five global destinations to successfully and sustainably manage solid waste.