Cleaning up the neighbourhood

I was delighted to find my neighbourhood in the news this week–especially because it was being highlighted for its initiative in segregating wet and dry waste. Funnily enough I had no idea about these people even though I’m in the loop in at least 3 different city-wide and ward-wide organisations related to this matter. But here’s the article in full because I cannot find the article on line any longer:

But a City suburb — Kalyan Nagar along Hebbal Ring Road — has shown the way as to how citizens’ initiative can nip a potential problem in the bud.

The Kalyan Nagar Residents Association (KRA) initiated door-to-door collection of segregated garbage to convert degradable waste into vermicompost, 15 years ago. The compost generated is used by the residents for gardening.

Once troubled by heaps of garbage, the area has now set an example for others by managing the waste it generates at the household level through a project funded by the Norwegian government.

With the assistance of 30 rag pickers, the residents have shown that segregation at source, coupled with better management, can help solve the problem.

Residents segregated the garbage generated at their homes into degradable and non-degradable waste, with the degradable waste being converted into compost at a processing site in the locality. Non-degradable waste, of the lesser quantity, is sent to the landfills.

Citizens’ will

“The model can be implemented elsewhere in the City, provided the residents are willing,” said George Varghese, a former member of the Centre for Environment Education (CEE), the organisation which initiated the programme in 1998.

Residents of the locality were handed over a layout by the BDA without a proper solid waste management system and they showed how people can change things for the good, with a bit of concern and initiative.

“Despite the layout being formed in 1985, it was handed over to the residents only by 2000. By then, the area had a serious garbage problem. That was when the BDA, along with CEE, started this project,” explained Subbaiah, president of KRA.

The segregation project was initiated on a pilot basis with CEE as the co-ordinating agency. Special training was given to rag pickers to convert the waste into compost with help from an expert from the University of Agriculture Sciences, Bangalore.

Now, rag pickers collect segregated waste (two tonnes) from more than 3,000 houses, with each household generating garbage between 500 gm to one kg every day. The degradable waste is composted, while recycleable waste like bottles and hard plastic are taken away by rag pickers to be sold to scrap dealers.

“We also pay them a salary of Rs 2,500 every month. For this, we collect Rs 25 from each household,” explained Subbaiah. To ensure the entire project runs smooth, the association has constituted a waste management committee, which meets every month to review and plan.

Problems faced by waste retrievers and complaints of residents (if garbage is not collected) are addressed here. A manager and four supervisors appointed by the association oversee the process.

According to George, 70 per cent of the waste generated in the locality is treated at the processing site. “Of the waste collected, 10-15 per cent is recyclable and the remaining is sent to the landfill.

Unused plastic, gutka covers, thin plastic, foiled paper, etc, are stored at the dry waste storage unit in the site before being sent to the landfill,” he said.

According to him, the BBMP vehicle need not come to the locality every day. “It is sufficient if it comes once or twice a week,” he said.

Case study

The place has become a case study for many schools, colleges and residents’ associations. Teams from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and other places visited Kalyan Nagar and duplicated its model of garbage disposal back home.

A team of experts from the World Health Organisation, which visited the processing site, has appreciated the effort.

The BBMP, which now advocates source-level segregation, has, however, turned a blind eye to the Kalyan Nagar residents’ efforts.

Their plea to at least provide the rag pickers daily minimum wages that it pays to the pourakarmikas has fallen on deaf ears.



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