Neighbouring town segregates waste at source with a sense of pride

The idea of segregation is so ingrained in flower seller Shivappa M. of Moodbidri that it is now a matter of pride for the town. “The change has been drastic. Before, I would throw the waste into an overflowing stinking municipal bin. Now, it is collected from my shop daily,” he said. While he pays Rs. 50 monthly for the collections, hotels pay Rs. 1,500.

And, not surprisingly, the market in Moodbidri stands apart from the ones in Mangalore or Udupi – it has no mounting garbage in or outside the market. No bins overflow, no vegetable waste thrown into the corner.

Though incomparable in size with the larger towns and cities – Moodbidri has a population of 29,446 and around 9,440 houses – there are lessons from the scarcely-funded, resource-starved town municipal council (TMC) that could be replicated for waste management success.

Around 10 tonnes of waste is generated daily, and TMC Chief Officer Rayappa says nearly 7 tonnes of organic waste is converted into compost. The recyclable part of the remaining 3 tonnes of dry waste is sold monthly by the TMC for nearly Rs. 5,000 per load, or given to civic workers as incentive for segregation.

Ultimately, only a marginal quantity of unusable waste goes to the landfill, he said.

Since the decision to start door-to-door collection and segregation in August 2011, the council has taken a methodical approach that involves awareness campaigns over a year involving all stakeholders. Even now, boards extolling segregation greet the visitor, and garbage vehicles play their message daily through speakers.

Uphill journey

While the system has stabilised, it hasn’t been easy sailing for the self-help group involved. Pushpa Bhandary, president of the group, said until a few months ago, the group incurred monthly loss of Rs. 20,000 after paying overheads on three vehicles and 14 workers. “We wanted to quit this project. If not for the support of officials, we would have left,” she said.

A persistent campaign by Mr. Rayappa and health officers, who accompanied trucks, changed this. They started slapping penalties on erring residents, and gradually, the profits have started trickling in.

The TMC collects nearly Rs. 5,000 monthly in fines. Naveen Kumar, a supervisor of a flat, said the shock of receiving a Rs. 10,000 fine notice ensured the residents there did not handout mixed garbage.

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