Launch of source-level waste disposal scheme on November 15

Kudumbasree Clean Well workers involved in the Capital City Clean City project will be redeployed as health and sanitation workers in the decentralised source-level solid-waste management project to be launched by the city Corporation this month.

Mayor K. Chandrika told The Hindu here that Kudumbasree workers would be elevated from their role as garbage collectors to health and sanitation workers and provided training to assist people in managing household-level waste-processing units to be installed under the new scheme.

“These women who play a significant role in keeping our city clean are looked down upon by many as garbage collectors. Even though their absence for a day will throw things into disarray, the workers do not get their due and face a lot of problems,” Ms. Chandrika said.

Under the project, each beneficiary household can choose from three kinds of waste-processing units — biogas plants, vermin composts, and ring composts. All the three required regular maintenance of varying degrees. All these units would only process bio-degradable waste and plastics and other non-biodegradable wastes would have to be segregated. The manure produced from these units could be used by the household or sold.

“This means one might need to spend some time on these units each day. For those who do not have time, Kudumbasree workers would take care of these units. They will keep these waste processing units clean and work in the garden, look out for mosquito breeding spots around the house and generally work as health and sanitation workers. They will charge a nominal amount from the beneficiaries,” Ms. Chandrika said.

People had started coming forward to be part of the project. A first-of-its-kind initiative in the State, the scheme would be piloted at Muttada, the Mayor's ward. The project would be formally launched on November 15.

Asked about safety issues associated with installing biogas plants in houses the Mayor said accidents were rare. “If you think on those lines even liquefied petroleum gas can be dangerous. We cannot shelve an ambitious project on the basis of stray incidents,” she said.

The idea (household-level waste management) was mooted a couple of years ago. The implementation of the project had been expedited following the agitation of residents against the Corporation's solid waste treatment plant at Vilappilsala.

The agitators had threatened to block vans carrying garbage from the city to the treatment plant at Vilappilsala. The State government had intervened and the quantity of waste taken to the plant was brought down. The State government had also been thinking of taking steps to bring down pollution caused by the plant.

“The Corporation's plant modernisation works, which includes construction of a leachate treatment plant and sanitary land fill, is progressing. Although we also heard about it the Corporation has not yet got any official communication from the government on any other technology to be introduced in Vilappilsala,” Ms. Chandrika said.

After the launch of the Rs.80-lakh pilot project at Muttada, the source-level waste management scheme would be extended to 15 other wards before the end of the financial year. “As of now we will accord priority to below-poverty line beneficiaries. We would like to extend the scheme to all wards, but funds are an issue. Since the District Planning Committee have not sanctioned any of our budget proposals, we are using money from Corporation's funds for the pilot project,” she said.

The Mayor said at least Rs.one crore would have to be spent in every ward for the successful implementation of the project.

“But what is most important for the success of the scheme is attitude of the people. They should realise that this scheme will help convert the garbage produced in every household into useful assets like biogas or compost. This scheme is the need of the hour,” the Mayor said adding that she would go in for a ring compost unit at her house.