Garbage removal is a daunting task for Tiruchi Corporation, especially with regard to the temple town of Srirangam.102 tonnes of garbage is generated in Srirangam, Tiruvanaikovil
Despite being one of the biggest pilgrim centres in the country and the constituency of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with the earnest attempt of the local body, garbage is ubiquitous.
The island town running to a length of 31 km with a width of 2.4 km has about one lakh population. The population from various parts of the country, which starts trickling in the early hours of the morning till 9 p.m., is phenomenal. It has been estimated that the population per day is 15,000 and on festival days such as Vaikunta Ekadasi, it could be as high as three to five lakh.
While there has been a rapid increase in population of the town in the past 10 years, it has seen a mushrooming growth of apartments thus demanding more attention in terms of water and garbage disposal.
Sanitation activists, who requested anonymity, termed Srirangam the ‘headquarters of apartment culture’ of Tiruchi district.
Hundreds of retirees from the metropolitan cities, especially Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, have chosen to make Srirangam their abode at the twilight of their life. As most of them have been accustomed to flat culture, apartments got a boost. Their advent has impacted the price of land and also that of flats.
“This was a town of only two temples, groves and greenery and water everywhere. It is gradually evolving into a concrete jungle,” the activists lamented. Now, Tiruchi, Srirangam, and Golden Rock municipalities and a few village panchayats have become part of Tiruchi Corporation which has to bear the entire burden of attending to all of them. “Most of these areas which had amenities of only village panchayats have been added to the corporation with the same infrastructure,” they pointed out.
But a lot of apartment complexes, educational institutions, including colleges, are new addition to Srirangam.
The crux of the issue is segregation of waste at source, as bio-degradable and non-biodegradable, which is not done anywhere in Tiruchi Corporation. Activists plead that segregation should be positively done at least at the collection point as most of the households, including that of literate ones, do not bother to do so.
While the bio-gradable waste could be converted into manure, non-biodegradable, especially plastics, could fetch considerable revenue to the civic body, they added.
“Of course, what is imperative is to educate the public, create awareness and provide them cloth or paper bags thus weaning them away from plastic bags,” they contended.
The activists suggested that source segregation be introduced at least in two ‘cooperating’ apartment complexes as a sort of a ‘pilot project’ which could be replicated in due course. If source segregation could be streamlined, the ban on plastics could be imposed in full measure as done in Kanyakumari district.
According to official sources, who do not want to be identified, Tiruchi Corporation generates 430 tonnes of garbage a day and the contribution of Srirangam and Tiruvanaikovil is 102 tonnes. While 45 per cent of the waste is bio-degradable, the rest is non-biodegradable despite the ban on plastics which the authorities are struggling to implement properly thanks to the phenomenal floating population.
“On the lines of Chennai Corporation we are planning to produce manure from the bio-degradable waste and even make pellets. We want to call in tenders as a number of private players are in the field.”