NGO helping them in waste management pulls out

Four town panchayats around Tambaram have taken upon themselves the responsibility of primary garbage collection and disposal after a non-governmental organisation that was assisting them in solid waste management project pulled out.

The elected council and administration started engaging women self-help groups apart from using its own staff for collection of garbage from households, roadsides, shops and commercial establishments and transfer to compost sheds located in their respective dumps.

According to engineers of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply, the NGO pulled out of Sembakkam, Tiruneermalai, Peerkankaranai and Guduvanchery town panchayats. According to them, “green friends” or street beautifiers engaged by the NGO were harassed and intimidated by a couple of elected representatives in Sembakkam Town Panchayat on a daily basis. In Peerkankaranai and Guduvanchery, the problem was due to the collapse of compost shed at the dump and it was no longer possible to convert kitchen waste into manure through vermicomposting. In Tiruneermalai, there was stiff opposition from elected representatives and local groups to bring people from elsewhere.

Sources in the department said the respective urban local body would collect Rs. 20 a month as user charge from households and shops. The amount would go to the NGO for their operational charges which included vehicle maintenance and staff salary. If the collected user charges were not enough, the town panchayat administration would bear the rest. Sources in the department said that one of the town panchayats owed around Rs. 3 lakh to the NGO, another important reason for them to pull out as financially it was not viable for them. Sources added that despite the NGO pulling out, garbage collection and disposal would not be affected.

Women self-help groups were roped in to ensure that garbage did not remain anywhere. While agreeing that the new set of women members from SHGs would not be very proficient in source segregation and other issues related to solid waste management, the engineers said that in a couple of weeks, they would become skilled enough. Further, user charges were hiked marginally, for instance, from Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 a month, and hence householders would not feel the pinch. The State government and the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply would soon come forward with a foolproof system of solid waste management and composting for town panchayats and rural local bodies – village panchayats.

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