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Pipe composting project pips odds, scripts success

Shyama Rajagopal
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Residents’ association scripts success in organic waste management using pipe composting

A pipe composting unit.— Photo: K.K. Mustafah
A pipe composting unit.— Photo: K.K. Mustafah

The Koonamthai Pathadipalam Residents’ Association has scripted success in organic waste management by using the simple pipe composting method.

Unlike bitter experiences in some other places where residents dither to go to their backyards because of smelly pipes, residents in this area in the Kalamassery municipality have found a solution to manage their waste.

What began as an experiment in the backyards of the association’s office bearers was later followed up by other residents.

Of the 202 members in the association, 140 have adopted the method and the two-year effort has yielded positive results. Mohammed Ali, a resident, who has been using the pipes to dispose organic waste for about a year-and-a-half, said the method was easy and cost-effective. The users had to incur only the cost of the pipes.

The association members have been prompt in clearing our doubts, said Mr. Ali, who enthusiastically showed the pipes at his residence.

Jessy and Antony, whose house stands in just about a cent of land, are also happy with the experiment. The manure produced was given to those members of the association who need it, said Jessy.

A. K. Nazar, who runs a godown on the ground floor of a building and stays on the upper floor, has installed the pipes on a small patch in his land. “It’s nine months since I started using it, and the first pipe has not been filled yet. This has been a big relief for us especially since the municipality stopped collecting waste”, he said.

People need to follow the instructions, said P. Vamadevan, secretary of the association. Waste materials such as coconut shells, egg shells, and peels of orange and lemon should be avoided.

Strong pipes with 4mm thickness were used so it does not break easily. The length of the pipe was 1.5 metres with a 10-inch wide mouth. It was long and wide enough to hold waste for months together, he added. The pipes are stuck in a foot-deep trench. It should never be covered tightly. Air circulation is necessary for turning the waste into manure that can be taken out by pulling the pipe out of the trench and pushing out the contents. To keep rats away from the pipe, granite stones can be spread around the pipe.

There was no need to use any bacterial solution, though it would help speed up the process, said Mr. Vamadevan. The stink emanated when the process of decomposition did not happen properly, he added. Without any subsidy support from the municipality, the residents’ association had gone ahead with the programme and it meant a huge relief for the local body, said M. S. Simon, ward councillor and standing committee chairman for health in the municipal council.

The cost of the pipes was Rs. 1,500 initially but it had risen to Rs. 1,750. “Our method is being adopted by people in other residential areas too. We provide them will all details. A small notice was issued to educate residents on how the system worked”, said Mr. Vamadevan.

Practices by some others using the same system may have failed because they had not properly followed the guidelines. Giving residents two pipes without any follow-up programme to troubleshoot their problems would not give the best results, he added.

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