When many residential areas in the city are struggling to cope with the garbage crisis that has gripped the city ever since the Vilappilsala plant stopped operations, the Sudarsan Nagar Residents Association at Poojappura has put in place an at-source waste treatment system which has stood it in good stead over the past few weeks.
In last December when the Vilappilsala plant shut shop, the association office-bearers put their heads together to try and find out a solution to the garbage problems of the 45-odd houses under the association.
“Some months ago we were facing a huge garbage crisis. The garbage from our homes used to be collected by the Kudaumbasree workers and often the bags would be heaped in some corner or the other. Dogs used to come and tear the bags and strew the waste all over the place,” association president Appukkuttan Kollasseri said. That was when the association started installing pipes for composting household waste.
Soon after the pipes were installed in 2011, however, many households started complaining of a bad odour and of a profusion of worms in and around the pipes containing the waste. Sensing that these problems threatened to derail the at-source initiative, the association cast its net about, trying to find a solution to the odour and worm problems.
“It was then that we learnt about a Kolkata-based company which manufactured an Effective Micro-organism (EM) solution. We found out that the company had a dealer in Kochi and we bought the solution from him,” Mr. Kollasseri explained.
One bottle of the solution costing less than Rs.400 was found to serve the needs of 20 households for 50 days. Using salt-less jaggery and water, the association office-bearers themselves cultured the living organisms in the solution and transferred the cultured product to one-litre bottles sourced from the individual houses. The effective cost per house was Rs.20 a month.
According to Mr. Kollasseri, the association had concrete pipes specially fabricated for installation in individual houses. These pipes had a broad base to prevent them from toppling over. Wherever needed, special concrete rings were crafted to contain additional waste.
One such ring was also installed in the residence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy which comes under the association. The cost of installing one pipe works out to less than Rs.2,000.
Once the EM solution was used, the odour from all the pipes disappeared and there was a significant reduction in the quantity of worms. Moreover, the association has now promised its members, who are also into group-farming of vegetables, that they would soon be given the compost residue from the pipes installed in the houses. Each household has been told to compulsorily segregate plastic waste and degradable waste before depositing the latter into the compost pipes.