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`Home composting' is the norm in Moulivakkam panchayat

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LEADING BY EXAMPLE: A. Subhash, secretary of the Govindarajan Nagar Residents Welfare Association at Moulivakkam near Porur working at the common compost pit of their locality. Photo : A. Muralitharan
LEADING BY EXAMPLE: A. Subhash, secretary of the Govindarajan Nagar Residents Welfare Association at Moulivakkam near Porur working at the common compost pit of their locality. Photo : A. Muralitharan

K. Manikandan

Kitchen waste converted into manure

TAMBARAM: It is in initiative that holds lessons for local bodies, including those in Chennai, where administrators and politicians talk about solid waste management, but do precious little in reality.

Of the 50-odd homes at Govindaraj Nagar in Moulivakkam Panchayat near Porur, a western suburb, `home composting' is the norm in almost all.

Just a few months ago, residents were dumping kitchen and plastic waste in vacant plots or burning them wherever they could. Families that were generating about a kilo of kitchen waste and other non-degradable waste a day, today dispose of only a handful of junk, mostly e-waste, batteries and similar stuff and that too at a common collection point.

This remarkable turnaround has come about in the short space of three or four months. Unbelievable as it may seem, even the slightest scrap of plastic or paper waste is picked up even by young schoolchildren and dumped in the common bin meant for residents of this locality. Pointing to a small pit inside her house, C. Preethi, a Plus Two student, said the daily kitchen waste was dumped in it and covered with a layer of mud. What explains this remarkable achievement? The story begins about two years ago when A. Subhash, former Director (Training) Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board moved into the locality.

Mr. Subhash, a Solid Waste Management specialist at the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration, said residents had to first get over the `NIMBY - Not In My BackYard' syndrome.

"People want their locality and house to be neat, but hesitate to dispose of garbage inside their house. But there are simple measures to convert kitchen waste into manure without causing inconvenience or creating bad odour," he pointed out.

Kitchen waste, including vegetable peelings and even paper could be converted into organic manure; all it required was only a small pit. In apartment complexes, where space and soil are scarce, flowerpots can be used. Every human being on an average produced about 200 to 500 grams of garbage a day, Mr. Subhash said, adding this could be brought down to only about 10 grams if `home composting' was undertaken.

And if less garbage is dumped, the less is the strain on natural resources like Pallikaranai, where civic authorities have been burning thousands of tonnes of garbage in the heart of the wetland. In Govindarajan Nagar, where Mr. Subhash is now secretary of the Residents' Welfare Association, the concept of home composting has really caught onIt is their hope that their experiments in converting kitchen waste into organic manure will be taken up by urban local bodies, elected representatives and the bureaucracy.

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