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At last, compost yards come to life

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Full to the brim: Malliga Mohan, chairperson of Madambakkam town panchayat, at the compost yard where kitchen waste is converted into manure.
Full to the brim: Malliga Mohan, chairperson of Madambakkam town panchayat, at the compost yard where kitchen waste is converted into manure.

K.Manikandan

Madambakkam is the latest urban local body to go for composting

TAMBARAM: After remaining idle for a very long time, compost yards built in most of the town panchayats around Tambaram have started functioning.

Several lakhs were spent over the years on building sheds and creating facilities to convert kitchen waste into manure in the 13 urban local bodies of Kancheepuram district that come within the Chennai Metropolitan Area.

Following the creation of an agenda for town panchayats for implementing sound solid waste management practices recently, the compost sheds were revived. Now, they are filled to the brim, kitchen waste is converted into manure, and the produce nearly ready to be sold in the market.

Madambakkam town panchayat, about 6 km from Tambaram, is the latest among these urban local bodies to go in for composting. Many pockets and public places in the town panchayat were an eyesore until a few months ago. “We reached out to residents of all 18 wards and today, we are collecting source segregated garbage from nearly half of the 6,000-odd houses in the town panchayat,” said Malliga Mohan, chairperson of the town panchayat.

The first batch of compost is expected to be ready in some days and arrangements were in place to pack and sell them. They were also planning to chart out effective policies to reduce the generation of plastic waste and recycle them, Ms. Malliga said. While the local body’s machinery has provided vehicles and some manpower too, voluntary organisation Exnora has its team of workers to segregate garbage and compost them.

“A nominal monthly amount is collected from house-owners and commercial establishments,” Ms. Malliga said, adding the initiative to compost was made possible only after awareness campaigns, including street plays by a professional group.

In addition to Madambakkam, other town panchayats, including Sholinganallur, Perungudi, Perungalathur, Sembakkam, Chitlapakkam and Kunrathur, have embarked on massive projects on this front. The town panchayats are all being assisted by voluntary organisations. The town panchayats, however, lack corporate sponsorship unlike the one available for Pammal Municipality’s Zero Waste Centre — from Pepsico.

Officials said they were evaluating the possibility of approaching private firms to provide funding for such projects as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. Even if companies did not adopt an entire zero waste centre, funding a portion of it would benefit town panchayats immensely, they said, adding the revival of compost yards had brought about a visible improvement, officials said, while acknowledging that more needed to be done.

Members of Exnora Innovators Club in Madambakkam and Sembakkam pointed out that proliferation of supermarkets in the suburbs was an important reason for the phenomenal rise in plastic waste as even small quantities of groceries were packed in polythene bags.

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