Stench of decomposing waste, mounds of garbage with plastic and other wastes strewn all around - these are the things that come to one’s mind while visualising a garbage dump or recycling yard.
Instead, such a dumping yard with shade-giving trees on both sides of the entrance, crops of groundnut, spinach and sugarcane, clean areas for preparing compost, without stench too, might look unrealistic.
However, such a garbage yard for solid waste management or ‘Resource Recovery Park’ as it is called, does exist at T. Kallupatti town panchayat in Madurai district.
The efficient maintenance of this dump was one of the several factors that had enabled the town panchayat to receive ISO 9001: 2015 certification last month. The certification, awarded by a private accredited certification agency, Quest Certification, has made T. Kallupatti the first local body in Madurai district and one of the very few local bodies in Tamil Nadu to receive ISO certification.
“We were not aware of the ISO certification. Looking at our track record, the Directorate of Town Panchayats had suggested the certification agency to check if T. Kallupatti would be eligible for the certification,” said A. Kalaiarasi, Executive Officer of the town panchayat, who played an instrumental role in making the civic body eligible for the certification.
According to her, the certification process, which spanned nearly six months, began with discreet visits by teams from the certification agency to assess T. Kallupatti’s work in providing essential services and implementation of various schemes. “We did not know about their visits. They were directly interacting with the public,” she said.
The certification agency later made surprise visits to the town panchayat office to scrutinise maintenance of records, a crucial criterion for awarding ISO certification. The agency was pleasantly surprised by the transparent and precise maintenance of 63 types of registers, mandated by the Directorate of Town Panchayats.
“Wherever I worked, I had ensured proper maintenance of records. After completion of every financial year, ours will be the first local body to submit records for auditing to the Local Fund Audit office,” said Ms. Kalaiarasi, who has already received recognition from the government for her work as EO in T. Kallupatti and Alanganallur town panchayats.
The key areas on which the certification agency granted ISO certification to T. Kallupatti town panchayat included street light maintenance, water supply, dengue control, solid waste management, implementation of ‘House for All’ scheme and maintenance of bus stand.
Officials at the town panchayat said that the personnel from certification agency were particularly impressed by the focus given on solid waste management and dengue control, apart from comprehensive maintenance of records. “They liked the overall maintenance of the park and also the fact that we are selling every month around 300 kg of compost prepared from the waste collected from households,” said V. Muthazhagu, a sanitary supervisor. He also pointed to the new equipment procured for recycling plastic wastes.
Zero dengue cases
Highlighting that not a single case of dengue had been reported in the past couple of years in T. Kallupatti, Ms. Kalaiarasi attributed it to the continuous monitoring and awareness programmes. “All the households in the town panchayat are visited at least once a week by our conservancy workers to monitor whether there was stagnant water or anyone in the house was down with fever,” she said, showing the daily check lists maintained by the workers regarding the visits.
She added that the town panchayat office was also in close contact with the four hospitals and clinics in T. Kallupatti, including a primary health centre, to effectively monitor fever cases.
M. Manickam, whose tenure as the Chairman of T. Kallupatti town panchayat came to an end recently, said that the primary focus had been to redress grievances of the public at the earliest. “For instance, we have a dedicated wireman to repair any fault with the 462 street lights. We also ensure that there was no issue in the daily supply of water,” he said.
The public also appeared to vouch for the efficient functioning of the town panchayat. “The bus stand is cleaned at least thrice daily. The town panchayat has also installed drinking water facilities and ensured clean maintenance of toilets,” said R. Pichai Kaleeswaran, who runs a fruitshop inside the bus stand. Ms. Kalaiarasi said that the better work and recognition had enabled the town panchayat to get more works sanctioned for the public. “For instance, T. Kallupatti had been allocated 120 houses under the House for All scheme, which is the highest for any town panchayat in the State,” she said.
“The ISO certification is valid for three years and subject to periodic reviews. Now that we have reached this milestone, our aim will be to sustain this efficiency in the coming years,” she added.