Kerala

Clearing garbage from tricky territory

One side of the Kottayam-Kattappana State Highway here is quite steep and it has become a dumping yard for garbage, including biodegradable waste generated in the entire town, over the years.

It created a health issue as the waste reached the Elappara river, a tributary of the Periyar, the main source of drinking water for the High Range.

Now, the scenario has seen a positive change with tribespeople collecting waste from the deep gorge after descending there using ropes. They were working here for three days after cleaning the Elappara river and Mathayikokka, the other areas where waste is dumped.

Tribespeople from the Valayar forest settlement are experts in negotiating steep areas. They have collected waste in five districts over the past two years under a non-governmental organisation of ex-servicemen. Tonnes of waste collected are segregated and moved to treatment plants. “Everything is sold at a price and the waste is collected under government-approved norms,” said Varghese Thomas, an ex-serviceman.

He said the work at the grama panchayat was under the Elappara Green Grass Project and they were now concentrating in Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts.

The government plans to expand the project in the entire State. In five districts, the waste was collected under the Vazhiyoram scheme. Garbage in the forests on the Neryamangalam-Munnar stretch was also cleared.

60 members

Nearly 60 members of the Muthuvan community, including women, from Valara are engaged in the initiative. Omana, Moly, Vilasini, Deepa, and Thankamma are the women. They devise their own strategies and are provided masks, gloves, and shoes. Radhakrishnan, a member of the group, said they collected honey and other forest items when there was no work.

P.J. Melvin, who had taken up the garbage menace with government departments, said it was an enormous task to clear the area. Steps to prevent further dumping of waste should be taken, he added.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 7:23:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/clearing-garbage-from-tricky-territory/article30873805.ece

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