Making Ooty beautiful again

February 27, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 03:42 am IST

Five women are spearheading a campaign to clean up the Nilgiris and rid public spaces of garbage.

Shobana Chandrasekar, Sharon Isaiah, Sharmila Dharmapalan, Anita and Poojitha Daradahalli, the core members of the ‘Make Ooty Beautiful’ (MOB) project, have been taking on litterbugs, commercial establishments and even political parties in an effort to clean up the garbage-strewn streets of Udhagamandalam, bus shelters and other public spaces.

The project was started two years ago as a grass-roots movement to address the huge garbage management problem plaguing the Nilgiris. “Garbage in the Nilgiri biosphere will have a huge impact on local ecology, and cause widespread environment problems,” said Ms. Shobana.

The project was being assisted by the Udhagamandalam Municipality during their cleanliness drives. A pilot project to have a system in place for source segregation and door-to-door collection was also tested along Sheddon Road, with moderate success. “We used to educate people about the importance of source segregation, and some of the households still manage waste effectively,” said Sharmila Dharmapalan.

The women have faced threats due to their work. But they continue with their work undetered. “If anything, the experience has only made us more determined and more direct,” said Mrs. Sharmila.

The project has also begun working with hotels and restaurants and trying to get them to set up a compost yard on their own premises, while eliminating plastic waste going into landfills is another aspect of garbage management the group is working on.

“We are also educating and getting school children to volunteer during our cleanliness drives so that we can take our message to the next generation,” said Sharon Isaiah.

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