The Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin Campaign has triggered a massive people’s movement across the country. Aside from making their villages open defecation free (ODF) many concerned citizens are engaging in other activities that contribute to cleaning and greening of their habitations that would have immense bearing on health and well being of the communities.
One such example is that of Pragathi Nagar gram panchayat (GP) in Quthbullapur Mandal of Medchal District in Telangana. The GP which is home to more than 10,000 households was declared ODF on 16th March, 2017.
Close to its border but situated under Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation is a large natural lake. However, because it is contaminated with sewerage that is channeled into the lake and other garbage, it smells bad and is covered with horse shoe creepers which make it a breeding ground for mosquitoes. While some people regularly dumped garbage near the lake since it was already contaminated, a few others would urinate near the lake.
Recently, the Pragathi Nagar Development Committee along with other residents of the GP got together and decided to take matters into their own hands. Each of the residents donated Rs 500 per family and initiated the cleaning up of the lake by themselves rather than wait for help. With support and cooperation of GP leaders, the residents pulled out creepers and other garbage that was submerged in the lake.
To help with this, they purchased a special bucket-like-equipment that sifts through the water to remove garbage. Further, boards have been erected at various points with messages about environmental protection; and a fine has been imposed on anyone found dumping waste into or near the lake.
In addition, they have set up a sewage treatment plant (STP) and treated water from this is used in vegetable gardens and flowering plants in public places. Households that require such water for their kitchen gardens can request a connection for the same.
A dumping yard has been set up and compost made at the unit is sold to residents at Rs 4 per kg. As far as non-biodegradable materials are concerned, plastic below 50 microns has been banned. Waste segregation is done at household level while the GP has organized collection of wet and dry waste separately.
Significantly, cigarettes, Gutkha and other tobacco products and even aerated drinks are not sold in the GP. Cutting of trees is not allowed and those found violating the rule will have to pay a penalty. Similarly, anyone found urinating in any part of the GP will be fined; and if it is a government servant, he would be charged extra for negligence.
As many as 300 rain water harvesting pits have been set up in the GP and roof top water is harvested though pipes and bore wells. While all the 3 parks in the area – Ambedkar, Nehru an NTR parks are well maintained, begging is not allowed. Importance is given to greenery and each household has 2 trees planted in front of their homes. The GP members are proud that literacy rate in the village is almost 100%.
Further, to ensure that cleanliness of the lake is sustained, the villagers have decided to continue cleaning the lake on a regular basis to remove creepers, etc., until the government’s ban on sewage being discharged into the lake is effectively enforced. This has certainly transformed the lake.
For all their efforts, the Integrated Quality Certification Private Limited has awarded the GP of Pragathi Nagar a Certificate of Compliance for conforming to the quality management system ISO 9001:2008.
(Inputs from ZSBP – Medchal District)