As the problem of waste accumulation reaches threatening proportions across the country, there is an urgent need for effective waste management systems that are region specific to include collection, transportation, dumping, recycling, and sewage treatment among others.
On its part, the Government Senior Secondary School, in Makha village of East Sikkim has introduced the concept of ‘virtual municipality’ under the banner of ‘Hariyo Makha – Sikkim against Pollution.’ The unique initiative is a part of the Eco-Club of the school.
In the absence of a municipality, the rural school has been experimenting with the idea of ‘Virtual Municipality’ under which around 70-80% of solid waste generated at Makha is collected and sent to recycling units.
The driving force behind the idea are students who take great pleasure in collecting waste material from the village and bring it to their school. In the store room of the school, waste is segregated and categorized into plastic, paper and metal.
Termed as the “Golden Rupee initiative”, all of the scraps are then donated to a scrap vendor for a “Value Price” of just one rupee- hence the name Golden Rupee!
With the active support from the Panchayats, SMCs (School Management Committees), BDO (Block Development Officer) and local intellectuals the idea has gone viral and the public are seen donating their solid waste to students. The Hariyo Makha initiative also receives suggestions from the Sikkim Pollution Control Board from time to time. Very recently the school donated around 114 kg of scraps to a local vendor from Singtam. The school has adopted a fixed scrap collection centre at Singtam as its environmental partner. So far more than 400 kg of scraps have been collected and donated by the school.
The students studying at Makha come from 3 GPUs (gram panchayat units) and 8 wards and hence they cover a large village area with a population of more than 2000. Still in its primary stage, the idea is struggling for suggestions and support from other people of the state.
By Lomas Dhungel, school teacher, Makha village, East Sikkim