The concept of ‘Garbage to Gold’ developed by waste management expert, Vellore Srinivasan converts garbage into a source of income, creating plenty of employment opportunities along the way. When implemented in Vandse Gram Panchayat (GP) of Udupi district in Karnataka, the strategy helped them win the war on waste, preventing trash being dumped into water bodies and landfills.
Background: Situated along the foothills of the Western Ghats, Vandse is home to 730 families and a population of 2751. About 120 shops and business outlets and houses are scattered along the hilly terrain.
Previously, waste posed a major challenge as people were in the habit of dumping it at street corners or used unscientific ways of disposal such as burning of plastic or throwing waste into the rivers surrounding the village. Pilgrims en route the Kollur Temple passed this way, which added to their woes.
When the District Administration decided to commence the waste management project in September 2017, under the guidance of Mr. Vellore Srinivasan, people of Vandse Gram Panchayat responded positively, eager to begin the SLRM pilot project.
Pilot projects were simultaneously started in three GPs: Vandse in Kundapur Block; Nitte GP in Karkal Block and Varamballi GP in Udupi Block.
Setting up of SLWM project: At the outset, Deputy Commissioner along with Mr. Vellore Srinivasan and other officials visited the village and inspected the abandoned and unused government buildings. They identified three such rundown buildings that could be used for the project.
The buildings selected were situated close to the school, Anganwadi and people’s homes, so that people would learn that SLRM centres do not emit bad smell or odour. Thereafter, the GP President and his team set up an administrative office, an SLRM unit, a warehouse, and a cowshed.
Awareness building activities for community: Alongside, information about organic farming, utilization of organic manure, setting up of terrace gardens and Cana Indica Plantation using liquid waste from the cowsheds was provided to the village community. The intention was to make Vandse a model village. All these activities were complemented through intensive IEC activities to help people understand the importance and benefits of the new system of waste management.
Waste segregation at source: Training was also provided on waste segregation, along with the distribution of Green and Red bins, an information calendar, handbills, Red, Green and Blue Sketch pens (to mark sanitary pads, non-vegetarian waste and medical waste such as medicine wrappers, bottles, syringes used in households, after wrapping in a newspaper) and a hair pouch.
Implementation of the project: Day one began with the collection of old garbage from all households and roadsides, after removing of roadside garbage bins. Every house had been provided with a green bucket to collect organic waste such as vegetable and fruit peels, rotten fruits, fish and meat waste, eggshells, etc. On the other hand, red buckets were meant to collect inorganic waste like plastic covers, glass pieces, cardboard, metal, wooden material, sanitary products, paper, etc. Each day, a team of 5 workers along with the help of a vehicle collected segregated waste from the households, shops, and business outlets.
Treatment of organic waste: The organic waste collected was further divided and what could be used as cattle feed was supplied to cattle twice a day. For this purpose, a cowshed was set up in the SLRM Centre. Alternatively, it was sent to a Goshala or nearby houses that owned cattle. The remaining organic waste was used in the compost bed to make manure. As for eggshells which are rich in Calcium, they were collected, converted into powder, and sold for use in the flowerpots and vegetable gardens. Waste flowers collected from the flower shops and marriage halls were sold to Rangoli powder manufacturers. While tender Coconut shells were used in the nursery to grow saplings or as firewood, Cana plants were cultivated using wastewater from the cowshed.
Treatment of inorganic waste: Inorganic waste from the red bucket was separated into bottle caps, bottles, bottle wrappers, paper, cardboard, metal, glass, etc., for sale at a value-added price. The money thus earned from selling reusable material was used to run the SLRM Centres.
SLRM Centres: Unused Panchayat and department buildings were given a facelift and used as SLRM centres. Management of such centres was handed over to Self Help Groups.
This service in due course was extended to nearby village panchayats. The entire process of waste segregation is regularly cross-checked by supervisors. As far as the community is concerned, they are happy with the cleanliness of their village.