Thuvur, a rural village in Malappuram District of Kerala has become a perfect example for decentralised management of solid waste by strictly following and implementing the state’s waste management policy of source segregation, source level composting and handing over of clean and dry segregated waste to the Green Task Force, popularly known as Haritha Karma Sena (HKS) in Kerala.
HKS is an institutional mechanism to assist households, institutions, and the community to manage bio-waste at source and move the non-bio-waste to Material Collection Facilities (MCF). It is a small enterprise unit, formed and trained through the State Poverty Eradication Mission (known as Kudumbasree) and it sustains on user-fees collected for the services they provide.
Situated in Kalikavu Block, Thuvur Grama Panchayat (GP) consist of 17 wards, 6000 households, a population of 30,500 and 100 institutions which come under the purview of the Local Self Government Institutions’ (LSGI) jurisdiction. Agriculture is the main source of income for majority of people and almost 12 per cent of the population belong to the SC/ST community.
Challenge: Previously, packaging plastics, carry bags and pet bottles created numerous challenges for farmers and agriculture labourers in the absence of a system for handling plastic waste. It affected soil quality, productivity, and yield. Even though the quantity of plastic and other dry waste amounted to less than 20 per cent of the total waste generated, it needed to be segregated and disposed of properly. In search of an immediate intervention, the Panchayat administration approached Suchitwa Mission, the nodal agency of the State for sanitation and waste management.
Collection and segregation of waste: Thereafter, 15 members of the HKS were trained by the Panchayat with support from Suchitwa Mission and Harithakeralam Mission. They began door to door collection of dry waste from every household and institution and placed it in the temporary shed that functioned as an MCF. Non-biodegradable waste was collected and segregated into more than 40 items before being transported for Resource Recovery and recycling through a local scrap dealer.
Monetary gains: The door to door collection happens 4 times a year from the households at Rs. 30 per household and every month from institutions. The user-fee collected from institutions comes close to Rs.7500 per month at the rate of Rs.75 per month from 100 institutions. The average revenue from user-fee for a 3-month period comes to around Rs. 1.65 lakh. The HKS members have been earning Rs. 340/working day with an average of 10-12 working days per month.
It is estimated that more than 20 lakh plastic packaging covers and 15 tonnes of discarded glass bottles and broken glasses are sold from here which has generated a revenue of Rs.1.2 lakh so far from the sale of more than 40 items of segregated dry discards which otherwise can be called as raw-materials or resources for recycling.
Agreement with cement factory: Thuvur is the first LSGI in the state which has established an agreement with a cement factory (ACC) to clear out the rejects accumulated in their MCF for utilizing them as fuel through co-process in the cement factory. The task of making the rejects suitable for co-processing is not an easy one. It must be free from dirt, moisture, and metal particles. The HKS ensures that the material they hand over to ACC cement factory meets the stipulated standards. So far, the Panchayat has cleared more than 40 tonnes of rejects which includes resin bags, footwear, etc., handing them over to ACC for co-processing.
Thuvur is keen to engage in waste management services despite their resource crunch. The Panchayat believes that convincing people on the need and importance of proper waste management system and the benefits of having such system is important.