With increase in generation of solid waste including plastics, management of the same is a huge challenge in both rural and urban areas of the country. To address this, the district administration of Peddapalli in Telangana has embarked on an initiative called Swaccha Shukravaram or Clean Friday and Panchasutralu (5 principles of waste segregation), both outreach programmes to carry out swachhata activities in all the villages.
Swaccha Shukravaram: Over the last 10 months, under this programme, swachhata activities were carried out in all village and municipal areas every Friday. All officials, irrespective of rank and department participated in shramdaan when they collected plastic waste, segregated the same, disposed it into either dumping yards or compost pits; thereby sensitizing and motivating people through a participatory approach to achieve and maintain high standards of sanitation in the district.
In addition, the District Collector along with public representatives, from MLAs to Sarpanches and the public took up plogging extensively, every Friday. This has led to awakening of the conscience towards sanitation and cleanliness among the public, bringing about a perceptible behavioral change.
Resolutions banning SUPs: Sarpanches and Gram Panchayats (GPs) were motivated to pass resolutions to ban Single Use Plastics (SUPs). While all GPs did so, some even bought alternatives such as steel plates, glasses and cups and offered the same to the communities to use for functions, free of cost. Rallies, group discussions among SHG members, formation of human chains and special awareness camps in schools and colleges were conducted. While students were motivated to bring only steel water bottles, offices in the district have completely done away with plastic water bottles. Also, roadside eateries now have signs saying, ‘bring your own steel utensils for parcel service’.
Eco-friendly alternatives for plastics: With a loan of Rs. 47.50 lakhs, facilitated by the district administration, a 20-member Self Help Group (SHG) began production of eco- friendly bags, as an alternative to SUP bags. They were assisted by the Industries Department which trained and helped them procure the requisite machinery and raw material. Presently the unit is supplying 20 different sizes of non-woven bags with varying thickness, as required by customers under the brand name ‘SwachhaPeddapalli.’ Households also use them for collection of segregated dry waste.
Sabala sanitary napkins: To promote menstrual hygiene among women, the district administration assisted yet another SHG with a loan of Rs. 45 lakhs to manufacture quality sanitary napkins with wings using plastic-free biodegradable material under the brand name ‘Sabala.’ The products are delivered at the doorstep of every household in the villages.
Liquid waste management: Earlier, with the construction of about one lakh soak pits under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, every household in all the 263 villages was covered; and its liquid waste taken care of. In fact, the district is considered the first Open Drain Free district in the country. This effectively put an end to mosquito breeding grounds, bringing about a 65% decrease in incidence of Dengue, compared to the previous year (2018).
Panchasutralu: With the segregation of waste, at the heart of the programme, Panchasutralu is a waste management concept comprising five principles.
- Every household will have a toilet and every village will have a community toilet which will be functional and clean.
- Every household will have a soakpit (for liquid waste management) and a compost pit (for wet waste management)
- Every house will take up dry waste segregation in 4 categories: plastic, glass, paper and metal which will be collected and disposed appropriately by the GP
- Every house will have a kitchen garden with leafy and other vegetables along with 6 fruit bearing plants which will be supplied to them under Haritha Haaram (greening and afforestation) programme. The organic manure generated from the compost pit in the house would be used for the kitchen garden.
- Every woman of menstruating age would use the district brand of Sabala sanitary napkins (quality, biodegradable, plastic free product, facilitated by the administration, and manufactured by SHG women)
The Panchasutras were formulated to make every village, a ‘no-waste village,’ with the slogan Swacchatha Nundi Swasthatha Varaku (from cleanliness to good health). Segregation of waste is the core activity of the Panchasutras. Once a household is compliant with the Panchasutras, a badge of honor is affixed on the door of the house. The activity has created healthy competition among people to get such a badge.
One Sakhi for every 20 households: To inculcate the habit of segregation of wet and dry waste and monitor the same at the household level, one SHG woman named ‘SAKHI’, has been appointed for every 20 households in the district. They teach households, how to segregate waste and make compost out of wet waste.
SWM Plan in every village: Every village has a Solid Waste Management Plan, which covers the principles of Panchasuthras while the local self government handles collection and disposal. SHGs play an active role in monitoring and sustaining of household segregation, making it a completely independent and sustainable system of SWM with public participation.