SWM systems in place in Punjab’s Nimbua village

“I can assure you that no traces of waste polythene can be found around the village or near any of the households.  The community members of Nimbua village in SAS Nagar District of Punjab have been collectively trying to create the best out of waste and manage it effectively,” said, Raghubir Singh, Sarpanch Nimbua, SAS Nagar.

Adhering to guidelines of Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen, Nimbua which had earlier achieved ODF status is forging ahead with the SBM-G Phase II objectives and aims to segregate and manage its solid and liquid waste.  The village consisting of 200 households and a population of 1000 individuals had set up a SWM project on December 16, 2020.

Setting up of SWM project:  After attaining Open Defecation Free status, the Panchayat members turned to waste management.  They realised that cleanliness of the village depended upon the segregation and management of various forms of waste.  The Panchayati Raj Department in collaboration with the Round Glass Foundation set up a SWM project. 

Proper research was done ahead of beginning operations, to understand the community behaviour, needs and waste mechanisms. Thereafter, site inspection and construction of plant were initiated with the support of MGNREGA and Panchayats Funds.

The estimated cost of the plant was Rs. 3 lakhs with the Panchayat having to contribute Rs.25,000 as a token amount while the remaining was invested through MGNREGA funds. This had generated employment for both unskilled and skilled labourers as under MGNREGA skilled labourers (masons) are entitled of Rs. 340 and unskilled labourers Rs. 263 per day. 

Technique and Dimensions:  Having selected the pit composting method for management of solid waste, 3 pits were constructed, each measuring 5 feet width X 10 feet length and 3.5 feet deep, covering an areas of 1350 sq.ft. covered with a shelter.  It is maintained well and painted with key messages about hygiene and sanitation.  Situated on the edge of the village, it is managed well, causing no odour or disturbance to the residents.

Caretakers and carriers:  As a complete waste segregation and disposal unit there are 3 dedicated people in the village who have taken responsibility of collecting waste. While the plant was setup, the people were exposed to understanding the concept of waste, the importance of segregation and the difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.   These awareness sessions were conducted by the Committee members and Round glass Foundation.

Thereafter, two women from the community volunteered to take on the role of waste collection from households for some monetary benefit.

“There’s nothing better than serving my village community while earning from it”, said Karam Kaur who is currently one of the waste collectors.

The women have been provided a dedicated vehicle to collect waste.  While one rides the vehicle, the other two collect and segregate waste before dumping the same in the shed daily.

Turning waste to wealth:   Approximately 50 kgs of solid waste is generated per month in the village.  Source segregation of dry waste has already begun at household level with residents placing dry waste in blue dustbins and wet waste in green dustbins. The dry waste is segregated by the waste collector and then sold to kabadiwalas at Rs 5/kg.  On the other hand, the wet waste is collected and goes directly to the dumping site in the SWM plant where it is treated with water and gobar. The gobar is spread over the waste in layers and it is churned at different intervals. In 40-60 days the layered waste is converted into compost and either used for plantation or sold as an organic food for plants.

Self-sustaining SWM unit: To ensure sustainability of the mechanism, each household contributes Rs. 40 to the waste collector.  The amount received from households and selling biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste is used for operation and maintenance of the plant and to pay the monthly wage of the waste collectors.

Waste Carriers share their journey:

Karam Kaur:  Being a woman accustomed to household chores, cleanliness has always been of prime importance to me.  Serving my village and community now and contributing to its upkeep gives me a lot of satisfaction. I start my day at 7.30 AM and collecting waste from each household is a part of my routine. When I see the waste in blue and green dustbins, already segregated and notice that dry waste has reduced over the past few months, I feel that change is happening.  Earlier, when we used to segregate dry waste after collection, it took 3-4 hours to segregate the same.  But now, as the community is more aware, it has reduced our work and saves my energy too.

Savitri Devi- Waste Collector: Karam and I have divided our work.  We both start collecting waste from different ends of the village and it takes almost 4- hours to collect waste from all households and then segregate it. Post segregation we dump the wet waste into pit. Once the pit is 80% filled, it is layered with water and gobar and left undisturbed for few days. Later, we churn the entire mixture and add more water and cow dung and wait until it turns into compost. I am personally thankful to our Sarpanch who has supported us with a vehicle and a dedicated person who rides it, along with a medical kit and gloves for our safety. Out of 200 households, 92 per cent pay us on time.  I am quite sure that the rest of the community will do likewise once they notice improvement in the village in terms of waste management.

Inputs:  Sh. Raghubir Singh, Sarpanch Village Nimbua and Ms. Aalia Ali, Governance Fellow SBM (G) Punjab

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