Alappuzha in Kerala is one of the three cleanest cities in India, as per the latest rating by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
"Alappuzha, Panaji and Mysuru are three of the cleanest cities in India, with municipal waste management systems that actually work," a latest rating by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
Speaking to The News Minute, Thomas Joseph -Alappuzha Municipal Corporation Chairman- says: “Five years ago, like any other Corporation and Municipality in Kerala, we too followed a door-to-door collection method of decomposable waste which we would transport to a treatment plant owned by the Alappuzha Municipality. We had almost 19 acres of land at our disposal, but as in other cities, it too turned out to be a disaster.”
According to him, the grant received for waste treatment from the state government seemed a futile exercise with the failure of the said project.
That is when the Municipal Corporation decided to adopt a proactive approach and came up with a list of initiatives to deal with this pressing civic issue on a practical level:
- Door-to-door collection of waste was stopped. Instead, officials sought to create awareness among the public about the impracticality and harmful effects of accumulating waste.
- Set up four aerobic compost plants where people could directly deposit decomposable kitchen waste that got converted into organic fertilizers which was then distributed to the public free of cost initially. Now, there are plans to sell the same at subsidiary rates.
- Almost 8500 biogas plants were installed in various houses. Earlier too, installation constituted the easy part, but subsequent maintenance always suffered. This time however maintenance was taken care of by the Municipality for the past four years.
The plants provide enough fuel for at least four hours of cooking. So residents take pains to collect waste even from neighbours, as they find it profitable for themselves.
- Pipe compost technology too was initiated wherein pipes were installed in which waste was filled and later converted to vermi-compost -an excellent fertilizer- which could be used in both the kitchen garden and the field.
- Plastic waste is collected once in two months and later transferred to a group called Clean Kerala Mission which treats plastic waste, by making it reusable or use it in tarring of the roads.
- Ten percent of the budget is allocated for waste management and has now proved profitable than similar projects undertaken in the past.
Joseph however is quick to admit that the city has achieved only 70% of what they have in mind for this ‘Venice of the East’ and that they have a long way to go to ensure that a comprehensive waste management remains in place on a permanent basis.
“There are few people who still persist in littering the roads, despite strict laws in place. That is our next area of focus,” he reiterates.