No door-to-door collection by official workers, instead the people of Athappagoundur dispose off their own waste.

This TN panchayat is now green and nearly garbage-free thanks to its residents
news Civic issues Monday, July 24, 2017 - 19:54
Written by  Pheba Mathew

It’s easy to pin the blame on government officials when garbage piles up for days in our neighbourhood without being attended to. But here’s a panchayat in Coimbatore, where residents have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that their neighbourhoods are garbage free.

Tired of seeing garbage strewn on the streets, residents of Athappagoundur panchayat in Coimbatore decided to take up the task of disposing off their trash five years ago.  “There was always a foul smell on the streets due to piled-up garbage everywhere. Then we decided to clean up the garbage and start planting trees. Now, the panchayat is 80% garbage free zone. Except for two areas, there is no garbage anywhere,” says Shanmugam, a businessman.

Unlike other panchayats, Athappagoundur does not depend on workers for the door-to-door collection of waste. Instead, Shanmugam explains, “People collect garbage from their houses and put it in dustbins. From there about 10 of us take it and give it to the panchayat. No one leaves garbage on the roads now.”

This apart, the 2000-odd residents of this panchayat have also taken to tree planting for every happy occasion. From weddings and the birth of a child to even buying a vehicle or a house, people celebrate their joy by planting a tree.

In the last five years, around 4500 trees have been planted. “Trees include banyan, fig and neem. It is planted on government land. The panchayat supported us in all our initiatives. We have hired a person to make sure that the trees are watered and it is well-maintained. There is also a garden that we have made,” says Shanmugam proudly.

Around 20 residents devote an hour every day and four hours on Sunday to tend to the trees, and ensure that the area is well-maintained and clean.

Their efforts, however, have paid dividend for the community as a whole. “We have different birds coming to our area, the climate has become much better, our area is 80% garbage free and most importantly, there is unity among us,” says Shanmugam.

But that’s not all, Athappagoundur residents have also built 12 public toilets for the community after getting funding from the Rotary Club.

Next on the list of initiatives, Shanmugam says, is to get funding to help purify the groundwater before it reaches the houses.