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SolidWaste-CaseStudy

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					                                                                                   Case Study IIR 2007



Practising zero waste management in Vellore, Tamil Nadu
Author: P Amudha
Urbanisation brings prosperity but at the same time creates environmental problems like
pollution, accumulation of solid waste and poor sanitation. Use of tetrapacks, plastic plates, cups
and bags, tin cans and similar throw-away items has increased in the last decade as has the
amount of organic waste. In many Indian states, rural areas are fast catching up with urban areas
in generating solid waste. Lack of proper waste collection, segregation and management systems
and poor sanitary conditions in both urban and rural areas are aggravating health problems. In
this context, solid waste management is an area of challenge and of innovation for urban
planners and city corporations. Small and big pilots, with different degrees of sustainability and
success, are operational in many parts of the country. A zero waste management (ZWM) project
by NGO Exnora Green Cross and the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), initially
piloted with UNICEF, in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district is an example of a successful solid waste
management programme and its benefits.

ZWM is a system of managing solid wastes that strives for maximum waste recovery through
recycling and reuse, aiming at zero waste generation.
     The system’s strength lies in segregation of waste at the source leading to maximum
        recovery of resources, minimization of waste and reduction in area required for storing
        and composting.
     It minimizes pollution of ground water and air by doing away with disposal of wastes at
        dumpsites and landfills.
     Zero waste management integrates the informal recycling sector (ragpickers and waste
        collectors) into the solid waste management system providing opportunities for income
        generation.

Exnora Green Cross, supported by UNICEF, initiated a pilot project on solid waste management
in a ward of Vellore municipality in 2000. The project was then piloted in rural areas of
Kaniyampadi block under the Total Sanitation Campaign in 2002. The aim of the project, carried
out in four villages (Palavanchattu, Selamanatham, Virupakshipuram, Kammavanpet and
Virupakshipuram), was:
     to create awareness among people about environment-friendly waste management
       promoting source segregation and recycling;
     organise local communities and decentralize solid waste management through people’s
       participation;
     generate wealth from waste through micro-enterprise opportunities for rural youth.

Exnora Green Cross provided technical inputs and guided implementation of the project along
with local resident associations and self help groups (SHGs). The DRDA provided funds for
construction of sheds, purchase of tricycles and tools and ensured the support of local bodies. A
project team comprising a coordinator, supervisors and street beautifiers was formed for each
village Panchayat. A public meeting was organized for the village residents and shopkeepers to
explain the concept of zero waste management and how to differentiate waste for segregation.
Pamphlets and video shows on waste classification and segregation were shown. Each household
was provided with a set of red and green dust bins. The street beautifiers were trained on all
aspects of solid waste management. Teams with two street beautifiers each were formed. Each
team was allocated 300 households and provided a tricycle and a set of hand tools. The tricycle

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                                                                                  Case Study IIR 2007

had two compartments, one green and the other red, to collect organic and inorganic waste
respectively.

The street beautifiers collect domestic garbage in their allocated zones between 7.00 a.m and
11.00 am. The waste collected in the households in green and red dust bins are emptied in the
colour-matching compartment of the tricycle and brought to the zero waste centre. Inorganic
waste is separated into more than 25 items under categories like bottles, plastics, metals,
cardboard, paper, PVC etc. They are then packed and sold to local waste collectors and recyclers
every month. Mixed waste (10-15 percent), which cannot be recycled, is sent to land fills. The
organic waste is composted and treated in two stages: (a) cattle dung/bio-dung composting (b)
vermi-composting.

For cattle dung composting, the organic waste is laid in a composting yard in large compartments
and spread in different layers. Each layer is treated with cattle dung microbial inoculums. When
the height of a layer reaches 5 feet, it is covered with a polythene sheet. This first stage of
composting takes 45 days. The polythene sheets trap the heat generated during anaerobic
composting and increase the internal temperature to 70-75 degrees Celsius. This high
temperature kills the pathogens. The moisture evaporates and condenses on the underside of the
polythene. The cyclic movement of water also cycles the bacteria aiding rapid decomposition
and reducing the volume to about one third in 15 days. After 50 days, the compost can be
harvested, sieved and packed in bags for sale. Under the second method, the semi-decomposed
organic waste is put into vermi-composting beds after 15 days. The vermi-compost can be
collected after 45 days. The rich composted manure is sieved and packed for agricultural
purposes and afforestation activities.

The Vellore solid waste management project is now managed by village Panchayats supported
by Residential Welfare Associations and SHGs. Each family pays Rs.20 and each shop pays
Rs.50 as waste collection charge. The funds collected from monthly subscriptions and sale of
inorganic waste and organic manure are used for paying the street beautifiers and supervisors.
Gandhi Nagar village Panchayat generated an income of Rs.10,646 during the financial year
2005-06 by selling organic waste and Rs.1,62,289 from inorganic waste. The pilots in Vellore
district are successful because informed communities are willing to pay for a clean environment
managed by local youth who take pride in beautifying their street and get paid for it too. Equally
crucial to the success is the full involvement of local bodies and their commitment to making a
difference.




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