Offlate, frequent droughts, rapid outbreak of communicable diseases, increase in instances of cancer, infertility and birth deformities have been creating headlines in Kerala and it can be attributed to unscientific natural resource management, uncontrolled use of pesticides and improper waste disposal. Reckless waste management and indiscriminate use of pesticides have become reasons for water pollution, toxic elements like cadmium, mercury and arsenic present in batteries, tubelights, pesticides etc are carried into
water bodies by rain water resulting in destruction of useful micro-organisms and living organisms like fish. It is in this backdrop, Government have launched Haritha Keralam mission to undertake scientific and sustainable development activities, for restoration of Kerala’s green canopy and ecological balance by promoting water and soil conservation activities, organic farming and proper waste management. The Water Resource Department has been designated as the nodal department for drinking water and irrigation activities. Agriculture department has been named as the nodal department for supporting organic farming. The Suchitwa Mission under the Local Self Government department shall provide necessary support to the LSGI’s in management of waste.
Waste Management Conundrum
The success of our earlier attempts in dealing with this conundrum has been limited. However, it facilated re-thinking and enabled us to develop a different model “the decentralised waste management model”. It is this model we intend to take to centralised model. The campaign managers shall solicit active participation of the community and shall convert the campaign in to a peoples movement for “freedom from waste.” By persuading the community to segregate waste into biodegradable and non-biodegradable and then treat biodegradable waste either by composting or bio methanisation we hope to prevent atleast 85% of domestic waste from reaching the streets, public places or community level treatment facilities.
The domain of waste management also includes management of nonbiodegradable waste, hazardous waste and liquid waste including septage. At Block level Government plans to set up material recovery facility (MRF) centres which can house scrap material fit for recycling. Recycling companies like Clean Kerala company will collect scrap material from such material recovery centres for further disposal. An unorganised sector already exists, for collecting scrap and transporting them to the recycling units, they shall be supported by Suchitwa Mission. Kudumbashree and other NGO’s can also facilitate material recovery from house holds. A systematic network will ensure meaningful recycling, the mantra for waste management is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, these words shall of this campaign. Every household shall be made to realise that management of domestic waste generated by them is their responsibility. We hope to achieve this by magnifying the adverse effects of a centralised waste management system especially when there is limited uninhabited land in our state. Composting and Bio- methanisation at house hold level shall be encouraged, an effective IEC (Information, Education, Communication) campaign shall be designed incorporating the advantages of decentralised waste management over the resonate loudly as the chorus of the campaign.
Kerala is now an ODF (open defacation free) state so the density of toilets here is very high, at the same time the people here depend on open draw wells for drinking water. Co-existence of all most same number of latrine pits and open draw wells is the biggest catastrophe to public health, so it is high time we think of septage management as water bodies have already crossed the limits in choliform count. NIMB (Not In My Backyard) syndrome is a reality here and so septage management is going to be challenging, the best option will be to build consensus in the community by participatory methods.
Mahatma Gandhi NReGS & Haritha Keralam
Kerala has been witnessing frequent droughts for the past 2 decades making life miserable for human beings and animals. As the onset of drought is slow, timely intervention by conserving water can reduce the impact of drought. MGNREGS offers a wide range of options for soil and water conservation, like reclamation of fallow land for agriculture, construction of check dams, ponds, rainwater harvesting pits and afforestation. Re charging the depleting aquifer through well recharge should also be on top of agenda. In order to improve ground water level and soil health we have to make the best use of Mahatma Gandhi NREGS. Once the soil health and water availability improves conditions become ideal for increasing farming activities. The availability of manure generated from composting at households will be an added advantage for homested organic farming. It will be the endeaevour of Haritha Keralam Mission to co-ordinate and converge all activities being taken up by the Water Resources Department, Agriculture Department and the Local Self Government Institution for sustainable development. With the whole hearted co-operation of every citizen we can put the wheels of progress back on rails and make Kerala a better place to live in.