Haritha Gramam: Story of a Green transformation
* Gopakumar Pookkottur
Haritha Gramam is not just any story but it is the story of Peroorkada, a residential locality in Thiruvananthapuram city which went green by practicing effective waste management at its source. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala now has more than 3000 households which adopted this model as a message for waste management after its successful implementation in Peroorkada. Particularly a total 14 wards belonging to the city have emulated this model. Haritha Gramam is a unique example for successful waste disposal including plastic and e-wastes. Moreover it is an innovative one because of its implementation of adopting new technology. It is a participatory model because people from all spheres including IT professionals, Doctors, Businessmen etc. have devoted their time for the proper functioning of this venture without any profit. Besides these, the project provides job opportunities for 30 staff including 22 skilled youths. “I am satisfied with this odour free waste management system, before using this technique, we suffered a lot to maintain the degradable and non-degradable wastes,” says Simon, IT professional, a beneficiary of Haritha Gramam who lives in Sree Narayana Nagar Residential area. S Sarath, one of the team leaders of Haritha Gramam who regularly visits large number of houses, says that several households are turning to bio-farming by using the bio-fertilizer, produced from waste management unit. The primary work is the manufacturing of different garbage bins suitable to the households. A single unit includes a Kitchen bin, Bio-clean (specially prepared decomposition mixture) and plastic sack. These are distributed to each household free of cost. For the maintenance and service of the system, they need to pay Rs. 200 per month. Apart from this they also collect plastic wastes once in a month and discarded footwear & bags once in three months. Broken glass & e-wastes are collected once in six months. On 10th day of every month Haritha Gramam workers replace the sack in kitchen bin and collect the compost and give necessary service if needed. Apart from this, for any enquiry or for finding fault in technology, house holders can contact through helpline numbers. This project has emerged as an alternative to pipe compost technology which faced so many drawbacks. Pipe compost creates bad odour in the house due to concentration of water in waste materials, and is very difficult to handle properly. This unit will take 60 days to complete the decomposition. Finally, they found a solution by replacing pipe with a specially prepared Kitchen Bin (plastic bucket) and adopted a new technology for the decomposition of waste. After implementation of the new system, the period required for decomposition has reduced from 60 days to 6 days.The specially prepared mixture called bio-clean contains Coco peat and inoculum. It is a microorganism which has the capacity to de-compost the wastes without any bad odour. Coco peat has the capacity to store water. These two things are the key ingredients of the system which makes it more acceptable among the households. Moreover Coco peat is the byproduct of coir industry; hence it is also indirectly boosting the coir industry of Kerala.Bio-wastes like residual food, rotten vegetables, egg shell, feathers and other meat-fish wastes etc. can be put into the bins. The process of setting up a waste bin starts with installing of plastic sack in an aerated dust bin. Two inches of specially prepared bio-clean mixture is added in the sack. The segregated bio-waste is put into the bin and then the bio-clean mixture is added so as to cover the food waste. These processes are repeated every day till the bin is full. Then the sack is sealed and kept in a dark area. Bio-waste will take around 25 days to get converted into bio-fertilizer. Haritha Gramam activists collect about 10 tons of bio-fertilizer per month which after proper drying is distributed to farmers and other organizations. This bio-fertilizer is very effective and one unit Can be used for 6 grow bags. They have now replaced the old bin with the thickened, holed plastic bucket to tackle the problem of damage by rodents. They also thought to use steel bin as it is more comfortable in small area of kitchen but the price is very high. Haritha Gramam activists have created a new and simple model for waste disposal which is being emulated all throughout the city.Before this waste disposal technique, the households needed to dump the waste in their small area of land which caused several difficulties. And those residing in apartments do not have any space to dispose the waste properly. After implementation of this project, a lot of them have started the terrace and kitchen farming. Besides using bio-fertilizer produced at their own home they also buy grow bags and bio-fertilizer from Haritha Gramam team.Haritha Gramam is a non-profitable venture focusing not only on waste management, but also on promoting bio-farming. It is quite remarkable that all houses which make use of Kitchen bin technique have started bio-farming. The organization aspires to explore the new techniques and methods to further improve the waste management process.