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Jan 22, 2009

Solid Waste Management

With lands getting scarce, town panchayats in the periphery may look to joining the Coimbatore Corporation in using the Vellalore compost yard for disposal of waste. Solid waste management is progressing in all the 52 town panchayats in the district, even though at least half of them are struggling to find land to create landfills for the disposal of non-biodegradable waste. But, almost all of them have managed to find ways to make manure out of biodegradable waste.

Many town panchayats are an extension of the city by virtue of being located along the Corporation’s border, while the others are about 20 km away, such as Periyanaickenpalayam, which is one of the three town panchayats to receive awards for waste management. Collector V. Palanikumar gave away the awards on Wednesday to Gudalur and Vettaikaranpudur also for establishing composting facilities to make manure out of waste. The awards are being given to local bodies to encourage them to make their areas litter-free.

“At least 50 per cent of the total number of town panchayats have their own lands for composting facilities,” says Assistant Director of Town Panchayats G. Jayaraman. But, the re-cyclables (such as some types of plastics) and other non-biodegradable waste are being handed over to those who bought these for re-cycling. Many local bodies do not have enough space to carry out full-fledged disposal – both composting and landfill. But, concerted efforts are being made to sustain door-to-door collection of waste. Town Panchayats in the suburbs such as Vadavalli, Veerakeralam, Kalapatti and Irugur are collecting waste from houses.

While some do it every day, garbage is collected on alternate days in places such as Irugur. Besides, there is no segregation of waste in most of the local bodies, though a press release from the district administration says that segregation is being done as per the guidelines issued by the Directorate of Town Panchayats. Both biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste are handed over in a single bin or sometimes even in plastic carry bags. The un-segregated waste ends up accumulating on lands of local bodies that do not have the resources for even composting. Local bodies facing shortage of conservancy workers engage members of self-help groups to collect waste from houses.

Mostly, the SHGs are part of clusters of groups that are under the control of non-Governmental organi- sations. But, low wages and poor condition of push carts hamper efforts to motivate door-to-door collection. The town panchayats, and also municipalities in the city’s borders, namely Kurichi, Kuniamuthur and Kavundampalayam, say they are looking to joining the Corporation in its solid waste management programme so that a common site can be used for disposal. Mr. Jayaraman says that this is the solution that town panchayats look for in terms of getting the entire waste off their territory.
If they are able to send both the bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste to the Corporation’s compost yard in Vellalore, the town panchayats will be spared of the ordeal of looking for a disposal site. Finding a site is becoming increasingly difficult because of residents opposing a land near the colony being used for waste disposal. This NIMY (not in my backyard) syndrome is coming in the way of de-centralised composting or landfill.

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