Come summer, and the streets of the garden city are strewn with leaf litter. While some roads are swept clean by workers daily, in most places these dead leaves are just set ablaze. Smita from Tippasandra agrees, “Everywhere you go, there are leaves accumulated in heaps. At some places, the leaves are even burnt, causing pollution in the surroundings.”
To prevent this, many communities in different parts of the city have joined hands with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahangara Palike (BBMP) and devised a model to dispose of dead leaves in a clean and healthy way. Residents of Malleswaram, Koramangala, Indiranagar and many other areas have successfully created low-cost leaf litter collection units to keep the neighbourhood clean and eliminate the risk of garbage-burning.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
In Malleswaram, a team of residents called ‘My Clean Malleswaram’ has created a huge pit in a park where dead leaves can be stored. The BBMP pourakarmiakas, as part of their daily routine, collect the litter from the residences and streets in the area. The waste is then segregated and the leaves are thrown in the pit.
Apart from leaves, during the months of April and May, the pits are filled with Nitrogen-rich Pongamia flowers. “Since these flowers are rich in Nitrogen, they help produce good quality compost,” says Vani Murthy, an expert in waste management.
The Residents Welfare Association in Koramangala 3rd Block had introduced a similar model a year ago. However, instead of storing, the leaves are made to pass through a shredder. The shredded powder is then mixed with cow-dung flurry and enriched with neem flowers to create compost.
IN THE LONG RUN
While this project is beneficial, it requires a certain amount of investment in terms of labour, machinery and equipment. The Koramangala 3rd block Residents Welfare Association spends `25,000 on an average every month.
Given the costs involved, how can the communities sustain this model in the long run?
Anil Chinniah, the secretary of the association, says, “We sell the compost to the residents. Some Agro companies are also our customers. This way, we ensure there is a constant cash inflow to fund the programme.” He proudly mentions that the association was able to garner 80-100 tonnes of compost in the last one year.
Does it help if you have support from the BBMP? Sandhya (a member of My Clean Malleswaram )and Anil agree. They say it is easier to seek permissions and approvals when you work with the authorities.
Sandhya adds, “There are many households in Bangalore where leaf-composting is already done. But we wanted to create a holistic system where we involve all the right people so that it is a community effort and not just an individual initiative. This is why we work with the local corporators and resident welfare associations to ensure there is smooth functioning of the activities.”
These communities don’t want to stop with this. “Since this requires minimal capital, we can replicate this model any where- in parks, educational institutes, apartment complexes, etc. We also want to create workshops for terrace gardening and organic farming which will help keep the environment clean,” says Sandhya.
Published on May 3, 2014 in The New Indian Express