Quick thinking transforms a ‘smelly’ patch into a green DSWM unit in Hardoi
Hardoi: Preconceived notions and resistance to change are two major barriers when it comes to doing things for one’s own and the community’s betterment. This in essence is what transpired in the Swacchhagrah project sponsored by DCM-Shriram Foundation and implemented by FINISH Society in Hardoi district. The bone of contention happened to be a piece of land which was used for parking vehicles or else used as a waste dumping ground.
When the project was started in the district, the municipal commissioner was excited to be part of this intervention and two areas were chosen, namely ward 21 and ward 5 were selected, to set the ball rolling. Ward-21 is considered the prime location of the district and comprises the house of the District Magistrate as also the municipal corporation office.
With all necessary permissions in place, the basic requirement was to select a location in Ward 21 where one could establish a Decentralized Solid Waste Management (DSWM) Unit. The FINISH team found a piece of land near the Municipal office. There were at least 20 plus shops located in the area which included the offices of all mainstream political parties of the district and state. The biggest catch in choosing the location was that it was overflowing with garbage and waste andwas presently being also used by the shopkeepers and the political party workers, asa makeshift parkinglot for their vehicles.
When FINISH Society started construction of the DSWM unit, they met with stiff resistance from day one itself. The shopkeepersand other office persons startedprotestingdespite the fact that the team was cleaning the waste and garbage. To address the shop keepers’ complaints a meeting was convened.
The main reason for their resistance was the imminent smell of composting and waste which would disturb the shop—owners and guests who would visit the political party offices. Once the FINISH Society team got a fair idea for the resistance, experts from the team including Project Manager Vivek Singh, organized a meeting with all the stakeholders and assured them that by using the latest scientific tools and methods for waste management and composting, managed to assuage their feelings and everyone agreed to permit the construction of the unit. But still, there was confusion as well as vested interests at play among the shopkeepers and the political parties since they ostensibly wanted to utilize this land for their own personal benefits.
However, work got underway and within the stipulated time, the DSWM unit was inaugurated by the CDO Akanksha Rana with much fanfare on Gandhi Jayanti, (2nd October 2022), by holding a Swaccha Bharat rally,
However serious challenges began cropping up once the DSWM unit started functioning. It is important to note that proper and odourlesscomposting of waste requires a dry atmosphere, but by the time the unit began to function, there was heavy rainfall in the district so the collected waste and the area got much moisturethan required. And after a few days, the waste started to stink and when it spread across the complex, the main stakeholders that comprised shopkeepers and political party functionaries accosted Vivek seeking his explanation but the latter had no ready answers. Political party functionaries threatened to demolish this unit and instead construct something more acceptable on this land. Vivek manfully briefed them that the waste started smelling during the composting process due to heavy moisture and promised to solve the problem within one month. As an immediate step, he covered the unit with a green net but this did not turn out to be the appropriate solution, since the main reason for the stink was heavy moisture and there was no way one could reduce it.
Vivek then began to think up an innovative solution and an idea flashed across his mind. He decided to use sawdust and straw to immediately reduce the moisture levels and his idea clicked. This led to better absorption of waste and made some space for better circulation of air, and due to this, the odour vanished almost overnight. The next day there was no smell in the complex much to the amazement of all the shopkeepers who started gathering at the unit. They were curious to know what magic wand had Vivek waved to make the putrid smell disappear overnight.
A triumphant Vivek briefly explained to them all how he managed to turn around the situation by using sawdust and straw. On knowing this, shopkeepers of the complex felt ashamed of their aggressive behaviour.
Soon after, the State Educational Minister Rajani Tiwari accorded due recognition to the project, and this appreciation pacified the political parties too.
Till date, the DSWM unit has collected waste from 302 out of the 555 households of ward 21, and the unit managed to source a total of 10 Tons of waste which led to the preparation of 1500 kg of compost.
With the help of this compost, many herbal plants, organic vegetables, flowers etc were planted and nurtured. This in turn enhanced the beauty of the unit, and today not only residents of Ward-21 but people from other district.
( An established media professional who has extensive experience in Media Academics and a proven track record in journalism )