By Nikhilesh Iyer (Nisarg):
It takes courage to go against the flow, in this case, against the accumulation of tons of waste in and around Turbhe, Navi Mumbai, which is steadily becoming like Deonar, Mumbai’s dumping ground.
Students of Samta Hindi Vidyalaya, Turbhe, initiated a cleanliness drive on October 2 to make the point that instead of blaming the authorities and municipal corporations, one should first look inwards and set an example to the common citizens of the nearby local communities, who are the biggest contributors to the growing garbage mountains.
Around 200 students were trained by a newly formed Navi Mumbai group called Educators for Equality, under the subproject – Asan Vigyan, on how to handle waste in a scientific manner and on how to safely segregate them, separating plastic from compostable organic waste, so that both the streams can be recycled.
The lessons were demonstrated by ‘Eco-Friendz’, a group of senior students of the same school who are finding ways to implement sustainable ecology and a pro-social economy. The army of students, mainly from classes 9 and 10, equipped with banners and broomsticks, trash cans and trolleys, started from their school at 9 AM and went from street to street cleaning and segregating whatever waste came in their way.
Energetic slogans were raised and reverberated to promote segregation of waste, cleanliness, and spread awareness about health and hygiene as well. Hand gloves, nose covers, caps, etc. for the cleanliness drive were provided by Prayaas, an NGO working towards a sustainable environment.
By noon, the following wastes were segregated:
About 30 plastic bottles were stuffed with non-biodegradable waste like polythene and food wrappers, weighing about 5 kg. The overall volume reduction achieved was more than 10 times.
Thermocol waste was dissolved in acetone to dramatically reduce its volume by 50 times, and to reuse the moldable plastic to make small decorative pieces.
To summarize, observing October 2nd at Samta Vidyalaya was an immensely memorable experience for all the volunteers and participants. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan might have ended that day, but for communities that live beside a dumping ground, an annual token service is not enough! As the young volunteers collectively voiced their opinion, they said, “We experienced the hardships and perils that safai karmcharis encounter each and every day, and some of us did get fever and illness too! Weakened though we were bodily, our resolution only got strengthened to support the true heroes of Swachchta, the safai karmcharis, who are undertrained, uneducated and underprivileged and often discriminated against on the basis of caste. Cleanliness is a technical, managerial and a social problem which requires a holistic solution. It does not make much sense to simply collect all waste and dump them in a common dustbin once in a year. The fullest utilization is only possible by careful segregation of source in a scientific manner, at the grassroots level and day to day basis, and inculcate the habit of transforming ‘waste’ into valuable materials!”
The next day, all the waste that had been segregated was turned into value in the following ways:
Plastic bottles filled with covers were assembled and tightly packed with sellotape to make a rocket launcher shaped flowering stand. It can be further painted to make it even more beautiful.
Moldable plastic that hardens on exposure to air, can be used to make plastic containers and crafts
Eco-Friendz Deependra, Hema and Deepak watering Neem trees planted over organic compost bin
Stree Mukti Sanghatana were contacted to procure compost bins along with special microbes which aid in fast and odourless composting. The designer and proponent of home composting of Stree Mukti Sanghatna is none other than Padmashri Dr S P Kale, a renowned environmentalist and retired senior scientist formerly of the Nuclear Agriculture and Bio-Technology Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
One large 75 litre basket, fondly called ‘Jaduchi Khat Tokli’ or magical compost bin, was enough for transferring all the organic waste collected, along with about 3 kg of microbe culture, gently mixed and stirred. To add icing to the cake, neem saplings were planted on top to consume the newly forming manure and grow, thereby making a garden out of all the organic garbage.
And thus began Swacch Turbhe Andolan, not a one-day event, but a perennial movement for better environment, which aspires to collaborate with all like-minded scientific, pro-social and environmental groups across the nation to level up Swacch Bharat Abhiyan to Swacch Bharat Andolan!
If you want to initiate a local Swacchta Andolan at your place, contact us here: