From small beginnings come big things. Although Mumbai is far from 100% source separation, a slum in Kandivali West achieved the goal in just over a year. A joint initiative of BMC and NGO Shree Aastha Mahila Bachat Gat, the Ragdapada slum in Sarojini Nagar is cited as a zero waste model.
With nearly 5,000 residents, Ragdapada was like any other slum with garbage everywhere and plagued with open defecation issues and clogged drains. In February 2021, the BMC chose him through a lottery to implement its Swacha Mumbai Prabodhan Abhiyan scheme, featuring colored bins (blue for dry waste and green for wet waste, and black for towels toilets), fixed times for garbage collection and toilet maintenance.
The most difficult part of the program was to convince the families to contribute Rs 20 each and the establishments to participate with Rs 50 each for the collection. Those who volunteered to pick up the trash were congratulated with the title of safai mantri.
As expected, the solution was first violently opposed by slum dwellers, who even threatened to dump more trash on the streets. After 18 months of sustained efforts, the site separates 250 kg of waste every day and composts 120 to 150 kg of wet waste.
The officer in charge of the special service for solid waste management, Dr. Subash Dalvi, said: “In every cleanliness campaign, citizen participation is equally important. We made them understand the importance of segregation and provided them with simple solutions to recognize colored bins and respect a time to deliver the garbage to the collectors. »
The chair of the partner NGO, Ashwini Borude, said raising awareness was the main step. “We held chowk sabhas, distributed pamphlets and went door-to-door for months explaining the need for segregation. It was hard work and not a miracle. Now there are volunteers for waste collection and for cleaning sewers, nullahs and public toilets. Borude said safai mantris also help with composting to reduce labor and transport costs.
A slum dweller, Pooja Kanojiya, said it feels good to live in a clean place which bodes well for health. Sports teacher and resident Vipul Thombre said the safai mantris went to each house at 7 a.m. and whistled for the segregated garbage. “The locals no longer throw their waste in the nullah and use the composition for their plants and trees,” he said.
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