Friday, August 12, 2005

Litter free Calicut

Today Calicut is going to be declared as India's first litter free city, reports The Indian Express. Noted author and social critic Sukumar Azhikode will make the declaration.

    The change, [however], is for real. Gone are the odious heaps of fly-infested trash, even the eyesore public rubbish bins. No one throws garbage out anymore, or need to. Thanks to an initiative that has caught the fancy of much of the city population, smartly uniformed young women arrive driving specially designed cargo autorickshaws at each city home, shop and office every morning, picking up the garbage. Every home has been given two covered containers—a white one for plastics and other non-biodegradable wastes, green for other trash.

    Together, the 730-odd trained women belonging to local self-help collectives now handle some 300 tonnes of city wastes, over the 83 square kilometres that this small city straddles. They are organised into 73 different units of ten women each. The city corporation gives each unit a grant of Rs 1.25 lakh and helps get an equal amount as bank loans, to buy two autorickshaws. Almost all of them are the unemployed from poorer city homes.

    It’s not a free service. Each home must pay them a service charge of up to Rs 30 each month. Shops, hotels and offices pay more. But few seem to grudge it.

I'm from Calicut, rather Calicut is the nearest city to my home. I went to college in Calicut for five years, and naturally I've a special liking for that city. So I'm glad about this development.

Declarations apart this is one thing that I noticed when I went to Kerala in June. Not just in Calicut even in other parts, the road sides were remarkably clean and trash free. We went to Wayanad for a day and Kalpetta was very clean too. (Incidentally another thing that struck me in Kerala was the quality of functioning of our cell phones. In my earlier apartment in Bombay I used to rush to the balcony if I receive a call as the signal was very weak in the rooms. But in my home, 24 km from Calicut, 2 km away from the national highway, a typical Kerala village, in any corner of the house my cell had the full signal.)

I'm sure today there'll be public celebrations, processions, and all that, as part of this event. I remember participating in the function declaring Kerala totally literate a decade and a half ago. I had written about it some time back. That mega event was also held in Calicut.


At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job!

Unfortunately, I noticed (in January this year) that although the roads in Thiruvananthapuram were wider than earlier, you could easily find overflowing garbage dumps and even garbage dumped in the open! Three or four years ago they had started a solid waste management plant in a nearby place called Vilappilsala, but the garbage situation still remains.

However, things are slowly changing, with households now getting their garbage picked up and delivered to the Vilappilsala plant. Hope the situation is better the next time I'm there!

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Veena said...


I agree with Vishnu though - the last time I went to Thiruvananthapuram(last year), I almost did not recognize my own house as all the nearby roads had become much wider and there was a lot of new development. But the garbage heaps had also grown proportionally. I must say also here I have always maintained(at the risk of being attacked more than once by irate S Keralites) that N Kerala is much more cleaner than the South :)

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments Vishnu and Veena. I must say that I don't know much about south of Cochin. I would like to believe that these changes are taking place in other parts of Kerala too. Chances are that that's the case.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Riot said...

This is great news. Made my day. Thank you

I hope this idea is replicated across other towns in Kerala. My home town of Kottayam would really benefit from such a scheme. Kottayam has very little garbage disposal and recycling capabilities. I have seen people burn plastic bags just to get rid of it!

I think I will write to the municipal council of Ktm about this scheme. Maybe something good will happen.

At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

one more reason -- Thanks. Yes, you should write to the municipal authorities. If you have friends over there ask them to take this up too. If it's implemented successfully in one city, it's easy for others to follow the lead.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Kaps said...

this is a welcome move. Chennai privatized garbage collection to ONYX (of Singapore) few years ago. this has brought about a marked change in the cleanliness of the City. However it can still not stake claim to be a litter free city.

if 10 people litter the 11th person doesn't feel guilty as he thinks that the incremental impact on the environment will be minimal. however if the city very clean, then the first person will feel reluctant to litter the place.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Anand said...

Thanks Kaps. You are right, if the general cleanliness level crosses a certain threshold it's easier to keep it even cleaner.


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