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Alappuzha gets recognized by UNEP for its solid waste management practices

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) congratulates Alappuzha city in Kerala on being recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) amongst five cities in the world that are working towards curbing pollution through their sustainable solid waste management practices. Other four cities in the list recognized by the UNEP are Osaka (Japan), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Penang (Malaysia) and Cajicá (Colombia).

Alappuzha, which has a population of 0.174 million and produces 58 tonnes of solid waste a day, has been implementing a project called Nirmala Bhavanam Nirmala Nagaram (Clean Homes Clean City) since November 2012. The city has adopted decentralised waste management and is pushing for 100 per cent segregation in all the 23 wards of the city. Moreover, as many as 80 per cent households now have biogas plants and decentralised composting system. In July 2012, the city's plight was dismal. Known as the 'Venice of the East' for its large network of canals, backwaters, lagoons and beaches, Alleppey looked like a vast waste dump. Totten garbage had piled up on roadsides, and canals and drains were clogged with bags of stinking waste from hotels, markets and meat shops. Dirt had spread everywhere in the heavy rains. Swarms of mosquitoes and flies had invaded the city spreading chikungunya and dengue.

Two and a half years later, Alappuzha has undergone a dramatic transformation. Streets are clean. The old dumping spots have disappeared. The most surprising makeover is that of the biggest and dirtiest garbage dumping yard near Vazhicherry in the heart of the city. It has been transformed into a WATSAN (water & sanitation) park with a small shed with six tanks (Thumburmuzhi aerobic composting model which can covert two tonnes of wet waste into compost in 90 days) where aerobic composting is done.

The Alappuzha Municipality has about 40,000 households in 52 wards. The Clean Home Clean City programme was started first in 12 of the most urbanized wards as a pilot project. These wards together have about 12,000 houses. The plan was to make the maximum number of households owning land, set up portable biogas plants or fixed biogas plans. Those who did not have enough land to set up the plants were advised to go for pipe composting. The fixed biogas plant designed by the Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) cost Rs.1,500. About 8-10 kg of waste can be treated in this plant. The plant provides biogas for two-three hours daily. The portable biogas plant is designed by IRTC. It is made of fibre and resin. The capacity of this plant is 1,000 litres, and it costs Rs.13, 500.


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