It has been more than two years now for the residents of Sarvapriya Vihar (street 5 to 15) in Delhi to champion the easy but often overlooked techniques of waste segregation and they have now established themselves as a role model for other Resident Welfare Associations to follow suit. Green Clean India in conversation with the office bearers of RWA SPV (Street 5 to 15) presents here the journey which made the initiative a success.
Situated in the Hauz Khas ward of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), the SarvapriyaVihar RWA (5 to 15) is now a role model for many to follow. With around 300 households and a population of 1200 residents boarded on a community experiment with Municipal support in the beginning of the year 2018. The colony has now achieved 99% segregation level of household waste and is using the output manure for their use successfully. Though the path taken looks simple, in real it was a tedious task made possible with mutual support.
First move was to prioritise the cause within the working frame of RWA, so they set up an Environment wing within RWA led by a few environment conscious volunteer residents and called it the Green Team.
It was important to make the residents and the stake holders including the vendors to be in line with the thought process of the Green Team to create an environment friendly future for all. In the process, they undertook the drive to make everyone aware of the plans ahead and to make them feel responsible towards the initiative. The children in the society also became the moving ambassadors of the environment friendly message to everyone.
Kids of SarvapriyaVihar on an awareness trip in the colony along with elder mentors.
The residents of SarvapriyaVihar, passionate about changing the way waste was handled in the colony, first got together for no plastic drive in their locality. One thing led to another and with mutual cooperation they were able make themselves a zero-waste colony by installing a compost facility.
In an effort to sensitize stake holders, the vegetable vendors in the society area were provided with cloth bags to replace their regular plastic bags.
There were two important factors that contributed.
First was the decision of the members to not contribute to the landfill at Okhla and make the civic situation worse in the region.
Second and more importantly, Shammi Talwar of Defence colony, who has earned a name for herself for the composting techniques, changed the scenario by sharing her expertise in her guidance. She visitedSarvapriyaVihar on invitation and collectively zeroed in on a corner patch in our DDA Park to set the project.
While the resolve was strong and most of the people were supportive of the move but to find resources for the project was a challenge.
“They required funds to purchase composting equipment, solution, paying churners and rewarding waste collectors from time to time in cash and in kind, plants, tarpaulin for drying out compost, drum for making solution etc. We circulated a letter requesting residents to donate for the cause and managed to build a corpus. It was very encouraging to find members support,” says the President of RWASarvapriyaVihar, street 5 to 15.
SDMC DC interacting with the residents of SarvapriyaVihar
Upon finding out that DDA does not give any permissionor allocate land for such projects, the Green Team approached Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, MP, Mr. Somnath Bharti, the Local MLA and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) Deputy Commissioner. All three gave us a careful hearing and conveyed their willingness to support and help the initiative,” adds RWA President.
Green Team started a long awareness building program among residents for household waste segregating.
The children became the ambassadors to convey the message
he is in face of strict order by supreme court regarding segregation and how he is being fined by authorities. Last step is followed only if needed and that is of supervisor making resident speak to a member of green team or RWA prez . Positive reinforcement and politeness forms style for all communication
Some residents were apprehensive that the composting site will generate foul smell and/or would eventually become a garbage dump.said, Secretary RWA SarvapriyaVihar, street 5 to 15.
“We invited Shammi Talwar, a pioneer in composting, to come and interact with the residents on all these issues and we invited the MP to inaugurate the composting site, which had a major impact. Look at the site now after 2 years and how clean it is”
said, Secretary RWA SarvapriyaVihar, street 5 to 15.
The compost pits area as it looks today
The hard earned manure for sale to residents
First sales of compost of 120 Kgs were carried out in February 2019, and it continues. The residents, Green Team and the RWA office bearers are on their mission to make SarvapriyaVihar a zero-waste colony with complete conversion of waste into valuable manure and an appropriate recycling of e-waste.
There were many precious lessons which one can infer from the experience of the residents of SarvapriyaVihar.
First and foremost being that it is important for all stake holders to be on board. The team executing the project must enjoy the confidence of the residents as well as the administration. It is important to build a positive and responsive ecosystem around the initiative so that the apprehensions of the residents are sorted out on time.
Apart from the fellow residents and the administration, the confidence and cooperation of the waste collectors and supervisor and vendors is also vital.
Most importantly a system of reward and punishment for residents as well as other stakeholders is necessary in sustaining the initiative over a long period.