Bringing about change

Clean and green

Anneshwara’s grama panchayat has taken the initiative to turn the village into a model of cleanliness, writes D M Kurke Prashanth

If ever there was a village that was a picture of cleanliness, then, it must be this one: Anneshwara village in Devanahalli taluk of Bangalore rural district. A visit to this village is a real eye-opener. It is a great example of how people’s representatives and the community can come together and bring about a transformation. The village is well on its way to achieving the motto of ‘Sampurna Grama Nairmalya’ or total cleanliness. What’s more, it has also won the Central government’s Nirmala Grama Puraskara (NGP). It has also won the district-level Nirmala Grama silver award. Also, the village has won awards at the taluk level.

Most foreign delegations that come to the country to understand rural hygiene visit Anneshwara. A delegation comprising 13 representatives from America, Uganda, China, Srilanka, Jordan and South Africa recently visited the village and were impressed with the cleanliness programmes organised in the village, and the level of community participation.

The story of Anneshwara’s transformation is not exactly a recent phenomenon. There have been several programmes and campaigns in the village that have created awareness about cleanliness. But what provided impetus to the cleanliness programmes in the village was a visit members of the gram panchayat paid to villages in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Some of the programmes taken up by the gram panchayats in villages there inspired Anneshwara’s GP members.

Taking the initiative

The first step they took was to install dustbins in street corners. The garbage collection bins have been divided into sections: the green ones are used to collect wet waste, while the red bin is used to accumulate dry waste. The number of bins installed in the panchayat limits are 85.

Every house was also provided with green and red bins for waste segregation, with aid from private organisations. Also street theatre and car festivals were employed as tools to create awareness about cleanliness. A waste management tax of Rs 20 was levied on every home. The Rs 4 lakh collected from this tax is now being used for waste management.

The grama panchayat didn’t rest at that. It brought about a check on use of plastic and made available biodegradable bags to people in the village. The panchayat has also distributed ‘Arogya cards’ to every villager,to collect data on various aspects of hygiene including the use of toilets, maintenance of homes and the yard in front of every home.

An inspection is also conducted every fortnight by anganwadi workers and helpers. All the information is recorded in the card. Based on the information available, members of the grama panchayat visit every home and create awareness about the steps to be taken to ensure cleanliness.

The Anneshwara gram panchayat has also set up a waste processing unit at a cost of Rs 9 lakh. This is the only organic waste processing unit in the whole of Bangalore rural district. Waste is collected once in 15 days in 17 tractors from all the villages that are under the jurisdiction of the panchayat. The waste, already segregated, is again separated at the processing unit. At least 10-15 tonnes of manure is produced once every 25 days. Six-seven tonnes of vermicompost is also produced from wet waste once every 45 days. Every ton of vermicompost fetches a price of Rs 6,000. The gram panchayat ensures that these funds are channelised into more development activities.

Ninety per cent of the houses in the panchayat limits have toilets. The gram panchayats keep a close watch on how they are being used. It has also constituted a village cleanliness committee for better administration. The panchayat has also built public toilets, and their management and maintenance have been handed over to those who don’t have toilets in their homes.

Also, the gram panchayat has installed solar power in 325 homes belonging to the SC/ST and all anganwadis and schools.

All-round improvement

* Thanks to scientific segregation and disposal of waste, the drains in the village are clean. What’s more, the cost of drainage maintenance has come down, according to Anneshwara gram panchayat executive Gopalaiah, who has been working here for the past ten years.

* “When the district level award was given to the panchayat, there was no waste processing unit. If not, we would have won more awards,” he adds.

“Out of the 1,175 houses in the panchayat limits, 1,100 houses have toilets. Fresh information is gathered every year. The health of villages has improved,” he adds.

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