Two Choice Lanes
Bangalore’s modest pride
Sujata Devadas, December 27, 2019
India’s only composting learning centre is in Bangalore. A lush green park grows insulin, brinjal, bananas, okra, amaranthus, spinach and cabbage on healthy soil nourished by organic compost made inside the park itself. Its name Swachagraha Kalika Kendra (SKK) translates to ‘CleanPlanet Learning Centre’ led by the motto ‘compost, grow and cook’.
The surge to drive civic cleanliness forward did not begin with this park. Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT), formed 10 years ago by 12 Bangalore volunteers committed itself to resolve the waste crisis, filed a public interest litigation submitting substantial evidence of civic agencies neglecting proper waste disposal in a rapidly expanding metropolis. It raised the need to impose penalty on communities and individuals failing to segregate waste properly and the need to ban single use disposables.
All about the 4Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, their success story has not been replicated.
Practice, not preach
Huge support for ecological Solid Waste Management (SWM) came from Karnataka Legislative Assembly Member Satish Reddy in 2016. He funded 12 mesh composters for 12 temples in HSR Layout. That same year, to prevent the burning of mounds of leaves, Bengaluru Municipality Corporation (BBMP) invested in 22 composting tanks installing them in each of their parks in HSR Layout.
MLA Satish donated 10 lane composters to HSR Layout streets the next year. He gifted 100 Chutki home composting bins to families registered with HSR Citizens Forum encouraging them to compost food and garden waste at home. Stepping closer to making it a minimal waste ward, kitchen waste collected from 40 to 50 houses on that street is layered into the lane composters, the resultant compost used to fertilise plants in local public parks.
Bangladesh, Vietnam and Sri Lanka practiced this 2-stage aerobic composting in cement tanks earlier. It works well at HSR Layout where 3 sections of a family’s kitchen waste is combined with 1 section of the composting medium first, then one portion of the resultant compost mixed with 1 garden leaf portion in the second stage inside large mesh lane composters installed by Soil and Health Composting Solutions company.
India’s only composting learning centre SKK was Satish’s third funded project inaugurated on December 12 2018. Conceived and maintained by SWMRT and HSR Citizens forum, it has had Chinese, Indonesian, British, Filipino, Bangladeshi visitors, faculty from Minnesota and Washington Universities as much as people from West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and the Indian capital New Delhi - looking through 2 lanes of composter models.
Swacchagraha Kalika Kendra motto
Spoilt for choice
Solar Marigold, Honey Bee, Aaga, Aditi, Shishira, Orbin Solo, Ghutka, Morph, Chutki …10 different community composter models by vendors along with DIY options are at SKK. Anaerobic biogas techniques and Japanese Bokashi drum fermentation are included. Visitors select from 12 complimentary home composting models too.
Far more practical for all than visiting SKK in HSR Layout, 4 more parks like SKK in the North, South and West of Bangalore did not happen, projecting the lack of another constructive civic cleanliness collective like SWMRT.
2 experts - Vasuki Iyengar from the home composting segment and vermi composting enthusiast SWMRT founder member Vani Murthy - were invited to teach composting and demonstrate its value in growing fruits and vegetables at SKK by HSR Citizens Forum. Once the class dates are fixed, SWMRT and HSR Citizens Forum inform those interested in attending the classes.
Vani’s sobriquet is ‘Worm Rani’, her terrace garden called ‘The Green Temple’ by friends, fans, students and followers to signify her vermi composting expertise. Once a Director at Oracle Corporation, Vasuki is now a reputed solid waste management expert. His classes are based on the Trashonomics book that covers problem statement, refuse and reduce plastic waste, waste segregation and separation plus composting - subjects not covered in school curriculums.
December 2019 Workshop at Nanjing University
Stacking up people
Invited by Dr.Xuehua Zhang, Director of Lishui Institute of Ecology and Environment at Nanjing University, sponsored by China Vanke Co. Ltd, Vasuki, designer and manufacturer of 3 composting models, conducted these composting workshops in Nanjing, Chengdu in the central province and Shenzhen near the Pearl River Delta bordering Hong Kong.
In all urban areas, certainly in India with 1.4 billion people, urbanites stacked up in high-rise buildings generate tonnes of waste. Public waste bins in Bangalore were removed 15 years ago because people dumped waste around these bins!
Although space availability is a constraint, yet, Go Native restaurants, Discovery Village Resort, Water Woods resort near Kabini, several resident associations, apartment complexes and corporate offices now use bio waste composting as the best solid waste management method.
90% of the waste generated can be managed. Both Vani and Vasuki compost kitchen waste at home. Go Native and Discovery Village Resort chose Japanese Bokashi drum fermenting to compost about 550 kilos of bulk green waste or food waste generated at their chain of restaurants per day.
Many schools, colleges, corporate offices, two government organisations and apartment complexes in Mysore and at Prakriti Shakti Clinic of Natural Medicine in Kerala have conducted these workshops.
Dead Space, clean-the-street
‘Home’ is not perceived as an area ‘within 4 walls’ anymore. The surrounding area outside its walls is a more inclusive perception, a definition qualified by such adjectives as ‘posh’ or a ‘slum’ area.
Increasing number of residents have opted for the Dead Space clean-the-street ‘Swaccha Beedhi’ drive. Resident Associations or volunteers from Koramangala First Block, Sada Shiv Nagar, RMV Dollars Colony, Naagarabhaavi, Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Thippasandra chose a ‘dead space’, one that does not obstruct pedestrian traffic to install a lane leaf composter. Once they accept ownership and responsibility for its maintenance, Soil and Health Composting Solutions company brings the composter and installs it there, training those who requested it to gather leaves lying on the street and compost it inside this bin by adding composting medium and wet waste from 6 to 10 homes.
A Shishira Swaccha Beedhi bin in Sadashivnagar
Practicing BYOC: Vani Murthy, Vasuki Iyengar and their friends use their own cutlery at parties.
“Use my own cutlery”
Refusing single use disposables is another ingenious revolt. Vani, her students, family, friends, fans and followers carry a steel plate, spoon, glass, a steel straw and a container with them when stepping out for an extended period of time: 'Bring Your Own Cutlery (BYOC)' to stop using disposables. At weddings, picnics, parties, religious gatherings and restaurants, they request waiters to pour coffee for instance, into their own steel glass instead of accepting paper cups. Renting steel cutlery for functions to promote this practice is now a regular feature in Bangalore.
Finally! A dog-walking park!
For months, composting animal excreta in an old Sintex tank buried in the soil was a disgusting foul-smelling affair at Second Chance CUPA Adoption Centre in Dommasandra village, Bengaluru. A no-go zone. Now, a walking park or play area for dogs is very likely at this Compassion Unlimited Plus Action or CUPA centre that could well bring in funds as a paid service for dog owners.
In a corner of it, a mesh composter rests on top of 50 cement blocks to prevent entry of rodents into the bin from the bottom. To guard their own health, garbage collectors and composting staff wear protective uniforms before composting dog poop above the ground. Mixing it with BioClean coco peat, it is layered with wood-ash, offered free by Tandoori restaurants from wood used in their ovens.This clean method destroys the controversy of proneness to coliform that exists as much with composting non-vegetarian food as it applies to poop composting.
Pioneers to minimise
In Bangalore’s 198 wards, 160 have dry waste collection centres, 38 do not have them. Inching closer to minimising waste with well implemented plastic ban and waste management, 4 more lane composters were inaugurated in HSR 1,3 and 7 sectors by MLA Satish Reddy and Corporator Gurumurthy Reddy last month (December 24 2019). It is sponsored by First American (India), accepting the responsibility to maintain them.
Other areas in Bangalore are catching up. Interested in SWMRT's latest moves? Their Facebook link is below.