Who would u call? - Dirt busters

Community News 2010-02-18 13:06:44


Gomantak Times, February 18, 2010

The first community project management in Goa, funded by Fomento began three months ago in the hinterlands of Penha De Franca. Olinda Fernandes reports.

At the time when most of Goa is asleep and the only the distinct hooting of the poder is audible, the houses in ward no 8 at Penha de Franca village Panchayat is bustling with intelligent activity : house wife, Elizabeth Thomas of Krantinagar has lined up all her garbage bags, with the waste segregated according to the chart pinned up on her fridge. Hardlyhas  6 a.m chimed on her wall clock, and uniformed workers are at the door, exchanging pleasantries and stacking up different bags of garbage.

 This is a routine followed every single day with five hundred households, flats and shops, as part of the community waste management project.

Prides Pradeep Sirmokadam, Joint CEO of the Leela Trust an environmental engineer,   " all our boys have undergone routine medical checkups and are healthy! Going to pick up garbage from house to house they are become more like friends of the villagers today" and if the overall landscape of the village is anything to go by, the garbage collectors have certainly done a terrific job!  

What was once an area littered with a carpet of trash, so much so that one had to hop their way across, all the while sheathing their nose, has now been transformed into a clean expanse, devoid of stench. Boards have been propped at regular stretches warning people not to fling any waste, public garbage bins have been done away with and systematized collection has replaced the random dumping customary to the villagers. 

But the revolution was indeed not at all in a days work. Rewind six months back when garbage cropped every nook and cranny, and the villagers were illiterate about segregating their waste... Enter Umesh Phadte , Ex Sarpanch and present Panch of ward no 8. "I wanted to start small and literally give a major makeover to atleast one ward. My biggest challenge turned out to be sensitizing to the people. I knew that if my plan was to succeed, the contribution of the people would be essential." And so the story goes….Umesh went door to door, educating the people on garbage segregation and around six – eight months down the line Pradeep and Umesh got talking



The former was looking for a similar opportunity to work on and what better project to take up then the one with the ground work already done. Alike minds boosted this little crusade  even further, and it was decided that the project be officially taken up by the Leela Trust and financially backed by Fomento, a corporate house with a great sense of social responsibility. Says Umesh and Pradeep in unison, “this project woudn’nt have been possible without Fomento providing the finances and our Panch, Rajendra Naik signing the MoU". Once that was out of the way, the hiring of the employees turned out to be the Herculean task. "We scouted the slums but no local workers were ready to commit themselves. Now looking at how dignified the job is and how well our boys are treated, hopefully there will be others to join the bandwagon,"sighs Pradeep.A fact that deserves special mention is that the project physically began on December 31,2009 only three months post signing the MoU.


A total population of 2,500 generate solid waste amounting to 1500 kgs per day. This garbage is divided into seven categories big bones, fruits and pieces of vegetables, green leaves , wet paper, meat and egg shells, stale food waste and impurities like blade, plastic or metal that invariable find their ways into household dustbins. 

Each of the households have been given specific bags to dispose a certain waste. Once  all this waste is accumulated, it is placed into wheel mounted trolleys and taken to the Central processing unit where the bio degradable wet waste is converted and dry waste (non veg and big objects) fall prey to double shredder. 

Non- biodegradable waste on the other hand, is sorted, segregated, bailed and stored to be used by the recycler explains Pradeep, "The secondary treatment involves bacterial composting using organic waste converter. We have got a good culture of micro organisms and thus, the sale of the compost goes back to the Panch and the money is utilized for similar projects... In a way making the village self sufficient". Currently, seven pits have been constructed in and around the village, with the seventh one relegated for vermin composting. In the near future however the project hopes to expand to include several other wards and thereafter to other villages but beginning in initial stages it is still to early to tell.

Nonetheless, the project most definately has the gung-ho support of the villagers says Elizabeth Thomas of Krantinagar. "It is amazing how this project has shaped up. And what's even more appealing is that Umesh is with the collectors every single day watching how they collect the garbage. Such dedication is not apparent otherwise today." she goes on to add how such projects usually begin well but phase out in sometime. In this case however all is going well. Another resident, Lotlikar explained how initially it was a problem to segregate the waste, as she was not one to follow such a system but following the same procedure day in and day out,  She hopes her mistakes have reduced. “initially I would invariably mix categories”, smiles the sheepish Lotlikar but Umesh would patiently explain to me how its done and now I’m a lot better”.

Taking to the project like fish to water is Alzira Dantes who has the pamphlet of the segregation of waste pinned it her refrigerator and follows it like the gospel of truth . “ I am ready to do anything to maintain the cleanliness of the village. I couldn’t bear to get out of the house earlier. Now taking a walk is so refreshing.”



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