On August 18, members of Exnora Green Pammal (EGP) gave away 2.5 tonnes of vermicompost to residents of Ward Four in Tiruvottiyur Zone. While making the distribution, they were savouring the sweet aroma of an initiative that has helped them break new ground.
In February, the EGP established a vermicompost park at Sathankadu in Tiruvottiyur, with the support of ITC Ltd. The facility was inaugurated on August 18, when EGP parcelled out its first harvest to the residents. This vermicompost unit is the fifth set up by EGP, and the first for residents of Tiruvottiyur, which is Zone One of Greater Chennai Corporation.
“The Corporation had provided us with five grounds of land at the Santhankadu dumping ground, for this project. There, we constructed a vermicompost shed, a shed for recyclable items, an office room and windrow platform shed,” says Mangalam Balasubramanian, founder and managing trustee, EGP.
It was a huge project, one that involved offering lessons in source segregation to 2,300 households across eight localities and deployment of 17 conservancy staff. The team included a impressive number of sanitation animators who have to ensure collection of segregated waste.
Out of the 17 conservancy workers, 15 were put on the duty of collecting waste from door to door. The other two were deployed at the vermicomposting yard.
Following the training of conservancy staff and the residents, segregated waste was collected from door to door in January and used for windrow composting — the production of compost by piling organic matter or biodegradable waste in long rows — in February. In March, vermicomposting work was set in motion.
“Since the last four months, we have collected 2.5 tonnes,” says M. Raja, project manager of EGP.
On the day the facility was inaugurated, an exhibition demonstrating the process was organised.
“Around 300 residents visited the site to see how their organic waste was being converted into vermicompost,” says Mangalam. “They demonstrated the various methods of home composting at the exhibition — using kambha, coco pit and aaga pots. When we met representative of colonies that carry out source segregation, we encouraged them to practise cluster composting.”
The exhibition also offered roof garden kit and training on how to prepare inoculum to facilitate the composting process.
The larger aim of this project is to promote and facilitate home composting among residents.
“Among the 2,300 households we approached, around 450 have already begun composting waste at home using the vegetable waste generated from their kitchens,” says Raja, who, since July, has been conducting workshops on rooftop gardens for residents, every week.
“Around 30% of households are doing composting at home. The segregated waste from other households will go into the vermicompost pit at Sathankadu. Our aim is to ensure that at least 50% of households take up home composting,” says Mangalam.
ITC extended assistance to this project as part of its ongoing Mission Sunehra Kal.