How a Kandivali slum cleaned up its act

Published on Aug 27, 2022 07:54 PM IST

Piles of garbage and filthy clogged drains defined the Ragdapada basti in Sarojini Nagar, Kandivali (west), two months ago

The slum, which has 500 households of labourers and house-helps, has managed to turn around its fortunes, thanks to the collective efforts of slum-dwellers, civic body and an NGO (HT Photo)
The slum, which has 500 households of labourers and house-helps, has managed to turn around its fortunes, thanks to the collective efforts of slum-dwellers, civic body and an NGO (HT Photo)
ByLinah Baliga

Mumbai Piles of garbage and filthy clogged drains defined the Ragdapada basti in Sarojini Nagar, Kandivali (west), two months ago.

The slum, which has 500 households of labourers and house-helps, has managed to turn around its fortunes, thanks to the collective efforts of slum-dwellers, civic body and an NGO.

Today, the basti looks shiny by producing zero waste, and has become a model slum. This has been achieved as a consequence of slum-dwellers making behavioural changes in the way they live their lives.

This has been a joint initiative of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and an NGO, Shree Aastha Mahila Bachat Gat.

The BMC steered their course through its scheme, Swacha Mumbai Prabodhan Abhiyan. The project is helmed by Dr Subash Dalvi, officer in-charge on special duty for solid waste management.

“The slum has an average population of 3000; and there had to be a certain discipline inculcated in them for streamlining waste disposal,” said Dalvi. “They have been taught to build a sense of ownership of their basti. Their garbage is collected at a fixed time and coloured bins are provided to segregate.”

The objective of zero garbage is to process all waste at the ward level itself, thereby reducing transportation and labour costs, and disposal at the already overburdened dumping ground.

Over the last two months, residents have understood the virtue of this exercise. They now keep their periphery clean. “The women believe in team building and also look into nullahs and toilet management,” added Dalvi.

Ashwini Borude, chairperson of Shree Aastha Mahila Bachat Gat, Kandivali (west), said Ragdapada slum was adopted through lottery system by the NGO two months ago, following which residents became involved in collecting dry and wet waste, cleaning drains and nallahs, as well as cleaning BMC toilets in the slums. Seven women from the organisation worked with safai mitras.

Each household donates 20 for segregation and composting at source every month, while commercial enterprises contribute 50. The money is spent to pay the safai mitra volunteers. The civic body pays for material and a monthly sum of 6000 per unit of 150 houses. One hundred and thirty kilos of wet waste and 100 kgs of dry waste are generated every day.

“The BMC only grants materials like dustbins for dry and wet waste, brooms, uniforms and cleaning equipment,” she said. “The safai mitras assemble at the slum at 7 am along with teams of women from the households. Each unit has 150 houses.”

Borude spoke about the way senior citizens and kids were involved in ensuring attitudinal changes in the people. Said she, “We conducted rallies and involved kids in games to generate interest. They were given prizes for identifying wet and dry waste. Their toilets were dirty, which were cleaned, while women were educated on sanitary waste. We told them not to dispose of waste in the open. While the youth were cooperative, senior citizens took a while to come around.”

Since the clean-up, illnesses from viral infections have come down.

“Kids would fall ill from vector-borne diseases. The nallahs are kept clean and every house would is visited by a safai mitra blowing a whistle, alerting a member of the house to handover garbage to them. Earlier they used to dump it outside their homes,” added Borude.

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