Swachh iconic places: Water kiosks, mule dung plant keep Katra clean
JAMMU The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine has been adjudged the best Swacch Iconic Place in the country for initiatives such as installing water kiosks, setting up an equid dung management centre, putting up kill waste machines, along with regular mopping up of waste by 1,300 sanitation workers. The shrine generates a total waste 16 tonnes every day, including seven tonnes of mule dung.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board chief executive officer Simrandeep Singh said, “We installed water kiosks to reduce the sale of pet/plastic bottles. Fifty reverse vending machines that crush pet bottles into pieces, which our sanitation workers were given incentives to sell, were installed. The water kiosks, also called water ATMs, offer cold, warm and lukewarm water. Indian Oil was our CSR partner in this initiative.”
The board also installed underground garbage bins. “We have vehicles that suck out garbage from these big bins for their disposal”, he said.
A mule or equid dung management centre, which started functioning in January, converts mule dung into manure. “After they are collected from tracks and sent to the centre daily, compost beds are made. We supply the manure to the Indian Army in Nagrota besides local farmers, the forest department and the National Highway Authority of India,” he said.
The CEO said that the mule dung treatment plant in Katra was a special effort. “First, we went for RIFD (radio-frequency identification) tagging of the mules that curtailed their number to 1,500 to 1,600 on tracks every day. Earlier, 4,000 to 5,000 mules were used on the tracks to ferry pilgrims. Then, we came up with the mule dung management centre,” Singh said.
Vegetables are being grown using the organic manure from the centre. On an average, seven tonnes of mule dung reaches the management centre daily during the lean season from November to April. It goes up to 12 to 13 tonnes a day during the peak season.
Besides sanitation workers on shift duty 24x7, the management installed a kill waste machine.
The shrine board also came up with urinals that do not require water to flush. A bio-compost is used for cleaning them and they do not emanate smell.
The number of garbage collecting vehicles has been increased and the height of the wire mesh along the tracks has been raised to prevent people from throwing trash on the slopes of the Trikuta Hills besides serving as a protection for them.
In 2017 the shrine stood third across the country.
The concrete waste of buildings demolished in the shrine area was crushed and used for widening the tracks. “We don’t dump debris on the slopes,” he said.
The CEO said that the priority now is to work on plastic reduction and further scientific handling of the waste. “We have sewage treatment plants at Bhawan and Adh Kuwari. Such plants are being added in all 28 toilet blocks,” he said.