CHENNAI: It is bad odour which hovers through the air in waste composting yards generally but here at the composting yard of Naravarikuppam Town Panchayat (colloquially called as Red Hills Panchayat), officials have found a 'green' solution by making the yard into a mini 'agro-forest'.
Here, nothing becomes waste. Various fruits, flowers, and vegetables are grown in rubber tyres, shoes, washbasins and toilet seats too. Climber plant ' Pirandai' creeps through the walls of the yard while small flowers in pink and yellow pop out from plastic water bottles hanging down. Along with them are various trees camouflaging the plants and plastic bottles are turned into art designs for showcase.
Speaking to Express, G Deepa, who is in charge of the yard, says: ''Any little space can be turned into a garden and even non-biodegradable waste too can be put to use in creative ways.''
The yard otherwise would have smelled full of stink but the Panchayat officials had learnt about agro-forests online and implemented in the available space of about one acre.
Ladies finger, tomatoes, onions, bitter-gourd, and chilies are some of the vegetables grown here while the flower garden has roses, lilies, and other small flowers. ''Seeds for the vegetables grown here are from the waste collected itself and the garden is fully organic,'' says Deepa.
Deepa, who has been in charge of the yard for three years has created this mini-forest with the help of the sanitation workers there. ''The vegetables and fruits grown here are given to sanitary workers and other staff at the yard for free,'' says Deepa.
Interestingly, for a waste composting yard, the Naravarikuppam has no bad odour but only good fragrance. Thanks to the portria tree planted there which neutralizes the bad odour. ''We planted Poosa Maram (portia tree) because it has the capability to absorb the odour from waste and gives a pleasant space for sanitation workers segregation waste,'' says Deepa.
Pomegranate, Mausambi, Guava, Cuckoo, Badam and Black Plum too are grown here. ''About six sugar cane and bamboo trees were planted three weeks ago,'' says Deepa, adding that agroforestry can help turn urban spaces into green cover and that it could be implemented in other composting yards too.
The yard apart from being home to squirrels and birds, also has an artificial duck pond with six ducks in it. Next to it, Azolla (mosquito ferns) are grown in a small pond as duck feed. It also has natural compost and vermicompost pits.
Officials at the Panchayat said the aim is to make Red Hills and surrounding areas into a zero waste one. G Sathish, Executive Officer, Naravarikuppam Town Panchayat said six tonnes of waste is collected every day and almost 90 percent of it is segregated.
''We do not want to throw away non-bio degradable waste such as rubber tyres and toilet basins. So we grow plants in that,'' said the Executive Officer, adding that the idea of creating a mini-forest was to put bio-waste into use.