Dumpyards to parks

More than 500 Sneharamam parks will be set up in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts

Published: 28th September 2023 07:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2023 07:23 AM   |  A+A-

Goats forage for food in the playground-turned-dumpyard at Muttathara in Thiruvananthapuram | B P Deepu

Express News Service

KOCHI: The fire at the Brahmapuram waste treatment plant earlier this year was an impetus for a renewed conversation on waste management. The incident, whilst throwing light on the apathy of officials in timely dealing with the problem, also brought under the scanner the willful ignorance of the public in adhering basic rules regarding the proper disposal of garbage.

In a bid to address both these concerns, the state government in April launched an ambitious campaign, Malinya Muktha Nava Keralam, to see Kerala attain zero-garbage status. While the jury on whether this was successful is still out, the campaign does hold merit in having opened new frontiers to tackle the waste management crisis affecting all major cities.

The National Service Scheme’s Sneharamam parks is the latest in that line of new frontiers. This campaign, devised to quell illegal garbage dumping and give a facelift to city streets, envisions turning city pockets, where garbage is usually dumped, into beautiful green spaces adorned with artworks. This way, these spaces are alluring enough for the public to visit, sit and relax.

The three-month campaign is slated to be kicked off on October 2. As many as 3.5 lakh student volunteers have been roped in to assist the campaign. They will spearhead the project and ensure that these parks are maintained sustainably. According to the officials, the involvement of youngsters will be a game-changer and would greatly tilt the fight in favour of good waste management practices.

More than 500 Sneharamam parks will be set up in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam. “This is one of the priority initiatives being taken up by the state NSS this year. Our volunteers will take over and protect these spaces to ensure that they don’t turn dumping spaces again,” says state NSS officer Anzer R N.

Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts have 260 and 290 NSS units, respectively. Each unit has around 100 volunteers. Besides them, students from higher education institutions and universities will also participate. “Each unit will set up at least one Sneharamam park. We came up with this idea to imbibe the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment and proper waste management in today’s youngsters,” Anzer adds.

The local self-government department (LSGD) has issued an order directing the local bodies to identify the waste-dumping sites in their jurisdiction and hand that list over to the respective NSS units. Suchitwa Mission will provide Rs 5,000 for setting up each Sneharaman park. A total of Rs 1.5 crore has been set aside for the project. The state government also plans to give prizes to the best Sneharamam park at the state and district levels. According to official sources, a meeting will be held this week to outline campaign activities.

A garbage container adorned with the artwork of youngsters

The role of youngsters

Since the Brahmapuram fire outbreak and the subsequent HC intervention, youngsters have been at the forefront of campaigns rolled out to tackle the garbage menace.“We mobilised youngsters with the help of NGOs and youth organisations. There are around 500 active volunteers, and around 1,000 volunteers have taken part in many of the initiatives,” says district youth coordinator Krishnakumar I G, Malinya Muktham Nava Keralam campaign, Ernakulam district.

“We are trying to build awareness among the youngsters and encourage them to live more green and adopt eco-friendly ways,” he adds.The results are for everyone to see. Recently, these youngsters installed containers at sites where public dumping was rampant.“We installed around 15 containers. The youngsters adorned them with interesting artwork and messages,” Krishnakumar says.

To promote youth participation, the campaign cell has already constituted a seven-member team with youngsters below 30 years of age in every district.“We are planning to mobilise at least 50 young volunteers from each ward for grassroots-level campaigning,” said state youth coordinator Suhana R H, Malinya Muktha Nava Keralam.

At a glimpse

More than 500 Sneharamam parks will be set up in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts
Suchitwa Mission will provide Rs 5,000 for each park. A total of Rs 1.5 crore has been set aside for the project
The officials are slated to meet this week to outline the campaign’s activities

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