THANJAVUR: Kumbakonam has emerged the only city in Tamil Nadu among the 28 featured by NITI Aayog and Centre for Science and Environment (CSC) in a study, for their best practices in municipal solid waste management.
In the study titled 'Waste-wise cities', Kumbakonam has been featured as one of the three cities under the category of best practices in plastic waste management.
The Kumbakonam municipality in Thanjavur district has a population of around 1.5 lakh with a daily floating population of 25,000 as it acts as a business centre and market for nearby villages not only in Thanjavur but also Ariyalur. The municipality has 45 wards with around 36,105 households. The city generates 70 tonnes of waste as a whole on average every day. Of the total waste generated, 58 per cent is biodegradable and the remaining non-bio degradable, officials said.
The study said Kumbakonam is one of the few towns utilising non-recyclable plastics in an eco-friendly manner as refuse-derived fuel (RDF) in cement factories. Kumbakonam has also been utilising other non-biodegradable waste materials such as coconut shells and liquor bottles in a productive way, the study adds. The municipality also came third in Swachhata Excellence Award, 2019 for including self-help groups in its waste management mission. The study took into account that Kumbakonam is the first municipality in Tamil Nadu to have successfully used biomining technology for reclaiming a dump.
At its peak, source segregation in the city stood at 80 per cent, which is a notch higher than most other municipalities in Tamil Nadu, the study said.
When contacted, Dr K Prema, Municipal Health Officer of Kumbakonam said, of the 70 tonnes of waste, around 20 tonnes are of non-saleable plastic waste. "These are sent to cement factories in Ariyalur for use as refuse-derived fuel," Dr Prema said. Another six tonnes of plastic are saleable and sold to the waste merchants.
The report appreciated the municipality for focusing on holistic waste management model with decentralised waste management and source segregation. The stakeholders, including resident welfare associations and SHGs, have been made integral part of the transformation, the report said. The information education and communication programme on waste management, which included drawing traditional kolam, rewarding good practitioners with gold coins, integrating authorised waste pickers in the management system, mixing of plastic aggregates with bitumen to lay roads -- all came into praise in the report.
V Sathyanarayanan, secretary of the Federation of Kumbakonam All Traders Association who appreciated the efforts of the municipal administration, said the administration sensitised the public and traders to the evils of plastic waste and even took them to the waste segregation facility to highlight the need to do away with the carry bags.