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Defence Colony shows the way in waste management

Numerous composting pits, water harvesting systems, well-maintained parks and proper waste disposal outlets – the post Defence colony in South Delhi has shown the way in effective waste management.

The colony has through a series of measures localised waste management. “It is my duty to keep the neighbourhood clean; it is not just the government’s responsibility. We have always been clear on the importance of individual initiatives rather than depending on external agencies to keep the area clean,” said Shammi Talwar, joint secretary, RWA, Defence Colony.

The colony has numerous composting pits, water harvesting systems, well-maintained parks and proper waste disposal outlets. “We have around six composting units, wherein the kitchen waste is converted to manure. The manure thus produced, within 3-4 months, is consumed in the Colony as well as procured by Delhi government’s Parks and Garden Society,” Talwar said.

Talking about the successful waste management system of the Colony, the Joint Secretary noted that the waste is generally segregated by every household and handed over to the colony-appointed garbage collectors.

“We have appointed a garbage collector and a helper each for every 100 houses in the colony. The key is to engage the waste-pickers so that they don’t lose their livelihood. After all, there is wealth in waste,” she said. She added: “We also sell the manure produced at Rs 10 per kg to the colony residents.” 

For water conservation, the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) has installed around 18 water harvesting pits around the colony. Defence Colony has 32 parks, of which 20 are solely maintained by residents. 

“We take an active role in keeping our surroundings clean. We have appointed two gardeners each in an-acre park. We have also got a Mahila Park, maintained by a group of 10 women. Besides, we have the Puneet Dutt Park spread over  2.45 acre, the largest in the area,” a resident said.

Talwar said: “We want the Delhi government to construct at least two pits in every park in the city, so that the cut leaves can be collected in these pits and converted into manure to be used in the parks itself.” 

The joint secretary said everything was not hunky-dory when they started out in 2004. “The few dalao (landfill sites) in the colony were always overflowing with waste. The MCD trucks were a rare sight. But our perseverance paid off. Now, the Delhi Waste Management (DWM) trucks take a round of the colony twice a day.” 

“We were also helped by the Toxics Link NGO, which trained our garbage collectors on composting technique and provided us with the Effective Microbes (EM) solution,” she said. Talwar (58), who looks after waste management and horticulture departments of the RWA, also complains of the encroachment of market spaces in the area.

“We are currently facing the trouble of pavement encroachment by vendors. Many anti-social elements also enter the parks and litter around. We can’t restrict them as these are MCD parks. But we try to reason with them not to litter around,” she said.

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