Lana Bhalta in Himachal Pradesh leads in sanitation and zero waste management

Believe it or not, in this village in Himachal Pradesh there are toilets in each of the 333 households, a localised system to sift waste from water flowing out of every kitchen into soak pits; and not a scrap of garbage or filthy water is to be seen.

This is Lana Bhalta, a remote village of Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh that has earned a name and won awards for cleanliness and recycling its waste.

Gram Pradhan Jagijt Singh couldn’t be more proud. He says that the village fulfils all the 43 norms set for winning the State award. Each of the households in the village has been given a sanitation kit that includes a toilet brush, a jute bag for collecting garbage, a dust pan, a dust bin and a nail cutter.

The five anganwadis in the panchayat are equipped with toilets that have special seats for children. The gram panchayat, comprising of seven revenue villages and a number of hamlets, has come to be known for its focus on zero waste management, achieved through an elaborate recycling exercise. The gram panchayat, which includes the Akal University, a nursing school and a residential school for deprived children, generates 1,200 kg of garbage a day. To deal with this bulk and more that is generated by the villages, the panchayat has set up a seamless collection and recycling system.

Recycling system

A lorry goes around the gram panchayat each day collecting garbage left by the villagers in jute bags. Workers with masks and gloves sift through the items for sale or recycling. Almost all items from the garbage bins are recycled. Raddi (wasted paper) is recycled into paper and stale, oily’ food into manure. Oil-free waste like raw vegetables and left-over food find their way into the vermicompost pit. Nothing is left unused.

Waste from building material such as stones, bricks and rubble is used for construction; while glass, tin, shoes, clothes and toys are sold to trash buyers. “Toxic waste is burnt in incinerators, while the entire garbage is made bacteria free,” explains Singh.

The village chief gives credit to the vigorous campaign launched by the Nav Yuvak Mandal, the Mahila Mandals and ‘Kala Jatha’ of the village. These groups of citizens went all out to inculcate clean, healthy habits. The Kalgidhar Trust provided the panchayat sanitation kits for all villagers, and financial assistance to construct toilets.

Vimal Kumar, who heads the Nav Yuvak Mandal, recalls that at the turn of the century people used to defecate in the open in the village. The organisation created a team of 100 youngsters. They have been campaigning since 2008, to sensitise villagers on cleanliness. Students of the nursing school have also played an effective role. Kumar says that the number of dysentery cases have come down sharply over the years. The Mahila Mandal has also been organising competitions on the subject of cleanliness to create awareness, while the art troupe has been using various forms of art including the famous Sirmauri Nati (a local drama form) to educate people.

There has been another positive impact too. “As a result of the campaign many have given up smoking bidis, which has further improved their health,” says Singh. Tara Devi, who heads the Mahila Mandal adds that with people becoming health conscious, the liquor vends have also closed down.

“These used to vitiate the atmosphere. Now, there is complete peace,” she says

~ Source: THE HINDU