Community participation with the right support from the government can do wonders for society and Himachal Pradesh has set an example by enabling many villages to become water sufficient and waste-free. Waste management is a long standing issue across the state and many parts also grapple with water crisis and sanitation problems.
In February 2020, the state government under the rural development department launched a programme to train the representatives from Panchayatiraj institutions in sustainable models of waste management. The state government plans to set up garbage treatment plants in different districts and one such plant in Aima Gram Panchayat of Kangra district has been successfully running since 2018 with community participation.
The waste treatment plant was set up in Aima panchayat under the Swachh Bharat Mission with public participation. Garbage collected from the villages under the panchayat is segregated into organic waste and plastic waste. While organic waste is converted into manure the plastic waste is transformed into construction material.
In Sughar village of Aima, a committee of senior citizens formed by the panchayat administration supervises the solid and liquid waste management activities. The committee along with village leaders run awareness campaigns on hygiene and safe sanitation to sustain the ODF Plus status of the village received in 2018. The villagers also participate in weekly cleaning of village surroundings. The village also has sign boards in public places highlighting the messages of safe sanitation. In the village around 90 per cent of the households have individual soakpits for disposal of grey water.
Karali village in Hamirpur district earlier struggled with water scarcity. However, the village has now overcome the water crisis due to the collective effort of the villagers. The villagers use rainwater harvesting method to recycle waste water, which is now used for irrigation. The initiative was started by villagers a few years ago with financial support from the State Disaster Response Fund for the water treatment project. Even a villager donated land to build the water tanks.
Earlier grey water overflowed the village roads but now due to the waste-water management project the village has a green cover and it has also enhanced produce in the fields.
Paplah village in Hamirpur district has also seen significant changes in recent years due to community participation for safe sanitation and waste-water management. Earlier the grey water from kitchen and bathrooms flowed into the streams and it polluted the green surroundings of the village. Since the solid-liquid waste was collecting in the stream and nearby dumping sites, several diseases were spreading in the village due to the stink raised from the heap of waste. It was resulting in soil contamination, water pollution and mosquito breeding.
However, the collective efforts of villagers with the help of funds raised under government schemes like Jal Jeevan Mission, Swachch Bharat Mission and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act turned the village into the waste free and water sufficient. In 2020-21 survey was conducted in the village and the panchayat committee with village head came up with solutions for sanitation and water management.
Two huge water tanks were built in the village to store rain water and rainwater harvesting system was installed to conserve water. After resolving the water scarcity issue the villagers constructed household soakpits for managing waste water from kitchen, bathroom and toilets. Now almost every household in the village has toilets connected to septic tanks, built under Swachh Bharat mission.
Mission Pani, an initiative by News18 and Harpic India, aims to create awareness about water conservation, safe sanitation and hygiene. For more information log on to: https://www.news18.com/mission-paani/
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