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In November 2012, as a part of its Clean Home, Clean City programme, the Alappuzha municipality in Kerala began setting up biogas plants and pipe compost units in homes and aerobic composting units in public spaces for biodegradable waste from households and commercial establishments which did not have biogas plants. Simultaneously it set up surveillance cameras across the city, linked to the police control room, to catch those littering public spaces. In 22 months, the municipality was able to save the daily run of the 40 to 50 truckloads of garbage to the dumping yards, saving the municipality Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 every day on fuel alone.
The clean-up operation began as a pilot project in one of the municipality’s 52 wards. Biogas plants both portable and fixed were installed in each house with 50 per cent subsidy from the government. Households which could not install one in their homes because of finance or space constraints could deposit their domestic waste in their neighbours. Those who could not afford biogas plants could opt for pipe composting which involved two pipes going into a pit where waste was collected and treated. Each aerobic unit had two bins where 2,000 kg of waste could be processed and converted to fertilizer within 90 days. Students were told to collect plastic waste from their homes and at school they could exchange it for book coupons worth Rs 20 for each kg of plastic waste.
With 2,500 biogas plants, 4,000 pipe composting units and 75 aerobic bin units, Alappuzha is waiting to declare itself garbage free!