Green metamorphosis: Kerala wins world record for greening waste dumps

Thanks to a dedicated team of youngsters, garbage heaps in the state are turning to lush green spaces.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Mar 16, 2024 | 1:00 PMUpdatedMar 16, 2024 | 1:00 PM

A spot that was once a garbage dump. (Supplied)

Never before had the state found beauty in garbage heaps. An initiative implemented with youthful vigour has converted many garbage heaps — once stinking, eyesores — into green spaces teeming with life and vitality in Kerala.

Thanks to the Philippines-based World Records Union, the state’s concerted efforts in transforming wayside waste dumping spots into vibrant green spaces have now grabbed international attention.

The Snehaaramam (Garden of Love) initiative is transforming wayside waste dumping spots into pockets of greenery.

An initiative of the State National Service Scheme (NSS) under the Higher Education Department, Snehaaramam is being implemented with the help of the Suchitwa Mission, which gives technical and managerial support to local bodies in waste management.

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World Record: 3k green spaces in one year

The Union on its website highlighted that Kerala will now hold the world record for having “most rubbish dump sites converted to green public use destinations in a single year”.

The green metamorphosis. (Supplied)

The green metamorphosis. (Supplied)

A citation handed over by the Union’s representative to state Higher Education Minister R Bindu on Thursday read: “The Higher Education Department, in collaboration with the National Service Scheme (State Cell) and the Suchitha Mission of Kerala State, India, set the record for the most rubbish dump sites converted to green public use destinations in a single year is 3000 as confirmed on March 13, 2024. This exercise was carried out as part of the “SNEHAARAMAM” effort throughout the state of Kerala (India).”

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Youth power

Speaking to South First, state NSS officer Dr Anzer RN said that the young generation was spearheading the initiative.

“The young generation has a vital role to play in building a sustainable future. The Snehaaramam programme has helped them develop a mindset in leading the way towards a cleaner and greener future for Kerala,” Anzer said.

He said 3,500 NSS units spread across the state, helped in developing the 3,000 green spots.

“They undertook this programme as part of the Waste Free campaign (launched as part of the Nava Keralam initiative). The consent and support of respective local bodies were also ensured for the initiative,” Anzer added.

The NSS volunteers, after removing the waste dumped at these spots, converted them into vibrant urban oases.

“They set up vertical gardens, installations, resting arrangements, wall paintings, and others to make such spots attractive. The local bodies also helped them in the initiatives,” Anzer said, adding that the NSS would “definitely” continue the programme.

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A red flag

Though officials applauded the programme’s success and global recognition, some NSS programme coordinators have voiced concern over maintaining the momentum.

The beginning of a clean transformation. (Supplied)

The beginning of a clean transformation. (Supplied)

“The success of initiatives like these depends much on the support we get from local bodies as well as other departments. Unfortunately, we are not getting the same in some places,” a coordinator, requesting anonymity, told South First.

The co-ordinator then cited one such incident.

“At one of the green spaces we created at Thiruvananthapuram, the NSS volunteers were facing difficulties in upkeeping the plants. It’s because there is no source to water them. We approached the authorities concerned. They are yet to act. Now, the volunteers either bring water from their homes or procure it from nearby sources,” he pointed out.

The Sneharamam programme was launched in October last. An official statement said that the Suchitwa Mission would provide ₹5,000 for the setting-up of each unit. An amount of ₹1.5 crore was also earmarked for this purpose. It was also stated that additional funds, if necessary, could be sourced locally, including through sponsorships.

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Why dumping waste?

According to the Local Self-Government Department, dumping of garbage in public spaces could be due to multiple reasons, including lack of proper facilities, inaccessibility and overburdening of existing facilities, lack of awareness about proper facilities available, and ignorance of health hazards that could improper waste disposal could cause.

The department, however, added that due to the enforcement of good waste management practices and stringent actions against illegal dumping of waste, the number of such garbage heaps has decreased.

Edited by Majnu Babu.