Dimapur is one of the oldest mini cities in North-East India. Apart from being the corridor of the Act East policy, the mini city is the main commercial hub of Nagaland and other North-Eastern States, mainly Manipur. Dimapur alone caters to a population of 122,834 out the whole district population of 378,811. The city is also called “mini India” for its diversity.

Because of rapid population growth and the fact that it is a commercial bub, the city has had to bear the burden of huge urban waste.

A year ago, the Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) launched a massive “Better Dimapur” – a waste management drive across the city with the slogan “cleaner, greener, and a healthy Dimapur.”

The initiative, under the umbrella of “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, was started in June 2018 with the main aim of improving sanitation, environment and health and instilling in its residents civic responsibility.

According to a survey by the Municipal Council, Dimapur city generates 111.12 tonnes of waste every day. The current waste management system comprises collection, transportation, and disposal. The collection is done door to door and through market area collection. The city has around 90 residential colonies spread across 23 wards.

A major change was noticed within a year — not only in terms of waste and waste management but also the outlook and attitude of the general population. Not only was waste monitored but also many street corners once filled with piles of waste and filth have been turned into beautiful recreational and public spaces.

The then Municipal Council Administrator, Moa Sangtam, the brain behind the “Better Dimapur” project, emphasises that “this initiative will not be possible without community participation.” Sangtam also came up with creative ideas in an attempt to generate maximum community engagement. “We have a ‘cleanest colony’ completion” he says, adding, “this got a huge response”.

Involve the public

Social work is a popular term in the North-East and in Nagaland. The voluntary service of cleaning up the city was carried out with students, youths and local celebrities coming out to give a hand. Sangtam feels that seminars and awareness are not enough, his mantra is ‘involve the public.’

Schools, colleges and student unions too pitched in as also NGOs. Segregating localities, areas and public spaces was done creatively — for instance, a certain student union or local association was given a certain geographic area to adopt and transform it into clean, green and beautiful sites. Youths were involved in painting beautiful roadside and wall graffiti.

Besides activities such as cleaning the streets, creating awareness and plantation drives, the DMC also took up “garbage to gold” — turning kitchen waste into fertiliser. Done at home, by women, it reduces their waste disposal while providing fertiliser for the home garden.

The Dimapur Municipal Council, is now seeing a positive change even in terms of the revenue generated.

Creatively turning street corners and dumpsites into parks and open space for public has not only made the city clean and beautiful but also deterred littering.

But, points out Sangtam, even as the project has injected a sense of civic responsibility, there is a huge challenge. One is the infrastructure, wherein, due to lack of proper drainage system, even a light shower during monsoon would flood the city. Drainage blockage is a common occurrence. Also, collection of waste is one thing but disposal another.

With many dumpsites having become public utility spots, garbage disposal is a challenge. But the Council is working out ways to cross this hurdle.

The writer is a Manipur-based journalist

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