India Interior

Where governance is a way of life

Usha Rai | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 19, 2017

Clean in the bargain: Soon to turn organic, Tadipatri’s fruit and vegetable market is a garbage-free zone - Photo: Usha Rai

Garbage collection and segragation

Smart cities could learn from Tadipatri’s model municipality

The Tadipatri municipality in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh is a small but ideal civic body that others in the country could emulate. In 2015, it was declared the State’s best municipality. All roads, including bylanes and cycle tracks, in this 7.5 sq km region are cemented and an underground drainage system is in place.

With a population of 1.2 lakh, the municipality is spotlessly clean, and there are no signs of garbage, plastic bags, dirty puddles of stagnant water or stray pigs anywhere. All houses, public toilets and shops are connected to the underground drainage system, which empties 5 km outside the city limits, where the wastewater is treated for reuse.

The modernisation of Tadipatri began almost two decades ago, mainly due to the efforts of the area’s current MP and MLA, the two brothers JC Diwakar Reddy and Prabhakar Reddy, respectively. The latter was chairman of the local municipal body for several consecutive terms and both brothers took on the responsibility of developing the area on par with some of the finest cities they had visited overseas as businessmen.

When needed, they invested personal money and sought donations from local business houses to provide mid-day meals to schoolchildren, build bus shelters and construct homes for the destitute.

A battery of awards

The municipality’s centrally air-conditioned office is impressive and proudly displays an array of trophies won over the years, including the Green Leaf Award 2015, the JCB Clean Earth Award 2015 for solid waste management and the Clean India Award 2015 for environment conservation and preservation. In 2016, Tadipatri was declared open-defecation free.

Since 2006 there has been a complete ban on plastic bags, plates, cups and glasses — every shopkeeper and resident adheres to this. Even chai shops and wayside eateries are spotless. The successful implementation of the plastic ban has found mention in an intermediate-level textbook on environment education. This year the municipality’s feat entered the Limca Book of Records.

In the early years of the clean-up drive, it is said the junior Reddy would practise Gandhigiri, shaming people by picking up their litter at teashops. He even had an ATM closed for littering the place with receipt slips.

The municipality’s current chairperson is a woman, B Venkata Lakshmi, and 18 of the 34 corporators are women. A biometric attendance system and CCTV cameras ensure accountability and transparency. The importance given to cleanliness is reflected in the wages of the sanitation staff. Starting at ₹20,000, a sweeper’s monthly salary goes up to ₹50,000, says Lakshmi.

Tadipatri has not reported a single case of malaria for the past three years. The authorities regularly spray drains with oil and introduce gambusia (larvae-eating fish) in water ponds. A dustbin and a tree, protected by a tree guard, are mandatory outside every shop. It is a sheer joy to walk around the fruit and vegetable market. There are dustbins everywhere and a vehicle arrives every evening to cart away the day’s garbage and segregate it. Shopkeepers who sell artificially ripened fruits are fined as Tadipatri moves towards becoming organic.

Waste is valuable

Waste fruits and vegetables are given to piggeries and other animal shelters. Wet garbage goes for composting. The town is divided into high-, medium- and low-waste zones. There is door-to-door garbage collection at fixed times, for which each of the 25,997 households pays ₹40 a month, earning the civic body ₹96 lakh annually. It gets another ₹8 lakh for garbage collection from commercial establishments. The recycled garbage is sold as organic compost for ₹46 lakh. Nine million litres per day (MLD) of liquid waste brought by the underground drains is treated and supplied to nearby industries. This fetches the municipality an additional ₹1.36 crore.

Under the Swachh Bharat programme, 3,972 household toilets and over 10 community toilets were constructed in Tadipatri. The municipal council fines ₹500 for open defecation and ₹100 for urinating in public. Repeat offenders face disconnection of water and electricity supply to their homes.

There is no wastage of any kind in this ideal municipality. The excess food at marriages is collected and distributed to the poor. If the quality is not good it is sent to the piggeries. Since 2002, mid-day meals are being cooked at a central place and distributed through vehicles to all the 28 municipal schools. There is purified water at low cost for all citizens; free notebooks for poor students; used clothes are collected, washed, repaired and distributed among the poor. Talented students get financial support.

At the office of this high-achieving municipality, the national flag flutters proudly on a rather innovatively designed pole — the flag can be unfurled with the push of an electronic button.

The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi

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Published on May 19, 2017
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