Shining New Beaches and Streets of Puri
- Bhakti Kothari
- Published on 26 Jan 2021, 1:56 pm IST
- 6 minutes read
The holy city of Puri in Odhisa is receiving a facelift with its shining clean streets and beaches. Several initiatives launched by the city’s previous District Magistrate, Mr. Balwant Singh, have proved to be fruitful in making it a No open waste city
- Coastal Beach Cleaning by pilgrims in Puri
Mr. Balwant Singh IAS Officer of 2007 batch, erstwhile Collector, and District Magistrate Puri led the team with the vision and support of the state government has undertaken many initiatives to make Dham City clean and a destination with a pleasant experience. By involving the community for beach cleaning under the “MoBeach” campaign in the first phase and then City’s cleanliness under the “My Dham, My Pride” campaign in the recent initiative, he is giving face-lift to the city’s landscape which is covered in this first part of his story.
Read more about his work and how he’s helping the government in uplifting and making other’s lives better in his exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds.
When cyclone Fani hit Orissa in 2019, it was declared as the strongest cyclone to hit the Puri coast to date, after which the district came up with the MoBeach campaign. The purpose of this was to clean the beaches and spreading community awareness with the noble thought of controlling pollution, keeping beaches clean, and providing a better experience to visitors while ensuring a clean environment in the city.
“It is a community-driven process where volunteers, with the help of government support, clean the 140 kilometer stretch of beaches in Puri, once a month. We have institutional arrangements with partners in this regard in urban areas, though volunteers’ involvement is spontaneous” said Mr. Singh
The success of the campaign was very encouraging. The administration then planned an International Coastal Cleanup Day on 21st September 2019 where 10,000 people gathered to clean 100 locations at a time. “We raised awareness so that every visitor considers the beach as their own and they stop littering it,” Mr. Singh said.
The Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) granted the prestigious Blue Flag certification to Golden Beach in Puri, besides seven other sea beaches in the country. The Golden Beach is the first beach in the state to get this tag.
MY DHAM, MY PRIDE
It was a structured campaign where everyone, from little kids to elders were involved in keeping their city clean and sanitized, which automatically brought pride in them. It started as a 7-8 day intense program that started with finding a logo for launching for the city’s sanitization. Some 13,000 people participated in an online session to offer different kinds of logos.
Said Mr. Singh, “The finalized logo was named ‘Pride in purity’ and contained five colors representing the five elements of the earth which can be symbolized by a beach, as well where we find all five of them. Sand – Earth; Sea – Water; Sky; Air, and Sun – Fire.”
The campaign involved a lot of activities, including involving people to be a part of the Swatch Dham campaign, launching Kaivalya Rath, a vehicle to dispose of residual mahaprasad properly, and visiting holy water bodies to spread awareness.
An interesting part of the campaign was to make locals sign their resolutions regarding the cleanliness and sanitization of the city. “We launched a vehicle mounted with a wall that flashed three resolutions, namely (1) I will not allow waste to touch holy land (2) I will not use single-use plastic and (3) I will respect sanitation workers. Everybody signed these and the sanitation workers took an oath in front of the Minister to provide better services” Mr. Singh told Indian Masterminds.
The District Administration also interacted with 2,500 leaders from different sectors, picking 100-150 from each sector such as hospitality, law, health institutions, commercial association, street vendors, religious institution heads, Ex-elected representatives, etc., and conducted a total of 15- 16 meetings. Through this, further awareness was spread for keeping the city clean and sanitized.
MAKING PURI NO OPEN WASTE CITY
People and Government officials were sensitized to get waste segregation bins. The idea was to conceptualize ‘no open waste concept’ and today, dustbins have been removed from the city, except for a few tourist locations.
“We tried using individual waste generator bins, which would segregate the waste. We have this decentralized solid waste management system for the past one year in the city, which is now made a mandate of the state government. It is basically shifting from the traditional approach of solid waste management by engaging outsourcing agencies to collect and dump waste instead of scientific waste management” Mr. Singh told Indian Masterminds.
UNIQUE DECENTRALIZED SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The state government has also launched a project where they go for First Community Leadership. It was launched in three components. Under the first component, they appointed a ‘Swatch Saathi’ among every 600 waste generators. These are women who have finished schooling, coming from Self-Help groups, and are paid incentives on the basis of their performance. The officials are responsible for educating their 600 waste generators about segregation, education, not throwing waste on roads, and instead of giving it to vehicles appointed for the purpose.
Under the second component; For 1200 waste generators, one waste vehicle has been provided which contains four components – dry, wet, bio waste, and hazardous waste. It goes door to door and collects waste from houses, at a fixed time.
For the third component, he told “Also, for a group of 3000-4000 households, a micro composting center was established. A proper capacity building has been done for the same and the same people who are going door to door to collect waste, look after this too. The dry waste goes to a material recovery facility where we have engaged recyclers who utilize it in return for revenue. And the wet waste goes for organic composting, which the locals or farmers can buy and use as manure in their backyard, gardens, or in the fields.”
There are about 16 such facilities in Puri, and hundreds of waste vehicles mapping the city. For commercial stores, the facility is given twice in the day, during the opening time and closing time. Sanitation workers are appointed to clean the areas at night, from 3 AM to 6 AM.
Currently posted as the Managing Director of Odisha Mining Corporation, Mr. Balwant Singh has successfully involved most citizens of Puri in the cleanliness drives. And the results are showing!
END OF THE ARTICLE