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Street Leaf litter – A local solution converts pollutant to asset

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While Namma Bengaluru has been losing a lot of its green cover, Koramangala, fortunately still retains some greenery providing shade and filtering us from some of the air pollutants.   However, the green cover does increase the work load on our Pourakarmikas during the leaf shedding months of January to April.
The fallen leaves along with the garbage strewn on our streets are swept daily by the Pourakarmikas and collected as a pile in different street corners. Given the limited waste management infrastructure these leaf piles stay on street corners till they are picked up.  There is a bottleneck at this point, as this sudden increase in the volume of garbage generated requires a bigger vehicle to transport the garbage to the landfill.  Hence the street garbage piles are picked up only when there is spare load carrying capacity in the garbage trucks.
Sadly while this leaf pile is on the street, it quickly degenerates to become garbage piles as regular household waste and sundry waste (plastic packets, cigarette packets etc…) from the general public is thrown on it.  What makes this horrible sight even worse is when someone burns this garbage pile.  Sadly, many people believe that burning garbage is a good way of clearing garbage ! The toxic pollutants emitted from this burning pile is obviously of no concern.
Even when the system works as expected, this pile of leaf litter if picked up by auto’s and then transferred to a larger garbage pickup truck.  Now this leaf litter is then mixed with the regular garbage.  This combined waste is transported some 70-80 kilometers outside the city.  Just think of the transportation cost in this exercise.  Given the limited processing done in these landfills, our leaf litter which is now mixed with the full range of waste product (kitchen waste, plastic, electronic waste, paper ) becomes a deadly toxic cocktail.  This toxic mix enters our environment, either as leachate which gets into our ground water and into our food cycle, or as an air pollutant when this garbage is burnt.
Is there no alternative to this scary reality?  Yes, there is a simple solution.  The humus content in the leaf litter is very useful in enriching our soil if properly mulched and composted.  Composting the leaf litter locally wherever possible will reduce huge transportation costs, as well as the probability of burning leaf and increasing air pollution.
Within Koramangala, there is one facility for processing leaf litter.  This composting facility which was started in 2013 is located on 12th main Koramangala, behind the 3rd block post office.  The street leaf litter from the neigbourhood is brought to this unit.  At the unit, a rotary sieve is used to remove all garbage (plastic, twigs, stones etc..).  This pure leaf mulch is then mixed with a cow-dung slurry to improve quality of the compost. The unit processed nearly one tonne of leaf litter every day in 2015.  A typical auto load weighs about 200Kgs, hence 5 auto loads is equal to one tonne of leaf litter.
Imagine what this translates to in terms of reduced air pollution, reduced transportation costs, and greater efficiency in allocating resources for cleaning our neighbourhood locally !
The financial viability of this unit however depends on the sale of the compost which is generated.  “Kora3B compost” as the produce from this unit is now popularly known, has become the credible high quality brand among Bengaluru’s gardening community.  However, the unit generates more compost than it has been able to market.
Residents of Koramangala can support this venture by visiting the facility and understanding what is being done.  It also helps if you buy our compost which is very reasonably priced at Rs 8/Kg (fine grain) and Rs 4/Kg (coarse grain).  You can make online requests for the same at – http://kora3bcompost.strikingly.com/ or call 7022358470 to order the compost.

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