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After setting a precedent in urban waste management across the country, Sarguja district authorities in Chhattisgarh are now working on extending the model to the rural areas. The sleepy city of Ambikapur, the district headquarters of Sarguja, had set an example by becoming the cleanest city among those with a population of less than 200,000. The Solid Liquid Resource Management (SLRM) method adopted in the city has made all the difference. The women self-help groups (SHGs) engaged in the project have not only made the town waste-free but also generating livelihood for themselves through waste management and recycling. The SLRM model ensures collection of waste from doorstep; its segregation at the centres and use of garbage accordingly. The organic waste is used as compost while the inorganic waste is sold to generate income for the group that also collects money from the residents as the fee. The city is dump free as residents have been availing the service.
The success of the urban project has propelled the authorities to expand the model in the villages.“The SLRM system has already started in two villages and will be extended in 68 others soon,” Anurag Pandey, chief executive officer of Sarguja district panchayat, told Business Standard. The waste management in the village is a step forward to make panchayat self-sufficient in near future, he said, adding that efforts were on to achieve the goal. The earning from the waste management in panchayat is inadequate now following limited quantity of garbage and the villagers’ reservation to pay the collection fee. The money earned from selling the inorganic waste and compost goes to the gram panchayat account. The women working in the project are being paid from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) fund. Once the earning from the garbage increase, the project that is now externally funded will become economically self-sustaining.