HSR Layout is known to innovate citizen and politician engagement year on year. The local politician here funds special projects every year for his birthday as he sees value in the association. This year for his birthday, MLA Sathish Reddy, has funded a one of its kind Composting Learning Centre – Swachagraha Kalika Kendra.
It is visualised as a live learning centre for all kinds of composting. It houses most home and community composting solutions available in the market today and many DIY composting solutions as well. One of the BBMP Parks in Sector 4 has been developed to make this happen. Championed by HSR Citizen Forum , various citizens, activists and the local BBMP team have taken special interest in the project, toiled physically and worked together to make it happen. The atmosphere in the park for the past couple of months has been of preparing for a family wedding.
The centre was inaugurated by the MLA today in the presence of social activist Tejaswini Ananthkumar (wife of late union minister Sri Ananthkumar), mayor – Smt Gangambike, deputy mayor – Sri Bhadre Gowda and JC of Bommanahalli – Dr Soujanya. Around 300 residents, activists and composting enthusiasts from all over the city joined the celebration.
The centre showcases aerobic composting, anaerobic composting, vermi-composting and bio-gas. It includes models developed by private companies like Shudh Labh, Stonesoup, Soil and Health; models developed by governments like the Tumburmuzhy model that is popular in Aleppey, Kerala, also called the Alleppey Bin. Also a host of DIY composting methods that are low-cost and easily explained. These will be working models. The vendors have trained the volunteers and BBMP workers on the working of each unit installed. Wet waste from the neighbouring homes will be added to each unit with the necessary additives everyday.
The units will be monitored and maintained jointly by BBMP and volunteers, just the way the lane composters installed in HSR last year are being maintained. “We have seen a lot of visitors to the lane composters in the past one year from Hyderabad, Delhi and even China. Many RWAs looking to install composting solutions often end up visiting several different places where the solutions are installed to evaluate the right solution for them. We thought if all solutions are available in one place, it would be easy to evaluate,” says Chitra Praneeth, core member of HSR Citizen Forum, spearheading this initiative.
Apart from just wet waste management, the park showcases Organic Terrace Gardening. Again a few vendors in the space who can help set up terrace/balcony gardens and DIY kitchen garden setup for individual houses and apartment complexes are showcased. Spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, beans, chillies, brinjal and many more vegetable saplings in bloom. The idea is to sell the idea of composting not by showing waste, but by showing what you can do with the compost once ready. With pesticide-laden veggies making headlines everyday, basic greens and vegetables that are easy to grow are showcased. Home-grown spinach in particular looks tender and enticing. “The time I started growing food in my apartment terrace with a few community members, I was hooked to composting,” says BNS Ratnakar, who alongwith other volunteers worked on setting up the growing space in the park.
There are a lot of interesting design elements in the park. Like an arch made out of paint buckets, a worm made out of waste tyres, some painted doors that were found in construction waste, bamboo railings with posters and messaging, windchimes made from bottle caps. “We wanted the park to look beautiful, but being waste warriors, didn’t want to procure fresh material for decoration. With ideas from Foley design team and resourceful Roopesh, we managed to make the best out of waste,” says Dr Shanthi Tummala of HSR Citizen Forum who connected with various citizen groups to get ideas to make the park a one-of-its-kind.
The roofing sheets for home-composting corner are made from upcycled tetrapacks marketed by SAAHAS. Swept dust and construction debris has been used to make the malls of the store room that will be used to store consummables for the composting units. “We were guided by the experts from BIOME, it was very challenging, but we made it happen,” says Roopesh Kumar, the BBMP contractor of waste management for HSR, who has personally taken great interest over the last couple of months to make this project happen.
Two constructions (storage room and Home Composting Booth) both have sloped roof design to collect all water on it’s roof area. This water will be connected to water storage containers to save rain water. Stored rain water will be used for restrooms and plants. Restrooms also will have water saving feature with low flow aerators in taps.
“The rain-water harvesting park in JP Nagar attracts several people everyday and our aim was to do something similar for composting,” says Lalita Mondreti of SWMRT, who has been at the fore-front of the Swachagraha campaign to promote de-centralized composting across Bangalore for the last two years.
“As SWMRT, we have been an ardent advocate of de-centralised composting being the only solution to the garbage woes of the city. Having a centre like this in every other constituency is our dream. Experiencing the energy of HSR volunteers first hand makes us hopeful that composting message will be taken up by every constituency and the local citizen champions,” says Sandya Narayanan of Solid Waste Management Round Table who is the campaign and knowledge partner of this project.
The first sponsor has been Hasiru Dala Innovations who sponsored the designer signages which have been put up in this Learning Centre. This provides a great opportunity for CSR initiatives to sponsor these Learning Centres, which are expected to see a lot of public visitors,and be a part of this information and sustainability initiative.
Above all what shines through in this entire project is the tireless involvement of volunteers. Right from scouting for waste material in Dry waste centre to hosting painting gatherings in their homes, the volunteers have been spending every available second on this project. “The energy of the place was so addictive that I had to keep coming to the park whenever I got time and I would find something to do,” says Jayanthi Srikanth who has been part of HSR Citizen Forum since the plastic ban days.
“Every year the team of HSR Citizen Forum comes up with interesting ideas to popularize the theme of Swachh Bharat amongst residents,” says M Sathish Reddy, MLA of Bommanahalli, the man of the moment, “I was happy to sponsor rinks to compost pooja flowers in temples one year, do a pilot of lane composting last year and am very excited about the Swachagraha Kalika Kendra this year. With such a strong team to visualize and execute the project, I am confident of its success. Last year, HSR Layout came second in Swachh Bharat rankings, I am confident we will top the charts this year.”
The park is open for public at 6am-11am and 4pm to 8pm on all days.
Note: This press note has been shared by the organisers and published here with minimal edits.