Waste management was the first part of the Sustainable Development Program in Anandam
Seeing Madhu’s persistence and her steadfast commitment to Waste Management, that turned Anandam into a cleaner place , the Management started to appreciate and support the idea of Anandam going green in a Sustainable Development Program . They finally understood the concept a Green Anandam . A Green Retirement Village, probably the first of its kind in India. A green Anandam with an USP, unique selling proposition, made business sense.
Ramesh Harve, a fellow resident who was an expert on developing similar projects all over the world, agreed to stay on the project as a consultant. Ramesh Harve, Madhu Roy and Bhanu Gopalkrishnan chalked out a program of Sustainable Development, in which development would happen in carefully well thought out stages.
Sustainable Development would span the phases, in a way that we would look after our needs in the here and now and not eat into the resources of tomorrow or future generations. They set SOPs on a staggered time frame, to provide all the raw materials, to bring about an ecologically friendly Green Cool Anandam, planting sensibly with season and crop in mind.
The food waste after sorting, was used in composting. The end product of composting was natural organic manure, brown gold, for the Tree planting campaign that The ECO group initiated. Most of the trees were low maintenance Indigenous Trees. The compost would also be also used, as manure, to fertilise the organic vegetable garden they started, to grow healthy organic vegetables. The same organic vegetables that informed city dwellers in a Metro buy, at a premium, from Elite Departmental Stores.
The compost site was not a traditional open hole that swallowed food waste and cow dung indiscriminately to decompose into organic manure. The composting was done in a novel, aerobic way , exposed to sunshine and air, a brainchild of Ramesh Harve. This method, which involved the layering and turning eliminated any unpleasant odour that attract flies.
When I finally agreed to go and see their project, after much persuasion and head banging, I was astounded to see the amount of work the one woman Army and her sole supporter from the ECO team of 21 had done silently and steadfastly waiting for no one to approve or applaud. They just did what had to be done.
The composting happened 30 feet away from the nearest residences in an open tin shed , the erstwhile garage . There was no smell . No flies. Nothing . It did not seem to worry the residents who lived 30 feet near the compost heap, who never complained about any smell or flies. The same residents, however , were agitated at the thought of 3 dwarf cows coming to nest in a cow shed, at the far end of the property, 100 metres from the nearest residence.
I found two heaped mounds of earth that looked like fresh graves. covered with a pretty ground cover of green shoots , they told me was Horse Gram that provided the nitrites required for the composting. The composting mound is alternating layers of food waste, slurry cow dung, fresh twigs, dry twigs, lime and dry leaves, topped with a layer of earth on which horse gram is sown. The heap is turned to churn, at a specific time in a scientific schedule . As long as there is habitation in Anandam there will always be an assured supply of food waste. No problem with the supply of food waste for the compost heap , unlike the cow dung they would need in large quantities in the future.
The ratio of cow dung mixed with the food waste in the compost heap has to be in almost equal proportions. The cow dung needed for the compost heap would only increase with time , to match the rising levels of food waste . Currently the cow dung for the compost heap, is bought from cowherds who mercilessly abuse their flagging, milking cows with injectable Oxytocins to produce more milk. The commercial cow dung is therefore not pure or organic . To be sustainable, the cow dung has to be organic and preferably home grown under supervision in Anandam. The minimum distance that cows can be reared to allow hoof and human to share eco-space, without health hazards is 100 feet.
A cow shed was proposed at the peripheral corner of the property at a spot more than 100 metres away from the residences. The cows that are slated to join the pilot study are the Malnadu Gidda. This particular species is a nondescript dwarf breed of cattle native to the hilly, rainy and densely forested Malnadu region of the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka. It is also known as Uradana and Varshagandhi. This short statured breed of black and brown complexion, is known for their shy temperament, their adaptability and their resistance to disease. The milk and urine of the Manadu Gidda, apparently have medicinal properties.
Unfortunately, the Project has come to a suspended halt, as some uninformed residents who have not understood the benefits of the ECO project, protested with a signature campaign to the Management. who are going to investigate the claims made by the nescient protestors.
The success of The ECO green project picking up momentum again will depend on all the residents understanding the ECO Green project and visiting the site, personally, to dispel their preconceived ideas and unfounded fears that it is a safe and commendable project and hail the Green Anandam we need to work towards, as a Green Legacy for future generations.
Convincing people whose mindset does not allow them to think out of the box, who are not willing to listen to new ideas, or who are not willing to think about a well thought out plan from an expert, a blue print used many times over, the world over, is as frustrating as talking to a wall.
Especially if they will never admit to being wrong.