District Waste Management, a People’s Movement


In Cooch Behar district in India, near the India-Bangladesh border, workers have gathered at a waste management unit to collect household waste which is then used to make organic fertilizer. The district became the first in North Bengal to be declared open defecation-free in 2017 and received a national award in 2020 for its cleanliness efforts. To maintain this status, the district administration started the “Mission Nirmal Cooch Behar” initiative with the goal of improving waste management in villages. This has led to the construction of 16 waste management units and plans for 18 more, as well as the building of soak pits and covered drains for liquid waste management. The district has also taken measures for greywater management through government programs and grants. A local resident, Sangita Roy, helps to monitor the community and prevent open defecation.

Cooch Behar District Magistrate Pawan Kadyan said, ‘Mission Nirmal Cooch Behar has now moved on to the second phase. The focus is on improving solid waste management, starting the practice of plastic waste management (PWM) in rural areas and doing liquid waste greywater management. We have built more than 1,000 community sanitary complexes (CSCs) across the district in a year. We have covered all marketplaces, public places, gram panchayats and rural areas. We have also focused on menstrual health management by providing biodegradable sanitary napkins, under the brand name Bandhabi, that are made by local SHGs and given to students in schools.’

‘We are the first district to set up a PWM unit in the state. Another PWM unit is under construction and three others are in the pipeline. Producing vermicompost is another component of solid waste management,’ said Kadyan.

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