When UNICEF offered assistance for Srinagar sanitation
WE THE Srinagarites
A LOW COST, ECO-FRIENDLY PROJECT ON SOAKAGE PIT CONSTRUCTION WAS STARTED IN THE CITY IN MID ‘80S ONLY TO BE SHELVED AFTER A FEW YEARS. FORMER CHIEF ENGINEER PWD, MUHAMMAD ASHRAF FAZILI RECALLS
Some two-and-a half decades ago, UNICEF came to assist us in the formulation of a low cost sanitation scheme for Srinagar City. A project of a few crores was approved and funds released. The project started by UEED in 1984-85 was later on handed over to SMC for onward implementation.
Two typical areas on the left bank of river Jhelum and Bagwan Pora-Nigeen fringe were targeted at the initial stage, which was to cover the entire state subsequently. This arrangement would save lakhs of rupees needed for providing sanitary fitting, where your soakage-pit gets saturated and backflow becomes a menace.
No heavy fittings were needed. Two pits each one meter deep, one meter dia close by with a common brick drain with naked soil at the base were to be made. Besides, a single brick wall around the pit with honey combing work on three fourth’s surface was to be done to allow absorption of the controlled water to be used for washing. A water seal of three-four inch or so fixed to a fibre glass commode specially designed for this type of latrine were to be put to place.
Each pit was to be used alternatively for about three years and allowing a rest of one year with opening of the other pit. You get a powdered smell-less compost suitable for kitchen garden. People who follow the instructions have benefited with this.
This method has worked well in all other states of India and has spread to 21 UNDP countries for which its creator, Mr Pathak has made lot of inputs and has received many national and International awards.
But in Srinagar, perhaps due to turmoil or mental bankruptcy from top to bottom not much encouragement has been given to such schemes. Perhaps the public participation is lacking.
Sometimes the schemes need to be introduced with a strong campaign and once people come to know its advantages it sells like the way Gas Stoves did after earlier rejection due to fears that it may cause a blast or fire. I remember when I myself brought the gas stove for Rs.150 and within a few months its prices shot up to Rs 3000 and it was rarely available.
It needs to be investigated as to where this scheme has got stuck and how could it be revived as it is useful in saving environment, saving public exchequer, repaying the input in the form of compost useful for kitchen garden.
Similar such schemes that have met premature death include: Construction of Mechanical Solid Waste Compost Plant in Greater Srinagar City. Project report completed in 1984-85, recommendations handed over by UEED to SMC which implemented it only partly for sanitary landfill and ignored the construction of the mechanical compost plant scheduled within the next 5 years.
The Central Govt used to provide 50% subsidy on the end product to the farmers, besides providing financial assistance for the establishment of the compost plant. The other such schemes on the death bed are: Inland water transport on river Jhelum from Pampore to Chattabal Srinagar-27 kms, which could extend to Khannabal on south and to Varmul on north/east.
This would give a boon to the trade, employment, tourism, transport etc. Whenever such projects come for discussion many mischief mongers jump in only to confuse everybody for the sake of it making lame excuses like: why this idea from a person A and not from a person B, we have already thought about this and even worked on it….
Are we not living in an age of computers and internet. With the press of a click you can know where and how such projects are functioning and since how long.
The present menace of starting drainage excavation from somewhere in between has never been heard of. The proper procedure is that a drain must start from the tail-end, and then proceed to head. The present hotch-potch system has never been heard of and that too when public has to face all odds.
Previously a signboard would be installed indicating the agency and the department at work. Now both remain hidden for obvious reasons. Is there any officer who overlooks all these issues? When the rulers feel that every thing is going on normally, but there is no contact between the common man and the state.
Er Muhammad Ashraf Fazili, BE Hons.
(The author is CEng(I),FIE,MIRC,MASCE, Former Chief Engineer PWD J&K Govt, Ex. Hon. Secretary Institution of Engineers India, J&K State Centre Srinagar. The ideas expressed are his own)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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