Housekeeping in Houseboats
Standing on a houseboat watching the sunrise on the green waters of the Finishing Point at Allapuzha, is a spectacular moment to cherish. It is the same waters in which the famous snake boats compete to win the Nehru Trophy every year. It is the same waters inhabitants along the shore line take a clean dip into to begin their day…
More than 25,000 houseboats cruise these waterways to meet a novel concept of holidaying. The kettuvalloms (houseboats) about 120ft in length involve all the skill and meticulous effort to tie huge planks of jack wood together. Curiously enough, not a single nail is used in the making of the houseboat. These houseboats are comfortably furnished with an open lounge, two or three bedrooms with baths, a kitchen and have an extremely friendly staff of three – a cook, a guide and an oarsman.
On board the 3 Star Cruize, Ashok Kumar, the owner of a fleet of three boats, takes pride in maintaining his teakwood floored kettuvalloms well-equipped and clean at all times. “We instruct visitors about the rules and regulations in advance to ensure that nothing is thrown into the water or littered on board. The caretakers keep a close watch,” he says.
On a daily basis, the floors are cleaned with local detergents & regular disinfectants and ceilings are cleaned with liquid soap. “During the lean season of June and July, the boat is taken up for maintenance when the wooden surfaces are polished and ceilings painted. The polish includes fish oil besides varnish to give it a better finish.
“Yearly audits conducted by officials from Cochin Port check on commodities, maintenance, machine, tanks, rooms, kitchen and other technical aspects of the boats. Twice a year, food inspectors examine the hygiene aspects before issuing certificates and license.”
The kitchen waste generated on the boat is collected in bags and disposed off at the shore from where it is collected by the municipal authorities. “As such there are no designated spots for disposing off kitchen waste. It is dumped in the open.”
The toilets attached to the houseboat are bio-toilets which work on eco-friendly bio-enzyme technology. Vijay Biotech, a Chennai-based company, has supplied bio-tanks to over 20,000 houseboats in Kerala. These tanks which come in various capacities are connected to the toilet and fitted below the houseboat and the treated water is released into the backwaters.
Pune – hub for e-waste!
Pune may be chasing Bangalore as an IT hub, but when it comes to managing the waste generated by the IT firms, it has failed miserably. Even five years after the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) pointed out the menace in a report, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has made no provision to dispose e-waste generated in the city.
The MPCB report had pointed out that the total Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEE) in Maharashtra amounts to 20,270.6 tonnes out of which, Pune contributes 2,584.21 tonnes and Pimpri Chinchwad area contributes 1,032.37 tonnes. Currently, more than 19,000 tonnes of e-waste is generated in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. At present, 40% of the e-waste is collected at PMC’s garbage depot at Uruli Devachi. The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has already started surveying, collecting and getting rid of e-waste. It has even provided a mobile van for the collection of e-waste.
The Central Pollution Control Board has also identified Pune as one of the top 10 cities generating e-waste.
Bio-toilets for houseboats
The bio-tanks, made of non-corrosive stainless steel, are fitted with bio-filters and uses bio-enzymes to treat human waste. It operates in three stages – In the first stage, the human waste collected in the tank is treated with bio-enzymes which eat up all the solid waste. In the second stage, the bio-filters fitted in the tank further purify the wastewater. In the third stage, the treated water is released through an outlet into the backwaters.
“The treated water has been tested and certified by the Allapuzha Pollution Control Board, Thiruvanthapuram Government Laboratory, Chennai Government Laboratory and the Ministry of Environment and Forest, New Delhi,” says M D Vijayakumar, Managing Director of Vijay Group of Companies. “We also have the Non-Toxic Certificate issued by SGS India Ltd, an international certifying company,” he adds.
These bio-toilets are also in operation in the resorts of the Orissa Tourism, Hyderabad Neckless Lake Resorts and Tourist buses of Karnataka. “The railways are developing bio-toilets for the coaches and soon this system will be applied there too.”
The bio-enzyme, Actizyme, is imported from Australia based Maxwell Chemicals Pty Ltd by Vijay Engineering and repacked by Vijay Biotech. This system is applicable to all septic tanks, grease traps, drainage trenches, and drain lines from kitchen sinks, bathrooms, laundry and sewers. “Be it houseboats, buses, trains, fish farms, wastewater treatment plant, paper industry, distilleries, hospital or dairies, this technology offers a perfect solution.”
Crossing the barriers of waste
In an attempt to create eco-conscious citizens, RUR, a Mumbai-based NGO recently conducted a workshop on ‘Green Living’.The workshop conducted by two volunteers, Monisha Narke and Sejal Kshirsagar, focused on important topics like home composting and organic paper making. Like minded people from different fields and work backgrounds, including housewives and children who believed in cleanliness and hygiene attended the workshop.
During the interactive session, Clean India Journal joined the discussion on ways and practices to reduce the amount of waste generated by individuals and families. Sharing her experience, Monisha Narke, one of the founders of RUR, revealed that there are seven grades of plastics and tones of plastic is being sorted at Dharavi. It is then incinerated, which releases a lot of toxic gases polluting the environment. According to WHO, 2.4 million people die every year due to pollution.
In general, retail outlets produce 900kg of wet waste and 200kg of dry waste every week. In an initiative to reduce waste, Sahakari Bhandar, a leading retail outlet gives its customers free eco friendly books in exchange for used tetra packs.
On a daily basis, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation spends `300 million per day for collection and disposal of waste. About 6,500 tonnes of solid waste generated in the city every day is carried by over 980 municipal and private vehicles making 1400 trips to the dumping grounds.
Monisha Narke emphasized that “Waste management should start at the home level. On a priority, training should be extended to the domestic helpers at home. ‘Cleanliness is contagious’ and needs to be curbed.”
Emphasising the importance and concerted efforts required to tide over the waste issues, the entrance to the workshop sported a maze of waste created by schoolchildren. The strings of plastic ropes stapled with waste creatively formed a zigzag pattern, made the way up the stairs to the workshop rather difficult. “The motive behind this was to make people aware that to reach a clean and healthy environment we have to cross the barrier of wastes,” said Monisha.