NGO plans to introduce native species of flora once soil quality improves

In a little less than a year, the municipal dumpyard in Ottupattari, an eyesore which once blighted the landscape surrounding Coonoor town, has been completely transformed with a one-acre ornamental garden a testament to the changing fortunes of the site.

No longer known as the municipal dumpyard, but as a waste management facility which processes all of the waste generated in Coonoor town, the facility has come to serve as a model as to how an open landfill site can be completely transformed with a proper waste management system in place.

Since last year, the Coonoor municipality, alongside the non-governmental organisation, ‘Clean Coonoor’ which helps in the day-to-day running of the facility, around three acres of the facility has been landscaped, with lawns and an ornamental garden.

P.J. Vasanthan, trustee of Clean Coonoor, said that the spot where the garden and the lawns now stand were once open landfill, with thousands of tonnes of waste, mostly non-biodegradable, festering for many years, not only creating an eyesore, but also serving as a foraging ground for feral dogs and wildlife, which used to visit the site regularly to feed off the scraps in the dumpyard.

“This year, it was difficult to get the plants to grow properly as we had planted them on exposed land with quite intense sunlight. In the coming years, fast-growing trees will take over parts of the garden, ensuring more shade for the flowering plants to grow in,” added Mr. Vasanthan.

Clean Coonoor plans to switch over to using only organic methods to grow the plants and trees in the facility in the coming years, and also begin introducing native species of flora once the quality of the soil recovers and improves.

Aim

Samantha Iyanna, managing trustee of Clean Coonoor, said that the garden would serve to de-stigmatise the waste management facility and how residents think of garbage. “It is our ultimate goal through the garden to change the way people think about waste management and about how people can play a positive role in ensuring that our waste does not make it into ecologically sensitive areas such as forests,” said Ms. Iyanna.

The efforts already seem to be paying off, with residents living around the facility now using the lawns and the gardens as a place to congregate and go for walks during the evenings, municipal officials said, adding that the garden was serving as a positive influence for local communities.

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