Simple brick tank composting

No underground pits, no fancy or complex organic digesters or converters. Sierra Towers uses a strip of simple brick tanks built along the wall at the far corner of the apartment compound for composting. Located in Lokhandwala, Kandivali East, Mumbai, Sierra Towers, houses 250 families, and these compost tanks have been adequate to hold the wet waste of all the households.

Compost tanks
Compost tanks at Sierra Towers, Jan 2016

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Terrace composting

It has been a few years, more than five actually, since we tried composting on the terrace at Brigade Millennium Mayflower Block. Though this very successful pilot experiment has been written about here, I realised that the process has not been properly documented, so here goes!

The objective was to reduce the waste that went out of the 250-flat apartment block. The solution for wet waste was quite obvious, on-site composting.

Those of us from the apartment block who got involved with the project did quite a bit of research to arrive at a sensible, scalable model keeping in mind the existing infrastructure and constraints in the block. We visited a few working sites, read about various methods and engaged with waste management experts and service providers. With the help and guidance of Mr C. Srinivasan, a member of the Supreme Court of India’s Committee on Solid Waste Management, we decided on a method that overcame the lack of space on the ground. The terrace on the 15th floor was identified as a suitable location. Apart from a trolley that was specifically designed for the purpose, the method uses only natural resources – air, water, sunshine, manpower and bacteria present in cowdung/curd.

The trolley
4 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft. Fabricated with metal flats. Fitted with wheels for portability. Cost in 2010 – approx Rs 4,500.

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Open letter to Karnataka CM regarding occupancy certificates

Respected Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,

I was delighted to read yesterday’s newspaper report in The Times of India (Only 97 city high-rises have occupancy certificates) that said that your government would “take suitable action against builders who flout the building bye-laws”. As you have rightly said, those who have violated the laws need to be punished, but while this is being done, steps need to be taken to prevent this violation from happening in the first place.

It is distressing to note that “only 97 high-rise buildings in the city have obtained OCs between 2009 and 2014”. This means that there are hundreds of apartments in Bengaluru that are occupied without having been issued the occupancy certificate. This is done not without the knowledge of the BBMP because many of them pay property tax, and this is in total violation of Section 5.7 of the Bangalore Municipal Building Bye-laws, 2003, as below:

“No person shall occupy or allow any other person to occupy any new building or part of a new building for any purpose whatsoever until occupancy certificate to such buildings or part thereof has been granted by an officer authorised to give such certificate if in his opinion in every respect the building is completed according to the sanctioned plans and fit for the use for which it is erected. The Authority may in exceptional cases (after recording reasons) allow partial occupancy for different floors of a building.”

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