Gangtok, 19 Jun:

Students of Nature Club and National Service Scheme of Tashi Namgyal Academy, Gangtok, along with teachers Ms Sujata, Ms Choden, Ms Laden and Mr Parasmani, under the guidance of Zero Waste Himalaya have started the 'Adopt the Ridge' programme that focuses on maintaining cleanliness in the Ridge Park area in the capital.

A press release informs that during their regular visits to the Ridge Park area, it was observed that the major factors contributing to the irresponsible dumping of waste in and around the area were lack of awareness and sensitivity, non availability of public dustbins, snack vendors and their customers dumping their waste below the road, Tsomgo Lake taxis returning and stopping in the area and their drivers and tourists disgorging their accumulated waste on the road side, illegal dumping of household waste into the TNA jhora and the area Safai Karmachari being irresponsible regarding the waste being dumped below the road.

On 20 May, National Service Scheme and the Nature Club members of TNA, with the help of advisors, Ms Sujata and Ms Choden, organized a cleanliness drive from TNA main gate upto White Hall and collected a large volume of waste.

During this drive, students also called on the householders in the locality and requested them not to dump their waste in the TNA jhora. It was observed that the TNA jhora culvert had a badly designed narrow passage which resulted in constant blockages. Members of the club collected more than 75 plastic bottles which were used by the club for recycling into pen stands, toys, etc.

In order to make the TNA students further aware about the extent of Gangtok’s waste issues, 19 students along with Ms Sujata were taken for a visit to the 32 Mile landfill site by Zero Himalaya Coordinator, Khushboo Sharma, accompanied by two volunteers. The visit was part of a programme to take school students to the landfill site to sensitize them on waste issues, TNA being the first of many schools lined up, adds the release.

At the site, the students came face to face with the sheer volume of waste reaching the landfill and the challenges for managing this waste such as the difficulty of segregating mixed waste. They also observed the harsh conditions under which the waste workers had to toil in order to retrieve recyclable waste, a task which society hardly acknowledges.

Looking at the waste situation around Gangtok, the students expressed that they feel more work needs to be done for it to deserve the title of the 'Cleanest City'.