NE states set to ‘green’ examples, keep localities clean post Diwali

Guwahati: From the ‘Waste to Food’ campaign in Assam to the ‘Bring Your Own Bags’ concept in the ‘green’ markets of Nagaland, the Northeast is gearing up for the Festival of Lights with unique ‘eco-friendly’ messages to keep cities and towns spick and span post Diwali.

For instance, Assam has embarked on a distinctive initiative to manage post-Diwali waste under the ‘Swachh Diwali, Shubh Diwali’ campaign, aiming not only to keep cities and towns clean but also to optimise waste utilisation.

In this regard, the state has embraced the 3-Rs principle (reduce, reuse, recycle) to transform ‘waste to food.’

An RRR centre in Dimapur.

Traditionally, during Diwali in Assam, people light earthen lamps on banana trees and leaves at the entrances of residential and commercial establishments. However, the stems of the banana trees used on Diwali night become unused the next day.

To ensure that these banana tree stems are put to good use and eliminate waste post-Diwali, the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban team in Assam has devised a special plan—a simple waste management process adopted by urban local bodies.

An official statement explains, “The banana trees, stems, and leaves left unused after the traditional Diwali celebrations will be handed over to the national parks around urban local bodies for use as fodder for elephants.”

Initiatives taken in Assam under the ‘waste to food’ campaign.

“In areas without national parks nearby, citizens will cut the banana trees into small pieces and hand them over to urban local bodies for disposal. Municipal staff will then deliver the stems of these trees to cow shelters or ‘waste to compost’ pits located centrally,” it further explains.

Currently, 104 central compost pits and over 6,000 domestic composting pits have been arranged at various places to manage such waste.

Notably, the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, is conducting the ‘Swachh Diwali, Shubh Diwali’ campaign nationwide.

Cities are also focusing on celebrating an eco-friendly Diwali by signing up for the ‘Swachh Diwali’ signature campaign, pledging to use locally-made products, donating unused, old items to the RRR centers, and adopting eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic.

Plants on pots arranged in front of a shop in Nagaland.

Since the launch of the ‘Swachh Diwali Shubh Diwali’ campaign by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Nagaland, like other states, is actively promoting awareness for an eco-friendly Diwali this year.

Beyond individual households, the spirit of cleanliness during Diwali extends to the entire community, with collective efforts ensuring cleanliness in markets and neighbourhoods, fostering a festive ambiance.

In alignment with this, the Tuensang Town Council in Nagaland has launched a novel initiative, directing all market shopkeepers to place a green plant near their entrances, symbolising a commitment to a clean and green Diwali.

“This thoughtful approach not only contributes to environmental awareness but also encourages shared responsibility for a sustainable and joyous festival season,” an official said.

Furthermore, in a concerted effort to curb single-use plastic usage this Diwali, Nagaland’s markets are championing the ‘Bring Your Own Bag’ concept. Leading this charge, the Mangkolemba Town Council has mandated that shops refrain from offering any form of carry bags, including paper bags.

A poster on a wall sends a message for consumers in Nagaland to carry own bags to take home the purchased goods.

Instead, consumers are actively encouraged and directed to bring their own bags when shopping. “This strategic move aims to reduce plastic waste and instill a culture of environmental responsibility, emphasising the importance of personal contributions to sustainable practices in daily life. It reflects a community-driven commitment to fostering eco-friendly habits and minimising the environmental impact of retail activities,” the official said.

Furthermore, the Medziphema Town Council has introduced the ‘RRR – With Incentive’ program.

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This initiative encourages people to use the RRR facility, promoting waste segregation and the concept of turning waste into wealth.

“To generate maximum participation, the town is issuing coupons for those bringing their waste to designated centers, offering rewards such as saplings, ice creams, chocolates, and other items from various stores within Medziphema town, thereby reinforcing positive environmental practices.

It’s worth mentioning that Dimapur Municipal Council and Chumukedima Town Council in Nagaland have collaborated with Reliance Trends to reward the top-performing ‘Safai Mitras’ in the region with gift coupons.

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