From a landfill flowing into a river to a green space with zero waste: A success story of the queen of hills

Mussoorie leads the way in showing how a vision, a will and an empowered community can make all the difference and build an inclusive, contextualised and resilient model of plastic waste management in tourist cities of India

A vision and a will to implement it has no limits and this has been exemplified by the cleaning up of Mussoorie's Gadi Khaana landfill which dated back to colonial times. This was accomplished by Hilldari’s efforts which took up the cleaning up the landfill that had become threatening to Mussorie’s citizens as well as the ecology around. This is in line with Hilldaari’s previous attempts to make Mussoorie the cleanest town in India.

The colonial era landfill that would hold of more than 10,000 metric tonnes of solid waste had become threatening for Mussoorie’s tourism and health of its people as it waste from it would slide down into a nearby river from which water was being supplied to all of the Mussoorie. Also, the Aglar river being an important tributary of Yamuna  would further add to Yamuna’s pollution as well.

The landfill has been cleaned up using tech based solid waste management techniques, training waste handlers and using QR codes to track waste. To accomplish this, Hilldaari began to treat waste at source by motivating people to segregate waste into dry waste and wet waste. The wet waste was then being sent to Dehradun for treatment and dry waste being processed with the help of another local partner. 36% of the waste was thus processed. Doors of inhabitants were digitally marked and QR codes were used to track waste. This also promoted behavioural changes and led to further reduction in the waste generation and made segregation easier.

Project Hilldaari, supported by Nestlé India, implemented by Stree Mukti Sangathan with tech support from Recity Network Pvt. Ltd. is on a mission to build inclusive, contextualised and resilient models of plastic waste management in tourist cities of India. Currently operational in 6 cities (Mussoorie, Nainital, Dalhousie, Mahabaleshwar, Ponda and Munnar), the project has reached out to 35976 residents educating them on the importance of waste segregation and no-littering behaviour in last three years. Project Hilldaari is also professionalising 546 waste workers across cities, enabling urban local bodies to provide efficient collection services and achieving real-time visibility and transparency in their daily operations through technology interventions. This also includes about 200 wasteworkers in Mussoorie that have been professionalized.

The colonial overflowing Gadi Khan landfill which could be even seen from Zero Point and Library Chowk had not only become an eyesore for the tourists visiting but had also begun to impact the health of Mussoorie's inhabitants. The landfill was overflowing to such an extent that its garbage had begun to slide down into the nearby river leaving it polluted.

“I have my hotel near the Gadi Khan landfill and we would not even open then windows to that side as it would stink. Today it feels as if a fresh lease of life has been breathed into our hotels,” said a hotel owner who owned a hotel that was located near to the landfill.

“We are on a mission to establish Mussoorie as a mode for SWM. Very soon it will be the cleanest town in India,” said Arjun Gupta, Chairperson Hilldaari.

Neha Sasikumar, Deputy Manager, Hilldaari said,  “It was not just about Aglar river which is the source of all the water for Mussroie but is also a key tributary to Yamuna. The Gadi Khan a landfill thus had much more harsher impact on our ecosystem that what we can imagine

I am proud of the change we have been able to usher in and can confidently claim that it was possible only because all of us came together towards our Zimmadari (responsibility) towards the environment. The credit goes to the people of Mussoorie.”

Anuj Gupta, the chairman of Mussoorie Nagar Palika Parishad, said, “With the help of Hilldari’s focus on technology, we were able to see how much waste is generated by our town and were able to map it. This was a transformational way of dealing with waste and we only are planning to continue the efforts.”

By implementing techniques like processing waste with the help of local partners and focusing on capacity building of local municipal bodies, training waste pickers and professionalising waste collection, Hilldaari has developed sustainable & self-sufficient models of solid waste management, thus paving the way for a cleaner and better India

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