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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Anu Chawla: Harbinger of eco-consciousness in Panchkula

“The concept of waste segregation, organic farming and home-manufactured manure had started coming up in every conversation I had and I realised how important it was to take care of your own waste and thus, I became keen on doing it,” she says.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula | Published: November 11, 2019 1:29:44 am
Anu Chawla, eco-friendly products, eco-friendly products Panchkula, Panchkula news, Indian Express Anu Chawla (Express Photo)

Over one and a half years ago, Panchkula resident, Anu Chawla took it upon herself to introduce the importance and merits of composting waste to the residents of the district.

Daughter of a farmer, Anu always knew the methods of composting, however, had forgotten about it until a friend of hers re-introduced it to her and she decided to start the endeavour of spreading awareness about it in Panchkula, becoming its pioneer in the city.

“The concept of waste segregation, organic farming and home-manufactured manure had started coming up in every conversation I had and I realised how important it was to take care of your own waste and thus, I became keen on doing it,” she says.

After experimenting, Googling, You-Tubing and researching about methods, Anu finally adopted the process of composting her waste and with that, she also made up her mind to spread this knowledge to others. However, it wasn’t easy, she sighs. “It was difficult to convince people to start composting at their homes. Most of them did not think that it was even an option for them and thought it to be something beneath them. They complained that the decomposition would produce harmful gases and odor, I really tried hard to bust those myths.”

She herself uses eco-friendly terracotta containers for composting, which are odourless and easily available in the market, and since the waste is aerobic compost, it does not release any harmful gases.

“There are so many ways people can do this, though, I find this one to be the best,” she shares. They can be placed in layers, on top of each other, in the form of a ‘khamba’ so they occupy less space in urban households. The speed of breakdown is further increased by adding a layering mix and microbes to the waste. The new-fertile soil gets ready within a span of three to four weeks. “Mitti se, mitti mai,” Anu believes.

Initially, she herself used to convince institutions and individuals to let her deliver talk about composting and explain its ease and benefits. “I used to go to parks and teach people. I approached so many schools to give lectures and that is where it began,” she says.

“CL DAV, Gururkul Global and Bhawans became the first few schools I held sessions at, with teachers, students and staff. Eventually, people started approaching me to teach them about composting.”

Anu is a full time ‘freelance- waste management consultant’ now, wherein she offers her services, at a fair price, to anybody interested in getting their waste managed at the household or institutional level. Her most recent project includes composting at Sector 10 Hotel, Western Court in Panchkula.

She has also closely worked with the Panchkula Municipal Corporation, where taught institutions like Red Bishop to manage their waste.

MC Commissioner, Rajesh Jogpal says, “When we heard about her work, we contacted her and asked her to do a few demonstrations with us. We liked her work and even referred her to people and organisations. Though there are many others who are doing this work now, she does it with her heart and has also extended her services free of cost a number of times.”

She does not only specialise in treating wet-waste, but also garden waste. She says, “One’s waste is their own responsibility. Management of waste is important, especially in today’s time where landfills have been converted into mountains. If we look at the waste we generate, almost 70 per cent of it is kitchen waste, which can be easily and beautifully managed, and I want more and more people to include it in their lives.”

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