Mopungchuket inches towards plastic-free village

Mopungchuket inches towards plastic-free village
(L) Volunteers carrying out monthly cleanliness drives in the village. (R) Waste being disposed at MMC dump yard located about 25 kms away from the village.
Correspondent MOKOKCHUNG, APR 5 (NPN) | Publish Date: 5/5/2019 11:26:19 AM IST

Located 18 km from district headquarter town of Mokokchung town and attributed by many travel writers and tourism publications as “perhaps the best kept village in Nagaland,” Mopungchuket is known for cleanliness and community participation in its upkeep. Now, it is inching towards becoming a plastic-free village. 

Adjacent to Impur Mission Centre established by American Baptist missionaries in 1894, Mopungchuket has a long history of adopting clean living and sanitation practices. This presumably could be because of its close association with the American missionaries and teachers who resided at Impur Mission Centre then.  

While the villagers are socially conditioned in general cleanliness and sanitation, the menace of plastic pollution and the question of waste management are relatively new challenges that they recognised as a potent threat to their cleanliness practices. And taking cognisance of this threat, the villagers have now embarked on a new mission to make their village plastic-free. It is being spearheaded by Youth Ministry of Mopungchuket Baptist Church and actively supported by village council, students’ union and Greensight Project.

The Youth Ministry first conceived the idea of initiating the “Plastic Free Project” in January 2017 on a mission mode and resolved to pursue the ideal as an indefinite mission. This project was conceptualised to be carried out in commemoration of the centenary celebration of the Youth Ministry (1917-2017). Work on the mission began immediately and volunteers of the Youth Ministry placed 100 indigenous bamboo baskets as waste bins in various locations around the village in April 2017 as a first exercise. Since then, they have also been carrying out cleanliness drives in the village on a monthly basis. 

Initially, the volunteers used private vehicles to collect and dispose the garbage collected during the monthly cleanliness drives. However, the village was given a pick-up truck by the public health engineering department (PHED) under Swachh Bharat Mission in May 2018 and since the vehicle is being used for the purpose with support from the village council. The PHED also sponsored 80 garbage bins and an incinerator that very well complimented the ministry’s project.  

In collaboration with the village council and Greensight Project, the ministry also conducted a seminar on cleanliness and waste management in 2017 and, as an outcome of the seminar, the village adopted several resolutions. One of the key resolutions put into practice today is that the villagers have stopped throwing away textile wastes like old clothes, blankets and footwear. The households stock them and wait for the volunteers to collect and dispose them at Mokokchung Municipal Council’s (MMC) dump yard, which is done twice a year. Supported by Greensight Project, the ministry has also carried out extensive information, education & communication (IEC) campaign on plastic waste management and is also in the process of producing a documentary video on it.

The vision statement of plastic-free Mopungchuket aims to totally eliminate plastic waste from households, streets, drains and rivers of the village, make every resident become ambassadors of the global campaign against plastic pollution and role model of waste management and spread the message of saving environment as humanity will face “unprecedented dangers detrimental to human existence” with the rapid degradation of natural environment.

During the public meeting on sanitation and cleanliness held at the village on March 10 under the aegis of Mopungchuket Medemsanger Putu Menden and Youth Ministry, the house resolved to make it mandatory for every household to maintain compost pits for management of biodegradable wastes and organic manure production, besides banning plastic polythene carry bags in the village with effect from May 2019 and SHGs will be engaged to produce paper bags as an alternative. 

Further, it was also resolved that each household shall keep at least three or four non-plastic shopping bags.

Further, the meeting resolved to collect a nominal from each household to manage door-to-door waste collection and disposal, and all wastes to be disposed at MMC dump yard.

It was also resolved to segregate waste at source and at collection points, while plastic wastes will have to segregated from other wastes and stocked for recycling/outsourcing.

Since its inception two years ago, the plastic-free campaign is now steadily making headway. 

Spearheaded by Youth Ministry under the leadership of youth pastor L Yanger Pongen, the campaign has effectively impacted noticeable behavioural change among the villagers. 

The recent notification of Mopungchuket as a model village for solid waste Management by the State government is expected to give a fillip to the plastic-free campaign. And judging from the historical background of the village, the villagers are adaptive to new ideas and changes and it is hoped that this campaign will also yield positive results and can be replicated in other Naga villages.

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