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For A Cleaner Kemmannu: Awareness Drive

On the 30th of September, a group of college students walked towards the Hanging Bridge in Kemmannu, with a more serious mission in mind than most visitors to this place. These were the members of Engineers Without Borders, Manipal and Scio Foundation, Manipal Chapter, undertaking an awareness drive for the residents of Kemmannu. Accompanied by a Medical Social Worker from KMC, the members of the two organizations talked about personal hygiene and waste disposal, pushing for reforms in the little village.

From a previous visit to the area that had taken place after a team member witnessed the burning of plastics there, Engineers Without Borders had ascertained that there was a general lack of awareness regarding the disposal of wastes. Seeking to redress this issue, the club showed up at the village, with the objective of getting the residents to understand the harm that their current methods of waste disposal, or lack thereof, was causing.

After reaching the area, the organizers split up and went from door to door, gathering people in the verandah of a house near the bridge.  Members of Engineers Without Borders addressed the people first,  stressing the need for proper waste disposal methods. “The waste that you think you have disposed of by throwing into the river or in a nearby dump eventually ends up back with you, through the water you drink and the fish you eat,” they explained.

Credits: Engineers Without Borders

Aided by the MSW from KMC, Scio members then talked about how keeping themselves clean was as important as keeping their surroundings clean. They explained the consequences of not following proper hygiene standards. Washing one’s hands might seem like an inconsequential task, but many still don’t do it as often or as thoroughly as they should. The proper technique of washing hands was demonstrated to try and rectify this. Subsequently, the members of both organizations walked to all the houses in the area, handing out soap and liquid handwash to encourage the residents to carry forward and practice the lessons learned.

Credits: The Photography Club

The waste disposal problem in Kemmannu is worsened by the fact that the village is accessible only via the narrow hanging bridge, making it impossible for large vehicles to reach the area and collect the trash. “The situation here is quite unique, because of the constrained ecosystem that they have. However, the bridge does allow the passage of two-wheelers, so we have suggested that a few of the people here can volunteer to take the plastic and paper waste to the proper place. We don’t expect a complete upheaval in one day, we’re aiming for incremental change. We will follow up with this and are also planning a project specifically for this area,” said EWB President Akshat Garg, acknowledging the challenge. 

With the construction of a bridge to the area underway, a proper waste collection system will soon be possible. Akshat added that his club would also push the municipality into making this happen. Until then, the need of the hour is to minimize the damage being done. Siddharth Shreedhar, President of Scio Foundation, Manipal Chapter, was hopeful that the visit would bring about the desired changes in the village, judging from the interest shown by the residents in what they had to say and the positive reception they’d received.

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