The title of ‘Kerala’s cleanest town’ was bestowed upon Sulthan Bathery, a quaint little hill town in Wayanad, many years ago, and it continues to uphold this tag till date.
In fact, if you walk through any street here, you will notice that they are lined with potted plants, and you will be hard-pressed to find any garbage strewn around. Furthermore, if you sniff the air, the stench that usually emanates from piled up waste will be absent.
The entire credit for sustaining this can be attributed to Sulthan Bathery’s municipal council and particularly, its previous chairman CK Sahadevan, who had spearheaded a series of initiatives to transform the town and rid it of waste.
Beginning with clearing waste from all the 13 drains across the town, many of which had been cluttered with garbage for over 30 years, the next objective of the council was to implement a widespread ban on plastic.
Alongside, the wild overgrowth of plants and trees along public roads was also removed.
Soon enough, the citizens of Sulthan Bathery found the face of their town changing for good, with the municipal chairperson, councillors as well as civic employees keeping a round-the-clock lookout, to stop miscreants from dumping garbage in public places. Not just civil authorities, even the citizens came forward to support the initiative because of which the garbage dumping menace finally ended.
Every morning at 4:00 a.m., nine municipal workers who have been tasked with cleaning up Sulthan Bathery, get to work along with their carts. While their work gets done within a span of three hours, these folks make the second round in the afternoon to pick up any sweet wrapper or leaves that they might have missed, keeping the town clean in a way that they would keep their own home!
Another remarkable practice mandated by Sulthan Bathery’s civic body has been the removal of all banners, flags and other display articles related to political meetings or functions within 24 hours of their conclusion.
While the potted plants which bloom to their full glory are indeed eye-catching, the flowering trees in the town are no way behind in their flamboyant floral displays.
The municipal authorities hope that Sulthan Bathery will one day become the ‘garden city’ of Kerala, and the trees were planted many years ago, keeping this purpose in mind.
There are several interesting aspects about the town, but the one which is most fascinating is its public washroom, where a ‘visitors’ book’ has been kept by the council for comments and suggestions from people, making it possibly the only place in Kerala to have done so!
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The council also has some noteworthy initiatives in the pipeline. The first, which intends to optimise waste management, involves ‘buying’ garbage from the citizens, right from their homes and shops!
“This is to convert it into fertilisers and electricity. A waste management plant is now being set up for the purpose. German technology is used in the plant, which will be operational in three months”, said TL Sabu, the present municipal chairperson to Manorama.
The second is that of a free e-rickshaw service for patients, this time by the Noolpuzha Family Health Centre.
With a funding of ₹2 lakh provided by the gram panchayat for the auto, the eco-friendly commute has been specially arranged for the differently-abled, the elderly, pregnant women, and nursing mothers living within a 5 km radius of the health centre.
Sulthan Bathery is thus setting a rare benchmark for environment conservation that can not only inspire towns and metropolitan cities across the country but also give them a blueprint for their own municipal jurisdictions.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)