Waste to wealth: Odisha’s ‘Mo Khata’ outlets selling organic compost turn popular

Published : January 20, 2021 19:31 IST

A member of an SHG group is seen at a “Mo Khata” outlet in Bhubaneswar. Photo: BISWARANJAN ROUT

People keen on keeping their flower plants, kitchen gardens and farmlands green and healthy without using chemical fertilisers are now using `Mo Khata’ (My Compost) being sold at various designated outlets across Odisha’s urban areas.

An outlet that recently opened at the busy Rajmahal Square in Bhubaneswar attracts new customers each day. “The response to ‘Mo Khata’ has been very encouraging,” said Jyoti, member of a women’s Self-Help Group (SHG) managing the counter.

As many as 110 of the 114 urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha now produce this organic compost being sold in 159 outlets across the State. A bag of 5 kg of the compost is available for Rs. 100, and 20 kg for Rs. 400 at a discounted rate.

The decentralised initiative of solid waste management through the micro-composting initiative of the Odisha government’s Housing & Urban Development Department began with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laying the foundation stones of Micro Composting Centres (MCCs) and material recovery facilities (MRFs) in August 2019.

This paradigm shift, with active involvement of more than 2,000 Mission Shakti women SHGs, transgender people and ragpickers’ groups, has been converting these MCCs and MRFs into ‘Wealth Centres’. About 600 metric tonnes of wet waste is being processed every day in the State of which about 15 per cent turns into compost.

Wet waste, once collected from households and other establishments, undergoes aerobic composting at the MCCs in a controlled process involving microbial decomposition. It then turns into organic manure and is converted into the final product of compost, branded throughout the State as `Mo Khata’. A standard operating procedure has been put in place to ensure quality of the compost generated.

Similarly, the recyclables and non-recyclables separated from the segregated dry waste are being converted to wealth. This is slowly turning garbage-filled urban areas to garbage-free wealth-generating clean hubs.

According to the Department Secretary G. Mathi Vathanan, the solid waste management model being implemented in the State is unique since it has amalgamated some of the best practices prevailing in other States.

The end-to-end model covers all aspects by involving the community in a structured manner, with no contractors involved. The resources generated from the sale of the compost as well as the recyclables and non-recyclables were being deposited in the corpus fund of the MCCs.

“The money generated is being utilised to meet the operation and maintenance cost of the Wealth Centres and the respective ULBs are spending no money in the entire waste management exercise,” said Mathi Vathanan.

The decentralised solid waste management model adopted by Odisha eliminates the tipping fee model (at landfills) and the associated profit motive of contractors, thus reducing the capital and operating expenditure. The authorities hope that the sustainable waste management technique will reduce the burden of dumping on open land and minimise the carbon footprint in Odisha’s urban areas.