The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jobless youths in hill-clean drive

Darjeeling, Aug. 17: The cash-strapped Darjeeling municipality has devised a novel way to clean up this hill resort at no extra cost.

A group of unemployed youths will from now on go around the town collecting garbage from houses, hotels and other commercial establishments.

Pasang T. Bhutia, chairman of the Gorkha National Liberation-controlled civic body, said the municipality did not have enough tractors to clear the hill streets of garbage.

The town produces 18 tonnes of waste every day. “We have only four tractors, which are not enough to collect garbage from 32 wards,” Bhutia said.

The service would initially be limited to Ward No. 17. “If it is a success, we will introduce it in other wards as well,” Bhutia said. The civic body would not pay the youths who would work under the banner of the Himalayan Environment Awareness Programme ( HEAP), he added.

The move follows the municipality’s decision to dismantle vats in some areas, where garbage often overflowed on to the streets. Prajwal Chandra Lama, adviser to HEAP, said they got the idea from Kathmandu, where private organisations are engaged in collecting garbage.

“We had submitted a proposal to the Darjeeling municipality. We have now got the go-ahead from them,” he said.

The organisation will charge a household Rs 30 a month for the doorstep collection. Commercial establishments would have to pay Rs 200 every month.

Lama said HEAP members, wearing masks and gloves, would move door to door between six and eight in the morning. The ward has 786 houses.

Initially, HEAP will press seven of its members into service. Each of them will be paid Rs 600 a month.

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