Community initiatives in Sikkim



Given below are some community initiatives that can be studied and replicated in various areas. Many of the community initiatives have led to local youth getting employed. The major advantages of community participation are shared responsibility, quick resource mobilisation, sustainability and efficient decision making. Many initiatives can help the community without spending a single paise: all you need to do is to put the pieces together:and interconnect supply with demand.
Tired of applying for a Government job, landing one is considered as attaining Nirvana, or some contract work, a local unemployed of my locality approached me to ask if I could help him. I told him that since jobs in the organised sector were very diffficult to come by, he should explore the possibility of trying out something more innovative. Why not help the community tackle its longstanding problem with parking and garbage. He did just that and is earning his livelihood from the parking fees and the garbage fees. There was also no financial investment involved in this venture: he just capitilised on the demand driven need of the community. He has evenfurther employed six person under him. Garbage may be a waste but by considering it as a resource entreprenuers can make a livelihood out of it.
Creating job opportunities at the colony level- problems be seen as opportunities
Rapid development in Sikkim has brought about its concominant problems. For example two issues seem to be directly troubling citizens especially those in the urban areas. These problems can be transformed into opportunities. Garbage disposal and lack of parking space for motor vehicles are two major problems that dog the towns and cities of Sikkim. A system of door to door collection of garbage on a daily basis can be very maeningful. A house hold can easily afford to pay Rs 50 a month for this service.
Because of growing number of vehicles in the towns, car owners are increasingly facing parking problems- inability to find parking space or the car getting immobilised because other parked vehicles have obstructed its way.
Car owners can collectively pay Rs 100 per month each to hire caretaker to take care of their vehicles costing on an average Rs 3 lacs parked on the road side. There are about 30000 vehicles in Sikkim. There is therefore a potential for creating 1000 jobs in Sikkim -nightwatchman and caretakers. The calculation may be simplistic but it shows the potential of opportunities that exist.
The author was a part of an experiment taken up in his locality at Syari – a colony in Gangtok- to solve the parking problem. Working on the above pattern 3 local youth were employed as caretakers and parking attendants by collecting monthly fees from the car owners. While working as parking attendants they picked up driving skills and over a period of 5 years 10 of them got employed as full time drivers. The caretakers were also involved for neighbourhood watch- reporting any unsocial activitiy to the police patrol that visits the locality at 10 o’clock in the night. Subsequently, thefts of parts from vehicles and crimes are now negligible. There was also a lot of drug related activity in the area. All this stopped and the drug runners just vanished from the locality. The caretakers were given a small room adjacent to the car park; we called it the Neighbourhood Watch and Parking Office. This model is working well since May 2007 and other colonies have evinced interest to replicate it. The community has been so enamoured with the word Neighbourhood Watch that they even have set up a Community based organisation called the Neighbourhood Watch Society

Managing Garbage-The Syari Model
The author of this website, based on his experience in spearheading various community initiatives suggest how to successfully put in place a mechanism of collection of garbage in a locality
The Sikkim Government and AG Residential Complex at Syari is a rather densely populated locality of Gangtok with almost five hundred households. Proper disposal of garbage was always a problem particularly for the households located far away from the road head which is serviced by the Garbage collection truck of the Local Municipality. Why not begin door to door garbage collection? Besides facilitating the households as well as ensuring a clean environment this arrangement would help in employment generation – a win-win situation for all. Garbage may be a problem for many but it would be an opportunity for others. It was felt that Garbage should be seen as a resource – even as a source of livelihood- and not a waste material
Elucidated below are the steps adopted that made garbage management at Syari a success story. Also spelt out are the benefits that have accrued, the scope for sustainability, replication and augmentation.
Identifying and engaging a committed local unemployed who can take up implementing the programme – at the same time avoiding the programme becoming champion driven
This is the most important cog in the wheel: a person who has the commitment and drive to implement project – a person who is passionate about contributing something for the society and wants to take this up as a sort of occupation. However there is risk of the programme becoming champion-driven: which means that the project fizzles out after the person driving it leaves the scene. A committee consisting of all the stakeholders needs to be created.
Involving the local community
Local unemployed youth and the Cheli Morcha were mobilised to spread the word that a proposal for collection of door to collection of garbage was in the offing and all the residents were required to give their acceptance and agree to contribute Rs 50/- per month The Syari Employees Welfare Association and the Neighbourhood Watch Cooperative two community based Organisations got together to implement this scheme.
Formal high profile launch
The door to door to house collection of garbage was formally launched by the Area MLA in the presence of the Councillor, Cheli Morcha, Local Taxi Association, Residents and the unemployed youth. Representatives from the stakeholders were also asked to speak during the inaugural function so that they feel part of the scheme of things. The press both the electronic and print media were called to ensure wide publicity. This anointment of the scheme sent a message across that we were very serious about its implementation and residents felt that they should cooperate.
Glorifying the assignment of Garbage Collector
There seems to be a stigma, very wrong of course, to a job that involves collection of garbage and titles like Sweepers and Safia Karamcharis are considered rather demeaning. We therefore thought of glorifying the job by calling the garbage collectors “Syari Beautifiers”. They were given track suits with the words SYARI BEAUTIFIER brightly emblazoned on their jackets.
Garbage is collected from 400 household with each household contributing Rs 50/- per month. Rs 20,000 so collected is used to pay the wages of the supervisor, 3 garbage collector and one bill collector- all unemployed local youth who are proudly going about their important tasks of keeping the environment clean and also making a livelihood out of it.
Collection Mechanism
Carrying garbage bins on their backs and blowing whistles, the Syari Beautifiers go around the residential complex from 7 am to 10 am every morning. The approximately 600 kg of garbage so collected is transferred to huge garbage drums for collection by the Municipality truck at 6 am the next morning. *The local youth has seen a good revenue model in garbage and lately went ahead a purchased a new mini truck to transport the garbage to the landfill site. He hopes to recover the cost of the vehicle within two years.
More and more households are enrolling to have their garbage collected from their doorsteps: the arrangement is therefore demand driven.
Residents do not mind paying a paltry Rs 50 per month. This makes it intrinsically self sustaining. It has a potential for generating more jobs. And that too, without any capital investment.
Collection of the garbage fees
Initially one of the garbage collector would go around once in a month collecting the fees but this undermined his work as sometimes the residents would not be available at home resulting in revisiting. The services of the TV Cable Bill Collector was subsequently used to collect the payments,
Corpus Fund
About 5 percent of the money collected goes into a corpus fund to meet unforeseeable and contingent expediture like replacement of garbage bins.
Helpline number, Appraisals and Feedbacks
A helpline number where the residents can lodge complaints if any can be useful. A meeting once in every quarter amongst the stakeholders can provide an opportunity for sorting out any problems.
Scope for replication
It has good scope for being replicated in other densely populated localities. There are about 50,000 households in urban areas in Sikkim: a ball park figure of one garbage collector for every 100 households would mean there is a potential for creation of 500 jobs in Sikkim. Residents would not mind paying Rupees 50 per month to have their garbage collected from their houses. The calculation may be simplistic but it shows the potential of opportunities that exist.
Once should see garbage as a resource and not a waste product. More than fifty percent of the garbage consists of vegetable waste. If this can be disposed off at source, it will considerably reduce the pressure at the Garbage processing plant and the landfills. Similarly 25 percent of the garbage consists of paper waste.
An awareness campaign is being launched to request the residents to use vermicomposting to decompose the vegetable waste and use the compost so generated for manure for their indoor plants. On the anvil is a proposal to begin vermicomposting on a large scale so that the manure can be sold resulting in supplementing income. For the paper waste a mini paper recycling plant is being proposed. The recycled products like paper bags, envelops and file covers can be sold in the local market and government offices resulting in income generation.
If you are troubled by the menace of littering and garbage in your locality, why not take the above measures to combat it? It involves no investments but would pay rich dividends in terms of employment generation and a clean environment, Everyone was happy except the maid servants as the door to door collection of garbage had put an end to their morning outings to dispose the garbage when they would got an opportunity to gossip with their friends. To ensure more of ownership of a initiative, it sometimes makes sense to have it launched by a social worker or by the person whom you feel will drive it forward.

Solid waste Management – A success story in a rural area
(How Mr Ganesh Rai, President of Melli Dara Gram Panchayat Unit has succeeded in making his area Solid Waste Free using Organic Composting Technologies – initiatives worth replicating in other localities.)
22- Melli Dara Paiyong GPU has been making serious strides towards Garbage Management of the GPU. Melli Bazar, a small town falls under our GPU and managing garbage of the town has been a challenging task so far. Initially, responsibility of managing the garbage of the town was with the Urban Development and Housing Department, Government of Sikkiim. Later, the Gram Panchayat decided to take the responsibility of managing the garbage of the town. The Gram Panchayat decided to levy monthly garbage fee and the fee was decided on the basis of residential or the type of enterprise. The Gram Panchayat was supported in this venture by Indo Swiss Project, Sikkim and Rural Management and Development Department by sponsoring a Utility Vehicle. Since then, the Gram Pachayat has been able to manage the garbage of the town very efficiently.
The Gram Panchayat has established a ”Solid Waste Management Unit” at Lower Paiyong in consultation to Maple Orgitech India Ltd, by South District Zilla Panchayat. The Solid Waste Management Unit has been set up with two purposes in mind. First purpose is to recycle the waste product and produce something useful out of it and to generate revenue. The garbage is separated as degradable and non-degradable at the source itself. The non-degradable such as plastic is be sent to Siliguri for further processing and recycling. In order separate garbage at the source itself, the Gram Panchayat recently launched a very ambitious mission, a mission to make the GPU ”SOLID WASTE FREE BY 2011″. Under this mission, Lower Paiyong ward has been chosen for Pilot Mode. All the houses were distributed two garbage collecting bins so that degradable and non-degradable garbage is separated at the very source. The pilot mode will run for four months. After four months, the Gram Panchayat shall select another ward for the mission and when all the wards will have been covered, the GPU will be Solid Waste Free. The Gram Panchayat has decided to organize awareness camps in schools as well to make this mission a success.

NGOs and other organisation

Although the Government in Sikkim is very proactive and undertaking many welfare measures; there are many NGOs and Community Based Organisations equally making their contributions.  Some of the NGOs and Associations working in sectors of health, environment, tourism, social service and sports are listed below


Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim (VHAS) Majong Kothi Complex, Nam Nam Road, Gangtok; Contact Person: Dr. B.B. Rai  Ph. No. 206505,200961; Activities: Propagating healthcare at the grass root level

National Association for Blind, C/O Paro Building, Deorali, Gangtok;  Jayshree Pradhan 231169; Runs a school Jawarlal Nehru Institute for the Handicapped at Namchi.

Sikkim Viklang Sahayata Samiti, Zero Point Gangtok Draupadi Ghimirey 201305Rehabilitation of the orthopadeically handicapped

Sikkim Spastic Society Near TNHSS School Development Area Rehabilitation of children suffering from autism, cerebral palsy

Special School  for the Hearing Impaired,  Sichey. Educating and rehabilitating children who are hearing impaired

Sikkim Rehabilitation and Detoxification Centre, Nimitar Working in the field of rehabilitation of the drug abuse


Green Circle Chumbi Residency,  Gangtok; Ushal Lachungpa  Ph. 205273, Chewang 9832046975 Rajesh Verma 9434186291

Sikkim Development Foundation; Tashikhar, Changyal Complex, M.G. Marg, Gangtok;  Ganden Lachungpa 9434025274

Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS),  Gangtok;  RP Gurung 9733088003

Kanchendzonga Conservation Committee (KCC), Yoksum; Pema Gyalsten 9735095543


Travel Agents Association of Sikkim;(Ph200842) Changyal Complex; M.G. Marg; Gangtok; Paljor Lachungpa 205113

Rotary Club  Norkhill Hotel(Ph203186), Near Paljor Stadium, Gangtok;  OP Singhi 9434000633, Ashwin Oberoi  Yogesh Verma 9434022314,

   Rotary Club of Gangtok South  Hotel Denzong Regency; RC Mangla 9832062029 Bina Sharma 9434012633   Sunila Verma Ph 9733351329

Mayalmu Sang  Dara Goan, Tadong, East Sikkim Activities: Voluntary organization working for the welfare of abandoned children, mentally retarded and homeless persons by providing free food and shelter.

Kaluk Destitute Home Kaluk, West District run by the Social Welfare Department Government of Sikkim

NGOs cannot match the resources and infrastructure that is usually available with the Government: however NGOs can fill the gaps and also play the role of a thinktank and do advocacy like the letters by Green Circle  below which prompted the Government after it was vigoursly followed up in the Forest, Sikkim Police Checkpost and Transport Department to introduce Garbage bags in vehicles plying in alpine areas. Such type of activities require no funds. Given below are some letters written by the Green Circle, a Local NGO,   and Syari Employees Welfare Association as a part of the Advocacy Programme


Secretary cum PCCF
Forest Environment & Wildlife Department, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok

Sub: Making it mandatory for Taxis going to High Altitude to carry garbage disposal bags

Many tourists have now started visiting ecologically sensitive alpine areas like Tsogmo Lake, Yumthang valley and the Cholhamu plateau
A direct fallout of this been that the roadside leading to these areas is being littered with empty foodstuff packets (Lays, Bingo, Kurkure and the like) thrown out of the vehicles by the tourists. We are aware that such littering can cause immense damage to the alpine areas.
While we cannot prevent tourists from partaking to snacks while travelling we can certainly find a way out for them to conveniently dispose the empty food packets. It is suggested that all taxis, especially those plying to the high altitudes are made to carry at least two small garbage disposal bags located at vantage points within the vehicle where tourists can conveniently dispose the food covers. The taxis could dispose the contents in the garbage bins when they return to their base.
This measure will go a long way in helping us to keep our alpine areas clean and pristine and will be in line with the Government policy for introducing Green Taxis.

Yours faithfully,

Green Circle
The Environment Group of Sikkim

In Sikkim there is no system of having house numbers and addressees are located by landmarks like “the house close to the magnolia tree”. This makes it difficult finding out locations. The letter below elucidates how a community solved this problem and has advised the Government to replicate the numbering scheme in other areas.

The Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim

Adoption of a simple House number system for Government Residential buildings
We would like to bring to your kind notice that at the Government of Sikkim Residential Complex at Syari, we have introduced a very simple system of numbering of the buildings. Class I Quarters are numbered as IA,IB etc. Similarly class 3 Quarters numbered as 3A, 3B etc. It is very easy to remember – no confusing string of numbers with brackets and astericks. These numbers have been prominently emblazoned on the outer of the buildings. The Government may like to adopt this simple schema of numbering the houses for other Government colonies in the sate. This would go a long way in helping the residents to have propoer addresses.

Yours faithfully
Syari Employees Welfare Association

Chief Municipal Officer, Gangtok Municipal Corporation, Gangtok

Sub: Renaming the Safaikaramcharis, Sweepers and Garbage Collectors as Gangtok Beautifiers

There seems to be a stigma, very wrong of course, to a job that involves collection of garbage and sweeping  and titles like Sweepers and Safia Karamcharis are considered rather demeaning. We may therefore think of  glorifying the jobs by calling the garbage collectors “Gangtok Beautifiers”. The track suits they have been issued can have these words written on them.
This will give the Safai Karam charis and garbage collectors dignified titled and will enable them to go about their important task of keeping Gangtok clean in a more efficient manner.                                          Yours faithfully,

Rajesh Verma
Green Circle

gmc letter gangtok beautifier

There are quite a number of disabled in the society. However because of social and economic reasons they are left to languish at home. The Government and some NGOs have  established institutes like  the Special Schools for the Hearing Impaired, The Spastics Society, Sikkim Viklang Sahayata Samiti and the Blind School for rehabiliting them. Various technologies and techniques were adopted to help the disabled children acquire educational and vocational skills to make them employable and useful self dependant citizens of the society not relying on charity and compassion. There is generally fatalistic attitude of the society in Sikkim towards the disabled. The society feels that their disability is due to an act of God and that  nothing can be done to rectify it. There is a resigned sort of an attitude towards them: disabled should be kept at home as they do not have that ability to pick up skills- both vocational and educational to make then employable. However the good practices adopted  addresses this very issue- using various tools to make them employable and useful citizens of the society.

Case Study I:Using Information Tools to teach the visually challenged children

Here is a case study of the good practices that were adopted for the the Visually challenged by the Blind School,  National Association for the Blind- Sikkim of which the author is a member.

The Challenges

Teaching the visually challenged children is a formidable task because of their disability although most children are mentally alert. Before the introduction of Information Technology tools, the children of the school faced the following problems.

  1. Limitation of reading materials in Braille.
  2. Whatever material was available in Braille was printed on paper which is prove to degradation because of repetitive use.
  3. There was a dearth of audio material available for the children that could help them in their studies.

This resulted in children not being able to cope up with their studies because of which the results were bad and the failure rates were high.

Best Practices adopted

Since 2002  Information Technology tools and assistive technologies for improving and adding value to educating the visually challenged are being used.  The action areas addressed are

  1. Improving quality in Education
  2. Supporting Education in difficult circumstances

The following best practices were adopted.

Establishing a computer centre at the Blind School

Before Information Technology could be used in a meaningful and beneficial manner for the visually impaired children, the basic infrastructure consisting of few computers with internet connectivity, scanner, Braille printers, UPS etc was established in a centrally located room in the school.

Conversion of text to Braille using the services of two hearing impaired computer operators

There is a wealth of information and material available in the electronic format and on the internet.  The visually challenged did not have easy access to it all because it was not available in Braille. It was with this in mind that in 2002, two computers were procured along with 4 Perkin  Braille printers.  As the Perkin Braille printers printed very slowly and could not cope up with the voluminous printing, a faster Juliet Pro printer that could print inter point on both sides of the paper was procured in 2004.

Using Duxbury Braille Translator software whatever content that was available in electronic format was converted to Braille. For books that were not available in the electronic (word format) scanning using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software was adopted. All books prescribed from Class III to Class VIII were scanned by two deaf and dumb computer operators and converted to text document and thereafter to Braille. In the process we gainfully employed two hearing impaired people who would have it found difficulty in getting jobs elsewhere.

The use of computers has increased manifold with the introduction of the tactile readers because of the ease with which these devices can be used as well as opening a window of information through the internet.

Use of audio medium to read documents and content creation in local language

One effective way to teach the blind children is to read out the material to them. Keeping this in mind, a rich repository of documents in the audio format is being created. Most of it is being collected from various Blind Associations where this material is already available so that we do not re-invent the wheel.

A powerful screen reader software was procured. It enables the user to navigate on the screen by reading out the details of the icons and the text.

A talking library of audio files in MP 3 format as well as Daisy format has been established.  Daisy is reading software that makes printed or electronic text accessible to people who are blind in the audio form.

Nepali is the local colloquial language of Sikkim. More than 95 percent of population uses this language. What was lacking is local language content and to meet this requirement we have established a recording studio in which audio content is being created in the local language Nepali.

Story books in local languages are to make school going an interesting experience.

Training for Computer Instructors

The computer instructors of the Blind School are required to undergo a training programme once every year so that they are well equipped to handle and teach the new technologies that are being inducted in the school. So far they have been sent for training in preventive maintenance of the Braille Printers, configuring of the tactile printers and the production of talking libraries.

Measurable outcomes and sustainability

After the IT was adopted, there has been an improvement in the results. There has been a 20 percent increase in the marks scored by the students.   The children are able to imbibe the contents of their school books in a better manner.

There has been a 10 percent saving in Braille paper with the induction of the Juliet Pro Printer that prints on both sides of the paper. There are also less printing errors in this printer. The tactile readers have also resulted in the  reduction in consumption of Braille paper.

The good practices adopted are also sustainable as they are demand driven. The children have got so used to using the IT tools that they now cannot do without them.  Similarly IT tools have been used for the Hearing Impaired, those suffering from autism and cerebral palsy and the orthopedically handiapped. For instance for students who do not have a hand, footswitches have been deployed which have all the functionalties of a mouse thus allowing them to use the keyboard more efficiently.

Click here to see the “Garden of Senses”  initiative in the Blind School

Case Study II:Using techniques to educate the physically challenged with

an aim to make them employable                                                             

What can be more rewarding and satisfying in life than getting involved in an initiative that helped 12 disabled school dropouts become  accomplished computer data entry operators?  A report that charters how this was done ……..

There are  many disabled persons who are  left to languish at home because of social and economic considerations. In Sikkim there is also a fatalistic attitude of the society towards them. The society feels that their disability is due to an act of God – your Karma in your previous live-  and that  nothing can be done to address it. There is a resigned sort of an attitude towards them: disabled should be kept at home as they do not have that ability to pick up skills. But we at the Sikkim Viklang Sahayata Samiti (SVSS) are disproving this myth.

The Sikkim Viklang Sahayata Samiti (Institute to aid the orthopaedically Handicapped) is an NGO that looks after the welfare and rehabilitation of the disabled.   Ever since its inception 20 years ago, the organisation has been engaged in making and providing artificial limbs  for the disabled in the state. It has been arranging reconstructive surgery for patients with cleft lips and burns. It also helps the disabled children acquire educational and vocational skills to make them employable and useful self dependant citizens of the society not relying on charity and compassion.

It is found that the loss of use of a faculty by the disabled is amply compensated by sharpening of the other senses. For instance a blind person has an excellent memory, a hearing impaired is not disturbed by external noises and therefore has immense power of concentration and can be more efficient than a normal person.

There is a rather good requirement of computer operators both in the government and the private sector in the state and we thought why not attempt training a group of disabled individuals and make them accomplished data entry operators?

12 orthopaedically disabled and school drop out individuals in the age  group of 17 to 20 belonging to very poor families and from remote areas of the state were chosen. The idea was to put  them through a custom-made one year long computer data entry training programme.

The first challenge was to set up a computer training lab in the already cramped up office premises of the Samiti at Gangtok. The Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India has a scheme to provide computers and special learning aids to organisations dealing in rehabilitation of the disabled. We approached the Ministry of Information Technology to include SVSS in their scheme of things, which they graciously did and we soon had a training lab equipped with 10 computers and special IT tools to teach the disabled. The Ministry also funded the salary of a computer instructor for a period of one year.

As the disabled children were from outside Gangtok, arrangements had to be made for their boarding and lodging. An abandoned hostel building was identified. The Directorate of Capacity Building, Government of Sikkim, came forward to refurbish two dormitories and also made available funds towards fooding charges..

Every day, six days a week, computer training was imparted for five hours a day and the group was taught computer fundamentals, data entry, desktop publishing, internet animation etc.

Because of the physical disabilities that they were suffering from, special tools and techniques were used to enable them picking up skills as computer operators.

For  instance the footswitch  help persons who had one  hand or loss the use of a hand, to use the foot to navigate the cursor on monitor and has all the functionality of a mouse that a person normally used by hand. The use of voice commands to navigate the icons on the computer monitor was also taught. These allow considerable improvement in the typing skills.

Given their deformities, we had initially felt that they could never become good typists: but within a month or so they showed phenomenal improvement.

Since the students had dropped out of regular school mid-way, the challenge therefore was also to make them at least Class X (matriculate) which is the minimum requirement for jobs. As it was not possible for them to rejoin formal school, it was decided that they should be tutored to take the Class X Examination directly through the non-formal Open School.  Two hours every day were devoted to vocational skills and two hours for teaching them subjects prescribed in the syllabus for the Class X examination. Members of the  Rotary Club of Gangtok South and two assistant professors from the Sikkim Manipal University volunteered to do the teaching. The Five Ways Institute at Gangtok which is affiliated to the Indra Gandhi National Open School sponsored the registration fees and also provided the services of a tutor free of cost.  They were also given classes on essay writing, General Knowledge, Mental mathematics etc. This prepared them for facing various competitive examinations.

We threw in many extra curricular activities for them during the one year period. They gave dance  and song performances in a cultural charity show organised jointly by the  Rotary Club of Gangtok South and National Association for the Blind during a polio conference.  They also participated  in on the spot painting competitions and debates.

The outcome  of the programme was that even the most severely handicapped in the group learnt to type at an impressive speed of 40 words per minute on the keyboard and became very adept at using the computer. 8 out of the 12 children successfully passed their Class X examination. This was quite an achievement for us as all these students had dropped out from school in Class VII more than three to four years ago making them take a Class X examination straight aafter so many years did take a lot of hard work and  missionary zeal on part of the the trainers. The compelling attitude and the tenacity of the trained  to prove them selves also did contribute towards this success story.

The next step was to ensure that they got employment as this was the ultimate objective of the programme. At our behest, the Government issued a circular advising the various Departments so use the services of these computer operators for any data entry jobs. 10 of the operators are now engaged in data entry of records in a Government organization earning up to Rs 6000/- per month. The feedback that we have received is that their performance in terms of punctuality and productivity is better than their normal co-workers.  Mission accomplished!

And this is not the end of the story: we have begun with a second batch of fifteen.

The Green Circle – A local NGO had undertaken  AUDAID funded project in 2004-2005 to keep MG Road at Gangtok Litter Free.  This was a precursor to what you see now – a swanky MG Road.

Here is the completion report that was submitted to AUSAID encompassing the steps that were taken and the recommendations made.






List of Acronyms and Abbreviations


M.G. Marg  – Mahatma Gandhi Marg (Commercial Hub and Downtown of Gangtok)

Also the focus of the Litter & Spit Free Zone

UD & HD    – Urban Development and housing Department- A Department of

Government of Sikkim whose function inter-alia involves garbage


GWSSP       – Gangtok Water Supply and Sanitation Project

LFZ             – Litter Free Zone

IEC             – Information Education & Communication

GC              – Green Circle- the NGO implementing the Litter & Spit Free Zone

SAG           – Stakeholder Advisory Group.


Pan Shop    – A shop that sells betel leaves and betel nuts


The project involves making the M.G. Marg litter and spit free within a period of 4 months beginning 9th August 04. The goals, purpose and the output of the project are as follows:

  • Implementing of the Litter and Spit Free Zone at M.G. Marg would   pave the way for replicating similar projects to other localities in Gangtok. The experiences learnt would help in avoiding teething problems.
  • Improving the environmental health  of the town center by eliminating litter on the street and the practice of spitting.
  • Preventing the incidence of diseases like tuberculosis the spread of which can be attributed to habits like spitting.
  • Preventing littering would keep away rodents  and insects like mice and cockroaches that are carriers of diseases
  • Raising public awareness of the importance of keeping the town clean, including highlighting the threats posed to public health and the town’s aesthetic value by littering and spitting.
  • Installing appropriately designed waste disposal bins in strategic locations along M.G. Marg and the surrounding area.
  • M.G. Marg would be showcased as the first litter and spit free zone in the country and would improve the image of the state. More tourists would visit the M.G. Marg resulting in improvement in business.
  • Establishment sustainable arrangements for the regular emptying of the bins.
  • Working closely with local residents, traders, shopkeepers and business people to elicit their on going support for the initiative.
  • Working with the Police Department who will be responsible for enforcing the legislation by imposing spot fines on offenders e.g. Rs. 50/-per offence.
  • Regular monitoring including feed back from the local community and evaluation of the effectiveness of the initiative.

During the last 4 months an aggressive awareness Campaign has been carried out to make the public aware about the MG Marg being litter and spit free. We have used a mixture of IEC: Banners, Posters, video film on cable. TV, announcement on All India Radio, Street Plays and  Rallys by   school children, Advertisement in the print media have all been done. There has been a considerable reduction in the amount of litter on the M.G. Marg as per the survey organized by us (Annexure ). This can directly be attributed to the awareness campaign.

With the awareness phase now over, the stage is set for enforcing the litter and spit free zone through mechanism of fines and patrolling.

The Green Circle has been playing the role of a facilitator. We have developed strong linkages with the UD & HD Department, Business Community, Civil Defience, the Porter Community and the GWSSP. It has now become possible for us to interact and mobilize the resources available with them.

With the awareness phase over, the stage has now been set for enforcing the Litter and Spit Free Zone through a mechanism of fines  imposed on offenders and contributions from various stakeholders.

A culmination  of the activities so far has been the formation of a task force which is constituted of members from the UD & HD, Civil Defence, Business Community and local NGOs. The task force has also been authorized to collect a fees of Rs. 20/- per month from every shop on MG Marg.  A  notification to this effect has been  issued by the Government of Sikkim. (Annexure). Another notification which stipulates the imposition of a fine of Rs 50/- on offenders has also been issued by the Government of Sikkim.  (Annexure )This group would be responsible for ensuring that the MG Marg is kept Litter & Spit Free on a longterm and  a sustained basis even after the support for it is withdrawn by the GWSSP.

The Task Force should  have legal sanctity and support from the Administration of the Government of Sikkim.  Two or three Sikkim Police Home Guards who can be designated as Eco-Police could perhaps work under the Task Force to impose fines.


One of the initial outcome of the Gangtok Water Supply & Sanitation Project was the constitution of Stakeholder  Advisory Group to oversee and monitor the implementation of the activities.

In its third meeting, the SAG proposed to make MG Marg a Litter & Spit Free Zone. This was followed up by several further meetings to discuss various issues related to the proposed initiative. Members of the project team, SAG and UDHD undertook a joint visit to the area to identify suitable places to install bins, and UDHD have drafted the notification to be submitted to the government for approval. Further discussion on the proposal included representatives of UDHD, Police Department, SAG, Civil Defence and GWSSP. The group recommended a course of action which included the establishment of a Task Force, follow-up with UDHD, and the appointment of an NGO to work closely with the Stakeholders to plan, manage and implement activities under the auspices of the GWSSP.

The GWSSP advertised the requirement of an NGO for implementing the Litter Free Zone project. Green Circle sent in its expression of interest and following the discussion with GWSSP was asked to undertake the  project.


It was seen that littering and sptting on M.G. Marg was quite rampant. This was more evident when  M.G. Marg becomes pedestrainised from 5 pm to 8 pm. Discarded lottery tickets, toffee wrappers, paper etc. can be  seen all around. Particularly pronounced was the spit of Pan eaters that left ugly crimson marks on the road and walls. Besides giving M.G. Marg a rathr dirty look, the litter and spit also posed a health hazard.

There were no receptacles like litter bins in which people would throw their litters and also no provisions where people could spit. Spitting was cntred more around Pan Shops and littering took place outside lottery-ticket sellers and confectionery shops.



It was felt that the kingpin to the success of the project would be an aggressive awareness campaign. A workshop aiming to create an awareness about the Litter Free Zone would first be held involving the business community residing on M.G. Marg, NGOs, the UD&HD and other stakeholders. This would be followed by a  high profile formal inauguration of the Litter and Spit Free Zone by the Chief Minister of the State.

The school children would be motivated to take out rallies on the Litter and Spit Free Zone on M.G. Marg to educate the shopkeepers, pedestrians, drivers and passengers and exhorting them not to litter and spit.  Street plays would be organized on a regular basis opposite to the Tourist Information Centre on M.G. Marg.

Banners both in English and the local language Nepali conveying the message of M.G. Marg being a Litter and Spit Free Zone would be placed at vantage points all across the town. Posters and stickers with similar messages would be put up in hotel receptions, shops and on vehicles.  Signages would be put up on the National Highway between Rangpo and Gangtok so that people especially tourists come to know about the ban before they reach the state capital.

Announcements on a portable mega phone about the ban would be made  on M.G. Marg in  the local language Nepali and in the national language Hindi. A street jester with the message of a litter free zone on the front and back of his   dress would move around the town. Message on th litter and spit free zone would be regularly be inserted in the local newspapers. Video films showing the evils of littering and spitting would be shown on the local cable TV. Announcments on All India Radio would also be made.

Litter Bins and Spitoons would be appropriately placed at regular intervals on M.G. Marg.

Regular interactions would be held with the business community  and the  UD&HD with an ultimate aim to constitute a Task Force that would sustain the project on a long term basis and be responsible for the post project maintenance.

The matter would be pursued  with the UD&HD to issue notifications authorizing the Task Force to levy fines on people caught littering and spitting. A notification allowing the Task Force to collect fees from every shop on M.G. Marg to meet running costs would also be got notified.


In order to meet the objectives the following activities were undertaken:


This workshop was aimed at creating awareness about the  Litter Free Zone campaign and also finding ways and means to implement it on a sustained basis.

The Pre-Launch workshop at Chumbi Residency was attended by MLA Gangtok, Principal secretary UD&HD, Business community, Lion club, Green Circle and  GWSSP Team.

Secretary UD &HD gave the keynote speech in which she spelt out the plan of the Government to make MG Marg Litter and Spit Free.

The Number of participants were about 150.

Some far reaching resolutions were passed during the workshop. These were:

nNotification declaring the M.G.Marg a  Litter and Spit free zone

nA grace period of 30 days to be given for the deterrent clause after issue of the notification

nDraft notification levying fine for littering should be made available to all the NGOs involved in the Awareness and cleanup campaigns

nContribution of Rs 50/- by shopkeepers for the Campaign

nUsage of M.G.Marg P.A.System for the LFZ campaign

nPosters on the Litter Free Zone for displaying on the receptions on the hotels

nAwareness Campaign in schools

The workshop paved the way for undertaking various major activities for making the M.G. Marg litter and spit free.



On the 26th  August 2004 M.G.MARG was declared as a “LITTER & SPIT FREE ZONE” by the Honorable Chief minister Dr. Pawan Chamling.. In a grand function that was organized for this occasion, the Chief minister unveiled a hoarding which says “You are entering a Litter and Spit Free Zone”  He said that the full support of the state administration will surely be there to make it a success but a great amount of contribution is needed from the public who have  to refrain from bad habits such as littering and spitting .People will have to change their mentality and be an example for others. A highlight of the programme was a Street play by students of the Kidekhang School.

The function was attended by about 1500 people from all walks of life and included the State Cabinet, Secretaries and other people who matter in the administration.  As the function was organized at the entrance of the M.G. Marg and was very high profile in nature, it did send a message loud and clear to the people about the ban on littering and spitting.


The porters are a section of the community who continuously interact with the businessmen, shopkeepers, shoppers etc. They are also the first people the tourists contact on reaching Gangtok for carrying their luggage to the hotels.

It was felt that they would be a good medium for spreading the message of the litter free zone. In a way, the porters were themselves also responsible for littering and spitting.

The orientation programme that was held on 5th September 04, Opposite the Sadar Police station by the Green Circle in association with the Rotary Club sought to address these issues. The orientation programme was attended by 200 porters.

The resource person for the orientation programme were  Mr. C. Lachungpa. Chairman, Green Circle, Mr. Karma Gyaltsen, General Secretary, Green Circle and Mr. Mohanlal Sarda, representative from the Rotary Club. In an interactive session that followed, the porters assured that they would inform their customers about the ban on littering because they were as concerned about cleanliness as we were. The porters even volunteered to sweep and clean the M. G. Marg on a regular basis.


An aggressive publicity campaign was  carried out by the Green Circle to drive home the litter and spit free zone message to the public. Rallies, street plays, posters, slogan competition, banners, video film on cable TV and announcement on All India Radio were the methods that were adopted. A random survey   shows that the IEC material and methods used for the campaign was effective.




The following schools took out rallies on M.G. Marg. The students who numbered 30 to 50 in each rally went around the market carrying placards and  telling the shopkeepers, motorists, pedestestrains and tourists about the evils of littering and spitting.  The participants were offered refreshments after each rally.

28th  August 2004 Kyi-de-khang school

10th  August 2004 Deorali School

11th August 2004 PNG School

12th August 2004 West Point School.

14th September 2004 Kyi-de-khang school

15th September 2004 Enchey School

17th September 2004 Deorali School

18th September 2004 West Point School

18th September 2004 PNG school

19th September 2004 T.N.H.S. School

20th September 2004 Enchey School

22nd September 2004 Modern School

23rd September 2004 Kyi-de-khang School

25th September 2004 Deorali School

27th September 2004 T.N.H.S School

The placards carried by the rallyists had messages like “Do not litter do not spit, Sikkim is not a pit”,   “Save our Environment for our Children”. Most of these placards have been now placed within the divider of the M.G. Marg for the people to read.


Street Plays

The street plays were held opposite the Tourist Information Centre at the entrance of the M.G. Marg.  The  themes of these plays  was the  necessity of keeping a clean, healthy and litterfree environment. Each street play was witnessed by an average 500-800 spectators.

There was a lot of encouragement from the public as the crowd cheered on seeing the performance of the students. After the play the students gave a very moving speech to the public asking them to save their future generation by setting an example themselves. The students and teachers were later provided refreshments.

26th Aug 04                 Kidekhang School during the Launch

21 Sept 04                   Deorali Girls School

27th Sept04                  PNG Girls School

30th Sept 04                 Modern School

5th Oct 04                    Enchey School

9th Oct 04                   Kidekhang School

11th Oct 04                  TNHSS School (refreshments sponsored by Hotel Srenya)



Posters and Stickers

800 posters were printed and have been affixed to the notice board of Hotel Receptions and shops on MG Marg. There has been a considerable delay in printing of the posters and stickers. This is perhaps because we are waiting for finalizing the slogans competition. It was only 18th October following a meeting with the GWSSP Team that We have decided not to print any more posters as the shops were reluctant to put these up because they would obstruct the view to their show-windows. Because of this reason and also due to the lack of space we have decided to use A4 size posters. The Posters read “Caution! You can be fined for Littering and Spitting, Keep Sikkim Litter and Spit Free”

4000 stickers have been procured and stuck windshield of  all vehicles including taxis within Gangtok town. Many of these stickers have been affixed to glass panes  of shops and restaurants. The stickers have the following message “Littering and Spitting on M.G. Marg is banned”

Announcement on the megaphone and the Mickey Mouse

We have found that this mode of awareness is  the  most effective. One of the Gangtok Beautifier is making announcement on a mega phone 5 to 6 times a day on MG Marg in Nepali and Hindi asking the general public and tourist not to litter. While the announcement is being  made it noticed that people halt and listen what is he saying.

To make this campaign more effective we also have a  person dressed in a attire of  a Mickey Mouse accompanying the Gangtok beautifier in the evenings. The Mickey Mouse has the  message of the litter free zone emblazoned on the front of the back of his dress. This is being very effective and catching interest of all the on the MG Marg. The mega phone announcement commenced from 15th Oct onwards and the Mickey Mouse started serenading the public from 28th Oct 04.

Slogan and Logo competition

It was decided to hold a slogan and logo competition. If the slogan were found suitable they would be used in our awareness campaign  material. However, none of the slogans and logo that was received  were found to be suitable for IEC material. Also an a early decision could not be taken on posters and stickers.


Banners have been put at vantage points on the MG Marg. Banners have also been put up at the private bus stand, the Lal Bazaar, Metro Point, Development Area, Zero Point, Deorali, Tadong and Chandmari. Some of these banners are in Nepali and have an eye catching and meaningful messages for instance “ Towards Green, clean and healthy Gangtok, littering and spitting on MG Marg is banned. Keep Sikkim Green and Clean”. As per the survey conducted by us many of the respondent had come to know about the litter and spit free zone by reading the banners.


20 jackets were prepared for Gangtok beautifiers. This is in lieu of the T-shirts that we have projected earlier in our project

There are six Sweepers (Safai Karmacharis) of the UD & HD Department deputed for cleaning the MG Marg. The Green Circle has also hired the services of one sweeper. As the word sweeper is demeaning, these people have been designated as Gangtok Beautifiers so that they feel proud of the work they are engaged in. They have been provided a jacket each with the words Gangtok Beautifiers written on it. Besides protecting the Gangtok Beautifiers from the elements of nature, the jackets also make them extremely visible as they are coloured bright orange.

Street Jester

In order to draw attention of the public especially those coming from the villages during the Haat (Market) Day, a  Street Jester was made to go around the lal bazaar shouting in a comical manner that people should desist from throwing litter on MG Marg. The street Jester drew a huge crowd and drove home the message of the Litter & Spit free zone across to the  villagers.

Glow sign and Sign Board

No progress has been made regarding sign board and glow sign. However the design of IEC material etc has been finalized. 30 sign boards have been  placed on electric/telephonic poles lining between Rangpo and Gangtok on the National Highway

Message in the Print Media

Message about the Litter Free Zone on M.G. Marg was regularly inserted in the local papers on the panel of the first page. The message read “ Littering and Spitting on M.G. Marg is banned from 26th August 04 onwards.”

Video Film

A two minutes video film was telecast daily on the litter free zone during prime time on  local Cable Nayuma TV from 7th Oct. Rs. 25000 paid as film making charges a and another Rs 25,000/- as telecasting charges. The video film is of a 2 minutes duration and shows a person smoking and spitting in front of a Pan shop. A small boy who sees this,  grimaces. The second shot in this film shows a chips packet being thrown on the MG Marg. The same boy picks up the empty packet and puts it in the litter bin. The film ends with the nessage littering ans spitting on MG Marg is not allowed. Please keep Sikkim clean and green. This medium of advertising was very powerful and many of the respondent in the survey came to know about the litter & Spit free zone from the cable TV. From 30th October 04, a scroll message on Nayuma Cable TV is being shown.  The message reads “No Littering  please. Please note littering and spitting on MG Marg is banned.”

Announcements on All India Radio

All India Radio still continues to be a popular medium for entertainment and news especially in the remotest parts of Sikkim where Cable TV has not yet reached. Keeping this in mind, a 15 second message on the litter free zone was broadcast daily from 8th Sept 04 for a period of one month.

It may be mentioned here that awareness about the Litter Free Zone in Gangtok is very high. Our target group now should be the people from outside Gangtok and All India Radio can be used as an effective medium to achieve this.


From the proposed number of 30 litterbins as of now only 10 has been put and an order for 10 more litter bins have already been placed.

It was observed  that the litter bins were abused badly as people were spitting on them and this has caused a lot of problem as a person would think twice before placing his litter in the bin as the bin is smeared with pan spit. The litterbin was designed in such a way that is  with a small opening so that the town dwellers do not junk their house hold garbage in the litterbins. After the observations and looking at the mistreated conditions of the litter bins a lot of suggestions were taken from the local shopkeepers and the street beautifiers. In the meeting held with the task force the group present decided and agreed to have litter bins that were bigger in size and with a tin tray on top filled with sand instead of the cover. This could be used as litter bin with the opening in the lower body of the bin and also as a spittoon on top which would be filled with sand.

It has finally decided not to have any more spittoons on M.G.Marg  as there is no space for it. The earlier idea to have spittoons fitted with pipes to the drains couldn’t be successful, as the drains weren’t under the space identified for the spittoons. With a lot of views from the shopkeepers, public, G.W.S.S.P& the U.D.H.D it has finally been decided only to have and few spittoons  and in lieu of it paan vendors would be told to have 2 buckets near their shops. The buckets would be of a uniform colour, filled with sand and have the word  “USE ME” written on them . It would be made compulsory for all the paan vendors to have these buckets.


A paucity of funds may lead to the activities of the Task Force being undermined


A small degree of awareness may be continued. Sponsored Street plays and Rallies by school children could be organized twice a month jointly by the Green Circle and the Task Force.

Three large hoardings on the Litter and Spit Free Zone need to be put up on the National Highway for the consumption of the tourists visiting Gangtok

Announcements for a week every month on All India Radio

The Task Force should be strengthened and be made more representative

A revenue model to sustain the activities of the Task Force should be worked out.

The fines, contributions and sponsorships from Street Plays/Rallies collected by the Task Force should be used for the following:

Payment of Salary of one Gangtok Beautifier who will function under the Task Force

Payment of Salary of two Sikkim Police Home Guards who will be responsible for imposition of fines

Upkeep and repair of litter bins

Clean Up Drives