They segregate and help to dispose of plastic waste

Each morning, the residents of this ‘home’ in R.S. Puram take pains to carefully clear their premises of all plastic items. They deposit them in a corner of the home from where it is handed over to a Corporation Waste Collector once a week.

What makes this seemingly ordinary activity quite remarkable is the fact that the residents are the inmates of a Corporation night shelter.

Most of them are senior citizens, abandoned by their families, with no means of livelihood, or shelter. They are largely found at railway stations and bus stops with nowhere to go and most of the time not knowing where they have come from.

The railway police or city police rescue them, on being alerted by members of the public, and leave them in the care of the shelter where most of them find succour in their last days.

Several of them are above 90 years and can barely walk, even with the support of a cane. Many suffer from impairments such as physical, mental, hearing and speech. Almost all of them are illiterate.

And yet, thanks to their interest to do something for society, these elders are more than willing to do their bit for a better future, says G. Gangadharan, president of ‘Malarum Vizhigal,’ which runs the Corporation Night Shelter.

It all began when the inmates got an opportunity to listen to a counselling session in which the hazardous nature of plastic was explained.

Following this, all the plastic wastes such as bottles, covers, buckets and cups found on the premises of the home are collected and stacked neatly near the entrance.

“The shelter is given Rs. 3 per kilogram of plastic waste. This revenue is used to purchase newspapers and magazines, which are read out to the inmates of the shelter,” he says.

One of the inmates of the home says they do not look at this effort as a burden, for they are doing something for the benefit of Nature.

Another says the inmates have eschewed the use of plastic cups for drinking tea and coffee and utilise only steel tumblers.

Repeated zealously every day, this exercise follows the repeated exhortations of Corporation Commissioner G. Latha on segregation of solid wastes into bio-degradable and non bio-degradable in recent days.

City Health Officer P. Aruna has also encouraged them in this venture, adds another inmate.

Mr. Gangadharan, who is the caretaker of the night shelter, says they have 100 inmates, most of whom are from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and even Punjab.

More In: Coimbatore