Over 30 streets in Triplicane zealously promote door-to-door collection of waste. Liffy Thomas reports
Many of the city's streets are an eyesore with open and overflowing garbage bins attracting stray cattle and dogs. Rag pickers also wade into these piles of trash. The root cause of the problem is the garbage bins themselves.
A group of residents from Triplicane are showing the way by trashing bins that are placed on streets. Instead, they are going from door to door to collect waste. The move was initiated by S. Lalitha and her neighbour Kalies Raj at Nallathambi Street in Triplicane after they realised that dustbins placed by the conservancy firm was of little use.
“There are 250 families living in the street. We went to every house asking residents not to dump waste in the bin. Two women were hired initially to collect the waste. The money collected from residents went towards paying them,” says Lalitha, an actor by profession.
The pilot project saw good results and residents in other streets started showing interest. Three women from the street approached the Corporation Office requesting them to remove bins kept at every street. Convincing the officials was not an easy task. “We asked them to give us two months' time and we would show the difference. We collected a letter of consent from every resident in the street,” she explains, taking us through the narrow by-lanes of Triplicane to show how clean streets can be.
Today, over 30 streets in Triplicane are emulating the award-winning idea (It won the Our Street award from the Mayor in 2012). Garbage bins are only seen at designated dumping points.
In the last one year, Lalitha has brought nearly 20 volunteers (residents) under the banner Pasumai. “The local councillor and Corporation staff were impressed with our model and Pasumai has offered to oversee the working of Ramky's conservancy staff,” says the 50-year-old, who aggressively campaigns for the community-driven garbage disposal model. A tri-cycle goes whistling from street to street from 6.30 a.m. to collect waste. Working professionals who are not available when the tri-cycle arrives leave the waste at the doorstep, while residents in apartment complexes collect waste in a bin. It was difficult to convince resident to keep waste till the tri-cycle arrived. “People in orthodox homes would argue that they leave the left over food packet for the cattle to feed. We would often pick an argument but at the end we convinced them how litter-free roads can be,” says G. Gopal Vittal, a member of Pasumai.
Once a week, Lalitha goes from street to street, speaking into a mike, asking people not to throw any form of waste outside the house. Many listen to me, she agrees, because of profession. Pasumai meets every Saturday to discuss erring residents and improving amenities. Next, it is working to end the cattle menace in Triplicane and start source segregation of waste.
Lalitha can be reached at 9884668220.