RAPRA is focussing on making residents deposit garbage in the designated bins at the designated time

On Sunday morning, around 100 residents of Raja Annamalai Puram – under the banner of Raja Annamalaipuram Residents’ Association (RAPRA) – marched forward holding placards and blaring messages from a loudspeaker about taking ownership of their streets, keeping them litter-free and minimising the use of plastics. And, supporting them were representatives from Chennai Municipal Solid Waste Pvt. Ltd and the Chennai Corporation.

In the immediate future, RAPRA is focussing on making residents deposit garbage in the designated bins at the designated time, said Arun Diwakaran, resident and programme coordinator, RAPRA. “After this, our plan is to speak to secretaries of apartments to understand how they are managing waste disposal and talk to independent house owners about composting,” he said.

This model of collective action – commendable although not new to the city – could address core solid-waste problems only if it moves beyond efficient waste collection toward source segregation and local recycling of organic waste, say experts.

Zone 9, to which the area belongs, generates 640-650 tonnes of garbage on an average daily, of which between 40-45 tonnes is garden waste, said K. Mukund, zonal head, CMSW, who also participated. Of the three zones, that CMSW handles, zone 9 generates the maximum garbage. But, this is also because, it has more number of wards, he noted. But, composting at the neighbourhood level, he added, needed both time and space, and both have to be arranged for it to work.

R. Chandrasekaran, patron, RAPRA and resident of RA Puram, said that 90 per cent of the garbage disposal problem can be solved by residents. “We are requesting residents to inform CMSW in advance if they are going to trim branches, so that arrangements can be made for its disposal. Similarly for debris,” Dr. Chandrasekaran said.

But, talking about source-segregation may be premature now, noted K.T. Anantharama Sarma, secretary, and resident of 4th main road. “We have made a beginning by bringing the residents together to keep our streets clean. People are interested in source-segregation. If officials give guidance and show involvement it will definitely materialise in time,” he said.

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