A need for long-term solutions for a cleaner locality

Garbage dumped in the alleys between apartments in Lock Nagar.   | Photo Credit: RAGU R

Bhavani Angel, who used to work in a play school but lost work due to COVID-19, is part of a women’s group being formed by Urbaser-Sumeet to take a participatory role in making Lock Nagar a model locality for waste management.

She remembers a time when another private agency handling garbage collection for the Greater Chennai Corporation launched similar initiatives in her locality. “It all worked for a while with the initial enthusiasm. Soon after, people went back to their old ways of dumping waste in common areas,” she said.

Acknowledging that awareness and consequent attitudinal change among individuals were key to bringing change, she, however, added that there were inherent problems that discouraged people from proper disposal and segregation of waste.

Residents of Lock Nagar, for instance, complained about lack of space in their TNSCB apartments to keep two separate bins for green and dry waste.

“Our kitchens are so small with barely any space for more than one person to stand,” said R. Meena, a resident.

Similarly, many people pointed out that they used old buckets or containers to collect waste and buying bins would be an investment that many in the low-income neighbourhood would not be willing to do. Another woman highlighted that it was difficult for those residing in the second and third floors to come down for dumping the garbage since there were no lifts.

All these have resulted in people throwing garbage in the narrow lanes between apartment blocks, which have become unusable. “The windows in the kitchens face these lanes. It is easy to toss the garbage through the window. That is what most people do,” Bhavani Balan, another resident, said, and added that though there had been attempts to clean up the lanes, they remained clean only for a few days.

S. Sumathi Manimaran, team leader, Information, Communication and Education (IEC) division at Urbaser-Sumeet, who is working with residents of the locality, said a detailed study with feedback from residents had been conducted.

Stating that the company was in the process of developing a model that would best suit the locality, she pointed out for instance that they were not planning to insist on having two bins at every household.

“We have observed that the plastic waste generated is quite minimum here, with mostly milk packets and small sachets of groceries or snacks. They can just collect it separately and bring it along with the green waste while dumping it to the bin,” she said.

As the tendency has been to throw garbage out of the kitchen window, another suggestion that came up during the interaction with the women was to hang two colour-coded bath mugs on the windows to put dry and green wastes. “These will not occupy any space as well,” she said.

Apart from a slew of awareness initiatives involving children and sports activities, Shamini Nagarajan, assistant manager, IEC, Urbaser-Sumeet, said that the company was also planning to keep bins near each apartment block so that residents do not have to walk long distances and form monitoring committees to ensure a long-term solution.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 8:52:34 PM |

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