An eWaste drive with a local address

Snapshots of the eWaste drive at Manapakkam. Photos: special arrangement   | Photo Credit: L Kanthimathi and M Vedhan

The two-day eWaste and old clothes collection drive at Manapakkam (October 23-24) was roughed in at informal chats, largely on WhatsApp, between parents. Before SARS-COV-2 got the universe to socialise hunched over laptops and thumbing on mobiles, these parents would meet while dropping and picking up their children at school.

A year ago, the friendship forged through brief corridor conversations and online chats led them to form a loosely structured group, Friends of Manapakkam.

It was decided the group would volunteer for activities for the locality’s betterment, primarily in solid waste management. However, while the destination was marked, the ticket for the ride was missing. To put it plainly, they did not have a crystallised idea of how to go about their self-imposed goal.

While hanging hopelessly in that space between resolution and action, one of them, Abitha went to an eWaste collection drive in Adyar, initiated in March this year by Residents of Kasturba Nagar Association (ROKA).

While she emptied her bag crammed with electronic discards, a workable idea popped right into that bag and she took it to Manapakkam.

When the other members of the group heard what it was, the ball was set rolling.

“My son is studying at Lalaji Memorial Omega International School in Kolappakam, and I have made many friends from the school. These are also mothers of students at the school — Radhika, Deepa and Anandhi — and we are basically interested in solid waste management and the three Rs philosophy. When I attended the ROKA eWaste drive, a thought struck me. Not many people would want to travel far to drop their eWaste and any other recyclable waste such as old clothes. These days people do not mind spending money, but they do mind how their time is spent. So, having a drive primarily targeting people within a two to three kilometre radius, but keeping it open for anyone from anywhere seemed like a great idea.”

When Abitha contacted Janani Venkitesh, Secretary of ROKA, seeking the Adyar group's guidance in organising a similar drive in Manapakkam, the response was hugely encouraging.

“Their thinking was aligned with ROKA’s. We want more volunteers and communities across neighbourhoods to conduct ewaste collection drives locally and they should not primarily depend on ROKA to conduct drives. So, we agreed to help out,” recalls Janani.

The help included getting the seal of approval and support, which includes finding a venue, from local Greater Chennai Corporation officials. The process after the collection is crucial and laborious as the assortment of collected waste should be separated and sent to the right recyclers. It is one of the areas where the ROKA eWaste drives have shown application and system.

“Soon thereafter, I and Saranya, another ROKA volunteer met them, and it was almost finalised that it would happen in April.”

But the Coronavirus had other plans. The ravaging second wave wiped out every thought of an eWaste drive.

“Around the second wave, we had had only the first dose and we thought it prudent to have the eWaste drive later,” recalls Abitha.

Going through the entire process again, which includes meeting local GCC officials, the event is now being organised at .

Abitha believes even if 10 p.c. of the population participates in the drive, the objective would

be met. Ten percent should amount to quite a number of residents.

The population consists of many domiciliaries drawn to the locality for the schools the locality counts, as also for the quick access it provides to some IT parks.

Going by an observation from Abitha, one tinged with obvious hyperbole, Manapakkam and its surroundings are an oversized school zone that pretends to be a locality.

In truth, the locality cannot be pigeonholed into a pat, uni-dimensional category — that of course goes for any locality

“There are many schools, and it is also an IT area,” remarks Abitha after some thought, and is hopeful that many residents would warm up to the eWaste initiative.

Alagu Karthikeyan, who recently shifted to Manapakkam from Second Main Road in Kasturba Nagar where she was a ROKA volunteer, notes that the presence of many gated communities in Manapakkam makes it easier for the eWaste campaign to reach people.

“One just has to get in touch with the committee members and they would take it forward.”

The people who are inviting themselves to the party are what makes the heart glow with resplendent happiness.

“We are using every avenue possible to spread the word about the event. They are getting calls from Sowcarpet and Anna Nagar. When they receive calls from residents for far-flung areas, they are excited and I can relate to that. We went through same excitement when our drives evoked such responses,” observes Janani, adding that she, Saranya and two other ROKA volunteers would be in attendance during the two days to smoothen any possible wrinkles in the process.

Says Abitha, “Now, we are reassuring others who are interested in having an eWaste drive in their neighbourhoods that they can count on our support. I got a call from a resident from Kattankulathur: I told them that if they started something, we would be there for them.”

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 11:16:34 AM |

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