Chennai

How animator Jegadha nudges change about managing waste

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This May, M. Jegadha rejoined duty after a two-month medical leave, necessitated by a cancer diagnosis. Since her return to work, she is said to have made an impact — once again.

Residents of Sarathy Nagar and Seshadripuram are generous in their praise of how she quickly helped them regain momentum in waste segregation.

Jegadha (39) is an animator for Ward 179 in Zone 13 of Greater Chennai Corporation, and her job involves spreading awareness among residents about environment-friendly waste-disposal. Animators are contract employees appointed under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission).

Jegadha was appointed animator in March 2018 and her first assignment had to do with Ward 177.

“During the interview, I was asked to enact how to address people. I had the experience of addressing people over mike as I had worked as a campaigner for a political party. I was also a booth-level agent representing the party during the last State Assembly election in 2016. So, I had some awareness about the population and areas in Ward 177. These factors gave an edge in the interview,” says Jegadha, who is also a tailor.

In Ward 177, she managed to get two apartment complexes in Adambakkam to initiate waste-segregation practices. Within one year of her new job, she was diagnosed with third-stage breast cancer. Her family wanted her to quit the job, and be focussed on having the cancer treated in the best manner possible.

“I could not afford to lose this job. A few top Zonal officials who were impressed with my work advised me to go on leave. They had said that if my health improved after treatment and I could join duty in two months the officials were willing to retain the job for me. By God’s grace, I recuperated and I joined duty this May. After treatment, I had developed some inhibitions about facing people as I had lost all my hair due to chemotherapy. But I did not allow it to come in the way of dispensing my duty,” says Jegadha.

On her return to work, she was assigned Ward 179, and her fresh stint has been pleasant on account of the whole-hearted cooperation from residents.

“As part of my job, I spread awareness about waste-management among residents, conservancy workers, owners and staff of business establishments and school and college students. I talk to them about segregating decomposable, non-decomposable and sanitary waste and also about composting. Awareness about sanitary waste is considerably low. Many people assume that only diapers and napkins constitute sanitary waste. In fact, ear-buds, used shaving razors, cut nails, fallen hair and cut hair are all categorised as sanitary waste. I also talk about the essential features of SWM Rules 2016. Following the water crisis, GCC wanted me create awareness about rainwater harvesting. Now, with the onset of monsoon, I have also been instructed to organise awareness programmes about dengue. Before the recently-held Lok Sabha elections, I had to educate people in my Ward about the importance of voting,” says Jegadha.

(‘They also serve’ is a column about people occupying less-known positions in government departments but meet a keenly-felt need among residents)

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 5:36:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/how-animator-jegadha-nudges-change-about-managing-waste/article29863323.ece

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