It has become next to impossible to find a street in Puducherry where garbage is not piled up in the corner with community dogs and stray cattle foraging through it.
Against the backdrop of a multitude of problems plaguing solid waste management in Puducherry, including allegations of corruption in waste handling and complaints of inefficient service, Shilpataru, an artists group, has chosen ‘Up-Cycled Art’ as the theme for their event (March 1 to 8) this year which is being held at the Art Beat gallery on Perumal Koil Street.
The event features seven art works, which use trash material in creative ways to depict the garbage problem and environmental hazards with the aim to make people conscious towards an attitudinal change in how waste is disposed. “As artists, we are more sensitive to the garbage situation around us, and want to do something about it,” said Kirti Chandak from Shilpataru.
In the giant sized installation piece, ‘Next Step?’ by Shanmugam H., which has been placed at the entry to the Art Beat gallery, the artist has depicted the earth as being crowded with trash and plastic, and a child attempting to crawl out of this dire situation.
Jagatram Meher has created an art work which uses broken glass pieces from accident sites. Other artists have used different material such as coconut shells and fibre, plastic bottles and packing material.
Waste segregation is key
The organisers have also lined up talks and presentations by experts at the Art Beat gallery on innovative solutions to waste management. The waste generated in India comprises 50 per cent organic waste and 35 per cent recyclable products, said Niranjan Kumar from Auroville-based EcoPro during a talk on Tuesday.
If waste is properly segregated at source, then only 13 per cent needs to go to the landfill, he said. Mr. Kumar explained to the audience a joint Indo-French government pilot project done in Karaikal. The project, which began in 2013, has covered 2,500 houses in two wards, and used awareness building in the community and capacity building for the municipality staff.
The houses were given separate bins for kitchen waste and other waste, and the sanitation workers carried out a door-to-door waste collection system. A group of 24 sanitation workers were chosen for the project, and they were given training in composting and recycling.
“Composting is an integral solution for solid waste management in India as the proportion of kitchen waste is higher here,” said Mr. Kumar. EcoPro promotes the use of Effective Micro-organisms for composting, and encourages households to make their own compost.
On Thursday at 5 p.m., Ragupathy from ‘Hand in Hand’ Chennai will give a presentation on the successful work done at Mamallapuram in managing waste . This will be followed by a talk on Friday, 6 p.m., by Sunil Bhondge from ‘Greeny’ in Pune on how zero waste can be achieved in a sustainable manner. Mr. Bhondge will also be leading a workshop on waste segregation at source on Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by a neighbourhood walk to study the waste management situation here. On the final day on Sunday, Umapathy V. will conduct a workshop on upcycled art 3 p.m., followed by the screening of a documentary film at 6 p.m. on the waste situation in Puducherry.