Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Where residents take charge

Where residents take charge

Kumara Park West shows BBMP the way to efficient solid waste management

Sunitha Rao R. Bangalore



Here is an initiative sustained by the zeal of residents, with a little help from the government. Residents of Kumara Park extension have been working towards making their locality a garbage-free one, reducing garbage to the extent possible and re-using and re-cycling whatever possible. At the forefront of this unique citizens' initiative is NS Ramakanth, who returned to the city some years ago after serving a long stint with a private firm in Germany. He was also president of the residents' welfare association of Kumara Park west.
When Ramakanth first moved back into the city a couple of years ago, he started teaching himself solid waste disposal methods. Nothing is 'waste' until it is considered so, he says, echoing Shakespeare: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
What is considered waste could well be a bio-resource, says Ramakanth. He persuaded his neighbours to follow his point of view, and nearly 4,500 households in the area began to treat garbage scientifically, separating all household waste into 'wet' and 'dry' garbage before disposal.
"When wet waste is mixed with dry waste, the mixture just cannot be used at all," says Ramakanth. The residents of Kumara Park have taken to separating the paper and plastic waste that could be re-cycled. These are collected in separate bags, and retained in the house till, once every week, a truck is sent to collect the dry garbage. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike has offered residents storage space in Malleswaram, where the dry waste can be stocked. The India Tobacco Company (ITC) then collects the waste periodically from the store, for the purpose of re-cycling.
The re-cycling of plastic waste is handled by a firm called KK Plastics, that uses the plastic to generate material used for asphalting roads. "Kasturba Road was one of the roads asphalted with such re-cycled plastic," says a proud Ramakanth. The process, with time, is getting streamlined—while the early days of the campaign saw the generation of about 900 kg of plastic and paper in November 2008, a year later, 12 tonnes of paper waste and 2 tonnes of plastic waste were collected for recycling. "This process helps us keep our neighbourhood clean; what is more, we help save water and pulp that are used in the process of manufacturing paper," says Ramakanth.
While the BBMP continues to collect the area's wet waste, the quantity of waste delivered for processing to the civic body has reduced substantially each day — from nearly 20 tonnes before the campaign began, to about four tonnes at present.
"We are keen that even the storage space for the dry waste does not look like a dumping yard; even that space can be well-maintained," says Ramakanth.
"We took a little while to get used to the segregation of waste at home," says Veda R, a resident of Kumara Park. "I have now taught even my maid to separate the two varieties of waste. The process makes it so much easier to manage the city's solid waste, and it should be followed widely," she says.

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