Waste Management

Have you walked around your city lately, and observed the collapsed Electricity Board wires and mounds of garbage near various government departments? Or the remnants from so called developmental work undertaken by the state or the various parastatal agencies? Even as we talk about waste and what can be done to manage household/industrial waste more effectively, piles of unattended debris and confiscated vehicles dumped by various government departments stand as testimony to the inaction by the Tamil Nadu Government. While the Chennai Corporation is frequently under fire for being unable to check dumping of unprocessed waste near water bodies or…

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Come November, along with swollen waterways and flooded streets, another prominent image flashed repeatedly on television screens is that of mountains of mixed garbage. Chennai’s solid waste headache is by no means entirely monsoon-related. But the issue manages to capture the media’s attention around this time of the year mostly because unregulated dumping tends to disrupt waterways in many parts. Intensified waterlogging and heightened public health concerns closely follow. The city has two dumping grounds spread across 400 plus acres in Kodungaiyur and Perungudi, both of which have been in existence for over 25 years. These dump yards handle anywhere…

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So October 2 has come and gone. We duly remembered Mahatma Gandhi on his birthday, and went about our usual business. A few people also speak about cleanliness in our public spaces, since it is also "Swacch Bharat" Day. From this day, source segregation of waste will be mandatory in Chennai -  the city that generates the largest per capita amount of garbage in the country. The Greater Chennai Corporation has been reaching out to all the different categories of waste generators – residential, commercial and industrial- with suggestions, recommendations and guidelines. It is no doubt a great start, but…

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A few days ago, I read on an online news website, that the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) was planning to make source segregation of waste mandatory for all residents, beginning October 2, 2017. If this was true, it was music to the ears of citizens like me – segregation maniacs that have been trying to get their family members, neighbours etc to segregate household waste at source – but with very limited success. Chennai reportedly generates the highest per capita garbage among the large metros in India – 750 gms per person per day, and we send about 5000 tons…

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In the late 1980s, when the term “waste management” had not gained much currency in Indian cities, a banker-turned-environmental activist M B Nirmal started a cleanliness movement in Chennai. Called the Civic Exnora, it was considered as one of the largest environmental and civic movements having happened in the urban India. Civic Exnora was founded in 1989 by M B Nirmal who was then an officer with the Indian Overseas Bank. Exnora was started in an attempt to create awareness about cleanliness. Back in the 90s, the organisation played a major role in motivating and involving neighbourhoods in systematic waste…

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It has been a year since Dr D Karthikeyan took charge as the Commissioner of Greater Chennai Corporation. Within a few months of him taking charge as the commissioner, he was accorded the additional responsibility of holding the Special Officer’s post in the absence of a council which ended its term last October. GCC is not new to Karthikeyan. It is for the third time that he is serving as the Commissioner of the Greater Chennai Corporation. In a quick chat with Citizen Matters, the Corporation Commissioner speaks about some of the significant issues bothering the city. Excerpts from the…

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Mere formation of a body, planning and allocation of funds to rejuvenate the water bodies cannot be the ideal solution to the water crises that we have in our nation, said Dr Rajendra Singh Prasad, better-known as Waterman of India, at a gathering in Chennai last weekend at Goethe-Institut. The discussion on making Tamil Nadu drought-free was organised by Goethe-Institut, Chennai in association with Asian College of Journalism, Confluence 10, Kalakshetra Foundation and with coordination of several other colleges, universities and NGOs. “We must start a dialogue with the Government for identifying, demarcating and notifying the water bodies. Once it…

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Climatic and non-climatic factors intersect and create an entire tribe of marginalized and vulnerable people. Incidentally they form a large proportion of the informal economy of Bengaluru and other cities. This photo essay looks at the living and working conditions of one of the most marginalized groups in Bengaluru namely the waste pickers. The focus is on those who live in undeclared, blue tent, temporary squatter settlements. Our field research revealed that most of the inhabitants in these settlements are migrants from West Bengal, a distinct region in the East of India. For the residents of the informal settlements that…

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It was August 2016. I chanced upon a Conservancy worker in Rail Nagar near Koyambedu segregating the 'waste' that was dumped into a plastic packet and suddenly found something like human excreta on her bare hands. I was shocked and asked how she got that. She said she had been asked by officers above her to separate the wet waste (mainly kitchen waste) and dry waste and put them into separate bins. I asked her whether the people who dump all their waste in one plastic bag would not segregate the different types of waste themselves if asked to, and…

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Our first reaction when we see litter on the streets, dump yards along our highway or near our home, street animals eating the bits of rubbish along with the plastic covers:  Uuhgghh….!! Can anything at all be done to end this? Can’t the government do something to clean up? Can we stop rampant garbage burning? Only about 25% of the waste generated in Chennai is treated, the rest is merrily added to the waste dumps, creating pollution and in-turn affecting our health. Can we do something about this? Exploring these questions, some of us at Bhumi NGO decided to start by…

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