Chennai shows us a profitable way to dispose of garbage
Pammal is a wonderful example of how people can get together and keep their area clean. In/near Chennai there is a place called Pammal where an NGO and a corporate (PepsiC0) have set up a partnership. At one time Pammal was one of the dirtiest places going, but now its spic and span. In fact the people were so fed up with the lethargy of the administration that they took matters into their own hands. A self help group started the project, and managed to get some funding. And more funding. Now they are making profits by manufacturing compost from the garbage collected. Other materials like plastics are sold to recycling units. This has also generated jobs for the poor.
This plan, the `Zero Solid Waste Management’ plan as its called, has been so successful that it has been attracting visitors from all over the country. This project started quite a many years ago, but is now getting a lot of publicity.
Not surprisingly it was a group of women who spearheaded this venture as they were fed up living in a dirty environment and were worried because their children were falling sick due to the unhygienic surroundings. Sometimes the situation has to become an extreme one before it galvanises people into action! Remember Surat? It was one of the dirtiest cities in India until the plague hit. Then it rapidly became the cleanest! Some say that now its not that clean anymore..
Well, other local bodies are taking lessons from Pammal’s success. Experts, planners, environmentalists and administrators from various parts of India and even overseas students are visiting to study Pammal. But oddly enough when the project started and even when it was proved successful, the state government showed little interest in it. Even though garbage disposal was a problem in many areas. Why should they anyway? The government will never have the will to clean up its act, ever, because it doesn’t need to for its survival. For votes it depends on caste and minority politics. People don’t vote in or vote out a government depending on how efficient it is. They go by rhetoric and their emotions are easily aroused by talk of caste and religion.