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Chennai shows us a profitable way to dispose of garbage

April 14, 2007

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.

Related Reading: A green oscar for India
The importance of growing organic food
Global measures against plastic and what India is doing

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2007 8:05 am

    Officials are never bothered about these real issues. They get votes anyway.

    Good to know someone taking nice initiative to keep city clean. I really hope other cities catch up. Volunteers can make lot of difference.

  2. Seran permalink
    April 24, 2007 5:57 pm

    It is indeed a great work carried out by the local people of Pammal, and this should be a god source of inspiration for many to keep the places clean.

    I would like to raise few issues here:

    1. Being independent for nearly 60 years, it is sad to see no proper waste management system in India, and for the workers involved in cleaning the garbage, no proper gloves are given for safety (I’ve seen some of them).

    There should be a proper waste management system and an environment protection system/law, which will protect our own environment, resources like water etc.

    I live in Bangalore. I’ve often read in papers that some local ministers/mayor travel to so and so country to get a view of their infrastructure and policies. Our law makers should inspire atleast seeing from other countries.

    2. Government is not the only body responsible for it, even our own people ignore our environment. People throwing bus ticketd, papers, wastes in puplic place is a common thing happening in most of the cities in India.

  3. October 30, 2007 12:14 am

    we want to know how do people dispose of dangerous waste materils such as medical wast if you do get this pst asap

  4. Abhinav Sharma permalink
    December 18, 2007 11:54 pm

    This is Abhinav Sharma, i am very keen to know about your project. I am very impressed with that you did in chennai. That’s really a good step to give a wake up call to our lathergic government.

    I am 21 year old and i have an enthusiasm to enter in this activity where i would like to devote my effort, time delibrately to make my city clean and to earn a bread & butter for poor people to get themselves in this activity.

    Even since i saw your website, i am taking a interest to make a special group to collect a garrbage from my city and make my city clean. That result might be economic development or to remove the unemployement. But i don’t have an very much idea about the recycling units. There is a saying that if you get the someone who holds your finger and make you for a walk. like that you might be the one…..after get inspire i want to go through it.

    You could tell me about this to collect- till-recycling units.

    From two or three days i am looking for that where i would despose the garbage if collect from the public.

    That one is the question which one’s answer i am looking for to put my effort in make my city clean. I hope like chinnai, i can be put my effort in delhi’s rural area’s where we need to think about it because our future only be make from there.

    I hope you will provide me the details:

    1)How can i start this in my area.

    2)Where should i drop the garbage after collecting from door to door.

    3)what are the recycling units.

    Thanking You


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