This is the state of a large space behind Dr Radhakrishna Puram, a TNSCB (Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board) tenement in Greenways Road, R. A. Puram.
Mounds of garbage is seen strewn here and dirt water flows alongside.
This colony, with more than 1000 residents is located near the Greenways Road MRTS station, off the Buckingham Canal.
Long before Chennai Corporation stepped in with its zero waste campaign, the residents of Radhakrishna Puram and it’s surrounding streets had a waste management system in place.
Till about one month ago, the residents say they were segregating waste by themselves with the help of Alwarpet-based NGO Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG). Says Mala, a resident, “Two years ago, the volunteers of CAG persuaded us to do waste segregation, hence we started the process.”
Since then, two residents Mala and Geeta have been doing door-to-door collection of segregated waste.”Initially, it was very difficult for us as many people were not co-operating. But later, when the NGO started giving attractive gifts like tiffin boxes, cloth bags, and eco-friendly products all the residents of our colony got involved and within a few months, they got habituated to the process,” explains Geeta.
The duo said that biodegradable waste would be composted at the NGO’s premises.”CAG would then sell the compost to public. They were also paying us a salary as we collected the waste at every door daily,” she says.
Recently, when Chennai Corporation launched its own door-to-door waste collection and composting, the local effort was defeated.
Ironically, for some weeks now, the civic agency has not moved up in its campaign. “So people are back to throwing the waste in the large open space near the Canal. This has ruined the efforts we took to make our neighbours segregate waste,” complains Mala.
However, some households continue to segregate their waste. And dump some of it in waste bins.
“There are not enough bins in our area. The conservancy workers do not come here to collect waste,” says Miniamma, a resident.
Chennai Corporation’s Conservancy Inspector (CI) of ward 122 who has been newly appointed at this ward says, “I will ask our workers to clear the garbage from the area immediately.”
K.Vamsi, a senior researcher at CAG says, “Our team along with the former CI of ward 122 were planning to construct compost structures at this land to carry out composting locally but permission for constructing the same was pending with PWD (Public Works Department). We are planning to collaborate with the new CI to follow up on this issue soon.”
Just the example to show how state-run agencies negate positive civic action set by NGOs and practiced by residents.