Three areas of Chennai become model localities for waste management

Urbaser-Sumeet, the private conservancy company handling the drive, aims to showcase the feasibility of 100% waste segregation at source, composting and recycling

Urbaser-Sumeet, the company that has taken over garbage collection and transport and cleaning of streets in seven of the 15 zones of the Greater Chennai Corporation, has launched an initiative to transform three localities into models for waste management.

These include Lock Nagar, major parts of Raja Annamalai Puram and some parts of Moores Road. While the initiative has been launched in Lock Nagar and Raja Annamalai Puram, preparatory work is under way for Moores Road.

Representatives of Urbaser-Sumeet said apart from showcasing through these localities that 100% segregation at source, composting and recycling were possible, the initiative would help in understanding key challenges and possible solutions so that the same could be emulated in other areas.

While Lock Nagar, with low-income households, and Raja Annamalai Puram, with predominantly high income households, are different types of localities, V.R. Hari Balaji, head of the Information, Communication and Education (IEC) division at Urbaser-Sumeet, said both had their challenges.

“In both localities, we find a section of the population complying with segregation at source or willing to do so, and another section who are a bit reluctant,” he said.

The entirety of Lock Nagar, which mainly comprises the 10 Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board apartment blocks, has been brought under this initiative. In Raja Annamalai Puram, seven main roads, three cross roads and Canal Bank Road have been included.

Mr. Hari Balaji said the initiative involved several phases, namely the empathise, ideate, prototype, test and launch phases. There were close interactions with residents in each of these phases, he added.

Prototype phase

“We are in the prototype phase now, where we will be designing practices that best work for each locality,” he said.

“For instance, we observed in Lock Nagar that people buy groceries on a daily basis and a lot of the waste was plastic sachets. Hence, we are tying up with local grocers to reward residents for returning used empty sachets. They can buy something in exchange for returning a certain number of sachets,” Mr. Hari Balaji said. While collection of waste, segregation at source and dumping of waste were some key challenges in Lock Nagar, residents of Raja Annamalai Puram expressed different needs for making their locality a model locality.

Pointing out that a large section of the apartment complexes and residents were already segregating waste at source, T.N. Srinivas, vice-president, Raja Annamalai Puram Residents’ Association (RAPRA), said a key concern was the mixing of garbage in the battery operated vehicles (BOVs) and on the roadside bins.

“This defeats the purpose and demoralises those who are segregating. We have expressed this to Urbaser-Sumeet and we are seeing some changes,” he said.

Mr. Srinivas stressed on the need for improved colour-coding of bins in the battery-operated vehicles so that it was easier for the operator and also for residents to ensure that their segregated waste was being dumped into the right bin. “Right now, all these bins are grey and the sign boards are not prominent,” he said.

“We would also like to move towards bin-less streets and also composting and recycling of the collected green and dry waste,” he said.

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