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Feb 10, 2009

‘Wealth Out Of Waste’ Scheme

Representatives of RAAC and ITC collecting paper waste from a resident at Income-Tax and Central Excise Officers’ Quarters in the city as part of ‘Wealth out of waste’ scheme. More residential colonies in the city are joining the ‘Wealth out of waste’ programme under which residents will hand over paper and plastic waste (bags and covers) to a private company and get paid for it.

From a situation wherein paper waste lay rotting with other garbage, it is now fetching reasonable sums of money for residents from ITC, the company that has joined hands with the Residents’ Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) to carry out this scheme. ITC pays Rs. 3 a kg for the waste. It recycles the waste to produce packing materials. ITC has given re-usable plastic bags to every house in six colonies. The paper waste -- ranging from bus tickets to paper wraps to pamphlets – and the plastic waste are stored in the bag and handed over to the waste collector sent by the company.

The waste is weighed in front of the resident and the money paid. RAAC joint secretary R. Raveendran says this programme has helped in creating a few model colonies that are now demonstrating the will to convert waste into wealth. What began in 350 houses at Bharathi Colony on July 5 last year now covers five other colonies namely, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, G.V. Residency, Kothari Nagar and four layouts close by, Kurichi Housing Unit and the Income-Tax and Central Excise officers’ colony off Sathyamangalam Road. Six gated community housing enclaves, five colleges, four schools and five industrial units have also joined the project. RAAC, which plays a major role in bringing the company and the residents together, says the response from the people is encouraging.

The Income-Tax and Central Excise Officers’ Colony is also into producing manure out of bio-degradable waste. “We have made an earnest beginning. We want to make this programme a success,” says Commissioner of Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax, Coimbatore, C. Rajendran, who is leading the residents of the colony in this programme. “We get a lot of guidance from RAAC and two faculty members from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Besides, there is tremendous response from the women and children. What is happening in this colony can serve as a model for gated communities elsewhere in the city,” he says.

Close to 40 tonnes of paper and plastics have been collected from the colonies, institutions and industrial houses so far under this project. The objective is to expand this programme to the rest of the city and collect 12 tonnes a month in each of the 72 wards using 30 workers, says Mr. Raveendran. A test case is on in Ward 6. RAAC says Corporation East Zone Chairman S.M. Samy has been working silently but effectively to make this programme a success in his zone of 18 wards. Kothari Nagar falls in his zone. He has also printed pamphlets that provide a list of guidelines to the public. “We need to involve the public and make use of opportunities that can help us create litter-free zones,” he says.

Secretary of Income-Tax and Central Excise Officials Quarters Welfare Association K.K. Vijayan says that young boys and girls in the colony are so involved in this project that they go door-to-door to distribute pamphlets. They also go to the upper floors in the quarters to collect waste from people who cannot climb down the stairs quickly to hand over the waste. Mr. Rajendran says people’s involvement in managing waste reduces the burden on the civic body. “We need not copy Western models. Let us devise ones that are suitable for the local conditions. What we are doing now seeks to demonstrate that solid waste management hinges on community participation.”

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