A reader of TOI article – OMR residents go on trash-busting drives – left a comment, asking “Where does the garbage and trash go? How do you transport it ?” Philo Stalwin, a resident of Kelambakkam, provides the answer: In a mail to OMR Greens Stalwin says the garbage that the local panchayat collects from households and streets is dumped in make-shift landfill by the side of a lake behind the Puravankara residential complex that is under construction. The trash heap is set on fire , every other night, burning the dump to make space for more garbage.
Trash that is burnt, unsorted, may include used tyre, plastics, spent battery, expired medicine , and substances generating toxic fume that spread in the wind in populated neigbourhoods. Isn’t it time people living in emerging high-rise buildings took congnizance of this smouldering health hazard ?
Skeptics ask OMR Greens, ‘what is the big deal in trash-busting when garbage gets dumped at the same spot the day after it is done’? Trash-busting is not a waste disposal solution, but a token initiative by a community group, to create public awareness that waste disposal problem can only get worse, and eventually, unmanageable, if we continue to ignore it. And a solution has to be sought with community participation.
OMR Greens is for a cluster approach to creating infrastructure, for effective waste and sewage disposal. Government and civic bodies never allocate adequate funds . Trash-busting is our ways of mobilizing support for setting up area-specific, locality-wise waste-to-energy plant. It is a residents initiative to bring together, neighbourhood people, panchayat, and property developers , as joint stakeholders in creating and sustaining social assets such as waste-to-energy plants, sewage-free neighbourhood lakes, community tree-planting in public space.
Hand-in-Hand, an NGO runs Mamallapuram waste-to-energy unit fed on kitchen waste collected from households, restaurants, and hotels. They generate energy enough to light their 3-acre unit, and also the street that leads from the plant to ECR. The land for the waste conversion unit has been given by the local panchayat. The Mamallapuram waste-to-energy plant is located on land that was used as a trash dump by the civic authorities.
Kelambakkam panchayat can learn a lesson here. What they can do :
1) Set aside , for waste-energy conversion plant, a part of the land that is now used for dumping and burning trash;
3) Convene a ‘town-hall’ public hearing, to share with residents project details, and proposal for a monthly waste-disposal charges (like OMR Expressway toll) to be collected from residents, shops, eating houses and corporates located in the panchayat area; and
4) Levy social infrastructure fee on property developers, in proportion to the scale, size and the number of apartments.