Chennai: What does one do to bring about change? Well, two women from Seshadripuram in Velacheri, Chennai, show how it is done. A garbage bin which was a sore point in the neighbourhood was removed by the civic body after two residents- Beverly Vineeth and Karpagavalli Venkatesan- took up the issue.
The waste dumped into the bin overflowed onto the street, and it became risky for motorists (chances of skidding) and pedestrians.
“The bin was kept on the main road, adjoining three streets. We had seen people driving all the way here and flinging plastic carry bags of waste into the bin. Most often they don’t fall into the bin, and instead get scattered on the road. Once I even chased an office-goer who did this, but I could not catch him. We bore with the bad stink for over six months as the garbage was hardly cleared by the civic body. Accumulated waste began flowing onto our street and started blocking the rainwater harvesting pit,” says long-time resident Beverly Vineeth.
This is when she joined hands with her neighbour and friend Karpagavalli Venkatesan. On 18 June, the duo met Corporation Zonal head Paul Thangadurai in Adyar. But where and how will residents dispose off their household waste if the bin is removed? This was the question posed by the officer. Taking the opportunity, the officer spoke to them at length about solid waste management.
But the road to success was definitely not an easy one. Despite some opposition, majority of the neighbours stood with them to get the bin removed from the spot. The bin was eventually removed, but the place remained nasty. Beverly and Karpagavalli spent money, got labourers, cleaned, disinfected and levelled the place. They even put up a poster informing people not to dispose waste there.
“But it was disheartening to see waste being dumped here again. So we stayed up late, sometimes even till 1.30 am and 2 am, to ward off people,” says Karpagavalli.
Meanwhile, their husbands began working on setting up a compost pit. The women along with animator Jagatha went street by street, campaigning for solid waste management; they covered 76 houses.
Now, six families have started laying compost pits to deal with their degradable waste. And in the apartment where Beverly and Karpagavalli live, their respective husbands, Vineeth Kumar and Venkatesan have set up a four-feet deep decomposing pit with a manhole cover and pipe for air circulation/gas exhaust.
Karpagavalli has also contributed a sturdy plastic bin for dumping the non-biodegradable waste. Way to go women!