Waste segregation carried out at Asthiga Samajam in Chennai

Vidya Balakrishnan along with Udhay and Manjula, animator appointed by the Corporation.

Chennai: For the last two months, Venus Colony at Alwarpet had scores of people turning up to the locality as the head of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Vijayendra Saraswathi stayed in Asthiga Samajam to observe the Chaturmasya Vratam.

The Kanchi seer was present from 16 July till Friday and everyday rituals and poojas were conducted at the Samajam attracting many devotees. Any event of such magnitude would also produce lot of waste but the volunteer team headed by Vidya Balakrishnan, a resident of Venus Colony ensured that no waste goes to the landfill as all the biodegradable waste was sent for decomposing with the help of the corporation and Ramky conservancy workers.

Speaking to News Today about the waste segregation drive, Vidya says it was the experience of doing source segregation in her colony that came in handy when she was given the responsibility.

“I live in a gated community called Ashiana in Venus Colony. We have been practicing source segregation for 20 years now. We are a prototype for zero waste colony as we have our own compost pits and do source segregation. Whatever we learnt, we have been demonstrating it in the colony. We have created a group called Swacch Venus, through which we are emphasizing other residents of the colony to also do source segregation.”

“So when it was confirmed that Sankarachariyar would visit the Astiga Samajam, we knew that the waste generated everyday during his stay would be huge. Since we are already involved in source segregation we decided to do it here as well with help from Ramky conservancy workers and the corporation,” she adds.

For the last two months, on an average, the samajam generated nearly 650 kgs of waste every day which which was taken by the Ramky workers for composting in Teynampet. Vidya adds, “With poojas being performed everyday, lot of flower waste was genereated. Also food was prepared at the samajam for the devotees. So the biodegradable waste generated in the Samajam comprised of the vegetable and fruit waste as well. Our volunteer team ensured that the waste is segregated and then the Ramky workers would collect the waste and take it for composting.”

Five composting pits were provided for the Samajam’s waste alone temporarily and it was dumped there to generate manure. Apart from converting the waste into manure, the plantain leaves were also taken to the bio gas plant.
Talking about the team that was working behind the source segregation, she says, “We had many volunteers here who were doing different activities like queue management, distributing food and other jobs. We had nearly 20 people working on source segregation, who will supervise the segregation. The Ramky workers under Udhaya, a conservancy worker worked in five shifts a day and they took the waste to the composting pit. Udhaya had a team of seven people under him. Also, Manjula an animator, appointed by the corporation ensured that the biodegradable waste is converted into manure. All of us collectively worked to ensure that minimal waste goes to the landfill.”

Speaking about the challenges involved in doing source segregation in such a big scale, she says, “It was very challenging. On a particular day, there could be only 100, 200 people turning up, while on other days there would be more than a 1000 people. So people who take away the segregated waste needed to be prepared for all kinds of days. Also, the volunteers that we had were changing constantly and since they were doing source segregation for the first time, they had to be trained. But credits goes to Uday, yet again as whenever needed, his team was there to help which we could not expect from otherwise,” she concluded.

Aaditya Anand M