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A year on, waste segregation is a win-win for residents, corporation staff

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 It was exactly a year ago, on World Environment Day, that Trichy corporation opened a new chapter in its 24-year-old history by getting residents and commercial establishments to segregate waste at source. Now, as they take stock of the exercise which was aimed at getting rid of the waste generated as well as cashing in on it, the picture is rosy. The urban local body has thus far collected 8,604 tonnes of non-biodegradable waste alone and sold it for Rs 1.73 crore.

What is even more laudable is that the money thus received from the scrap dealers was equally shared among corporation sanitary workers every week, a win-win situation for the corporation, its workers and the residents as well. On June 5 last year, Trichy corporation, in a first among the ULBs, had floated a revised solid waste management practice insisting on residents to segregate waste at source before handing it over to sanitary workers during door-to-door waste collection. Though the move was criticised heavily in the beginning, the civic body said that people started adhering to the rule after a few months.
While non-biodegradable waste including plastic, glass and leather products wase collected only on Wednesdays, the biodegradable waste was collected on all other days. But the civic body from February this year started collecting biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste on all days separately. “Initially residents were reluctant to segregate the waste at source. After several round of campaigns and also by providing two bins free of cost, residents started segregating waste at source,” a sanitary official said.
Officials also added that contests run by the corporation, such as giving away gold coins every week for segregating waste before door-to-door waste collection, promoted waste segregation even to the last rung of the society. Apart from the 2,200-odd sanitary workers including outsourced workers employed across the 65 wards, more than 200 scrap dealers were roped in to collect potential reusable waste. They offered a price for it and the money generated went back to sanitary workers. By doing so, the corporation ensured that sanitary workers got an additional income of Rs 500 to Rs 800 (based on the effectiveness of waste collection) every week.
“Continuous awareness programmes were conducted to inculcate source segregation habit among locals. Mini trucks were purchased to ensure door-to-door waste collection, which altogether improved the efficiency of source segregation,” corporation commissioner N Ravichandran said. Besides cleanliness, sanitary workers claimed that they felt contended with the additional income they received every week by way of segregating the waste and selling the non-biodegradable waste for a price.

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