ApnaComplex, ReapBenefit, CHF Global communities and CSA-Christ University is organizing a workshop on waste management pinning on how apartments can take charge and manage its own waste.
With the Mandur Landfill slatted to close down on December 1st, the city’s garbage has nowhere to go. At the very least there is going to be a widespread disruption to the garbage collection and disposal. In light of this, Reap Benefit along with its partners ApnaComplex, CHF Global communities and CSA-Christ University is organizing a workshop on how apartments can take charge and manage its own waste.
Takeaway for apartments:
Are you complying with present rules and regulations?
How do you involve residents and implement a successful waste management program
How do you manage kitchen waste, recycle your dry waste and dispose of rejects?
A comprehensive product guide for processing wet bio-degradable waste in Apartments and Gated Communities – by Wake up, Clean up Bengaluru.
The guide helps apartments and gated communities with options and list of providers to implement the recommendation of in-situ processing of wet waste with in the apartment complex or gated communities. Answers to frequently asked questions on why Apartments should process their own waste are also present.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s new Solid Waste Management policy seems to be more of a knee-jerk reaction than a well thought-out plan, as it passes on the task of waste management to the general public without outlining clear solutions for the existing problem.
Apartment owners, in particular, have been badly affected by this new plan as apartment complexes have been labeled as ‘Bulk Generators’ by the BBMP, along with malls, shopping complexes, public offices, and convention halls.
So what does this mean for apartment owners?
It means that any apartment with more than 10 housing units is solely responsible for handling its own solid waste, and should have composting units to process the waste internally. Apartment owners now have to worry about installing and maintaining waste processing units, mainly due to an inconsiderate plan that has been cooked up overnight!
Why Apartments Can’t Operate Composting Units
The new policy being rolled out by the BBMP is unfair to apartments mainly because apartments now need to be equipped with composting units out of the blue.
This is hard, primarily due to the following factors. 1. Space Constraints
Most apartments in Bangalore have a predefined structure, with the entire area neatly sectioned according to the building plan. The need to accommodate a composting unit has thrown up a key problem in such apartments, which is the lack of space.
Residents in apartments from across the city are also irked as apartment associations weren’t consulted while this plan was being formulated, leading to widespread confusion on how these measures can be implemented.
2. Operational Constraints
Composting units, even if installed, need to be verified and checked to ensure that they adhere to the prevailing standards. Sewage treatment and composting units in Bangalore need to be verified by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the contractors need to be duly approved – but this is a factor that has not been distinctly outlined in the new SWM plan.
The plan doesn’t get into the finer details of which authority residents should consult while installing an STP or composting unit, or whether it is ecologically safe to have such units in a residential area. Apartments with garbage processing plants will generate huge quantities of compost too, and no plan for managing this widespread generation of compost has been specified.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has also not specified any waste management process for residents to follow, with clearly outlined steps like segregation, disposal, or recycling.
3. Financial Constraints
STPs and composting units need to be rigorously maintained, so the added cost of installing and maintaining these units will be passed on to the residents. Residents state that apartments need to spend INR 150000-200000 in order to run these composting units, and this will prove to be particularly expensive for smaller apartments that have fewer houses.
Residents who can’t install a composting unit need to pay the BBMP a standard fee to dispose their solid and wet waste, which is an additional expense that all residents should be willing to bear. Apartment owners view these rules as particularly unfair as independent houses and smaller apartments face none of these costs when it comes to waste management.
The BBMP is solely responsible for waste disposal in Bangalore
This is clearly defined under the rules set by the Ministries Of Urban Development and Environment and Forestry, which state that the BBMP should collect domestic, institutional and trade waste from the source, from every door or through a community bin. The corporation is also authorized to employ NGOs and private companies for help.
By making apartment residents accountable for waste processing, the municipal corporation is not fulfilling its fundamental duty of maintaining the civic assets of greater Bangalore.
In an analysis that deconstructs the SWM problem, Mr. Narayan Aras, one of the central figures representing the plight of apartment owners, states that all that residents need to do (as per the law) is initially segregate their dry and wet waste and keep them ready for the BBMP to collect. It’s not yet clear if the corporation has the authority to pass on its duty to the residents.
Certain residents are also worried that the introduction of private contractors into the picture will lead to the rise of garbage mafias that dictate varying charges for the collection and disposal or garbage. Apartment residents are likely to be at the mercy of these contractors, as failing to comply with the government’s rules can lead to basic amenities like electricity and water supply being cut off.
Mr. Aras has also stated that the term ‘Bulk Waste Generators’ that the BBMP has attributed to apartments is not an official one, as it does not feature in the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act (1976) or the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules (2000). This has apartment owners to question the conception and implementation of this new SWM plan.
Bangalore needs carefully planned waste management measures that are sustainable and devised with the city’s future in mind. With migrants pouring in and the population steadily increasing, only efficient long term plans can help in making the city a metropolitan haven.
Going by the current draft of the BBMP proposal, the road ahead seems to be a very long one.
This article is based on the inputs provided by Mr. Nagesh Aras of Sobha Aquamarine, Sarjapura Outer Ring Road, Bangalore who has been leading the STP related regulations for Apartments with KSPCB and now on the SWM rules. This article is to benefit the readers of our blog to get different perspective of problems that Apartment Complexes grapple with every day. The article does not necessarily indicate views of ApnaComplex.
This article is based on interview with Mr. Nagesh Aras of Sobha Aquamarine, Sarjapura Outer Ring Road, Bangalore who has been leading the STP related regulations for Apartments with KSPCB and now on the SWM rules.
When the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) framed a draft of its new Solid Waste Management (SWM) plan in late 2012, there was a collective sigh of relief as the policy was seen as the much awaited first step towards a cleaner Bangalore.
Improper waste disposal has been one of Bangalore’s burning issues
But a deeper look into the tenets of this plan throws up critical questions on the role of apartment complexes in this SWM drive. The new recommendations hold apartments responsible for processing their own solid waste – a move that has evoked strong reactions across the city’s apartment associations.
So where exactly do apartment complexes fit into the current scheme of things? More importantly, how do the new regulations affect apartment owners?
The Events That Led To The New SWM Plan
Improper waste management is a problem that has plagued Bangalore for over two decades, and the issue hit the spotlight again when the BBMP’s act of dumping solid and wet waste (without proper segregation) in the village of Mandur started causing ecological problems in the locality, along with rising health hazards.
The BBMP ceased dumping waste in Mandur amidst growing protests
Close to 500 trucks loaded with 3000 tons of garbage from the city were regularly sent to the Mandur landfill on a daily basis, till rising tensions prompted the Bangalore High Court to intervene and stop the BBMP from using its landfills entirely.
The growing mountains of waste in the landfill and the ensuing diseases prompted the villagers from Mandur to protest against the BBMP in the year 2012, bringing the entire cycle of waste segregation and disposal to a halt, and leading to the accumulation of excess waste along the city’s roads.
The revised waste management plan is part of the BBMP expert committee’s efforts to outline a clear cycle of waste segregation and disposal within the city, with an eye on the growing population and the mounting need for better waste management facilities.
How The SWM Plan Affects Apartments In Bangalore
Although the new SWM plan mainly outlines the need for proper waste segregation at all levels of the disposal cycle, certain key statements in the plan dictate that residential complexes and apartments are solely responsible for processing their own waste.
Under the new guidelines, apartments are internally responsible for processing wet waste
Under the SWM plan, which was announced in September 2012, residential apartments that have more than 10 housing units or above have been classified as ‘Bulk Generators’ of waste, along with hotels, malls, shopping complexes, public offices, and transportation terminals.
Apartments have been classified as ‘Bulk Generators’ by the BBMP
The revised guidelines specify that:
Apartments should internally segregate their dry and wet waste
Composting units should be installed in every apartment to process the wet wasted generated
Apartments that fail to install their own composting units should hand over their wet waste to the BBMP
The BBMP will levee a standard fee for collecting the waste from such apartments
The BBMP regulations clearly state how different types of wastes should be handled by the apartment management.
Dry Waste: This includes waste materials like plastic, paper, metal objects, wood, rags, rubber, and thermocol. Dry waste should be handed over to the nearest collection center.
Wet Waste: Wet waste includes uncooked and cooked food items, and compostable material. This should be processed through composting units or given to the BBMP for a fee.
Sanitary Waste: Sanitary napkins, any material contaminated with blood, and disposable diapers fall under this category. These need to be disposed at biomedical waste collection centers.
Inerts And Rejects: Road sweepings, silt, dust, ashes, broken glass, and construction and demolition wastes are part of this category. Inerts will be collected from apartments on a weekly basis, again for a standard fee.
More than a third of Bangalore’s residents live in apartments; and this unexpected move from the BBMP expert committee has spurred debates on how effective these efforts are. In fact, Mr. Narayan Aras, who is leading the efforts to educate apartment residents about the new SWM plan, has compiled an analysis on why the BBMP’s recent measures are impossible to implement.
The new policy has come under criticism mainly because these long-term regulations have been passed overnight without providing residential complexes the space to learn about and install such composting units within the complex. To add to this, there are no fully functional KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) approved disposal centers across the city, complicating the entire waste disposal process.
Many planned apartment complexes don’t often have the space to accommodate these units, and the BBMP’s lack of operational support in terms of setting up and approving these units is an important factor as well. Installing and maintaining a composting unit is an additional expense that apartment owners will have to bear, and these are just some of the many reasons why apartment residents can’t process their own waste.
In an ominous move, the rules also specify that housing units that don’t adhere to these new regulations will have their electricity and water supply cut off, with a looming threat of nonconforming residents being forcibly vacated or imprisoned too. It remains to be seen if the BBMP will listen to protesting homeowners who are challenging the components of its ill-advised draft.
Image link from http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/01361/13BG_MANDUR__1361985f.jpg
This article is based on interview with Mr. Nagesh Aras of Sobha Aquamarine, Sarjapura Outer Ring Road, Bangalore who has been leading the STP related regulations for Apartments with KSPCB and now on the SWM rules.
ApnaComplex with support from Bannerghatta Neighborhood Association, conducted Waste Management Awareness and Best Practices Sharing Sessions on Saturday, 24th November, 2012.
After a warm welcome from Mr. Sanjeev Bansal of Vithola Apartments, the event kick-started off with a small video on the WHY of Waste Management – the current status of Bangalore’s garbage dumps, BBMP’s diktats and securing the future for our children.
The Waste Management expert speaker sessions started with Waste Management for Dummies by Mr. Vijay Krishnan of RagPicker who gave a simplified, practical, down-to-earth explanation of WHATs of waste management. What were the different categories of waste, What are the composting options? What garbage goes into what bucket/bin/bag for disposal? What’s done with the garbage after it leaves our homes?
Wilma Rodrigues, the guru of Waste Management from way back in 2001, from Saahas group next presented some practical HOWs of Waste Management. She explained about various tailored and customized options for apartments and gated communities in terms of services offered by Saahas. She explained how we can contribute back to not just environment by significantly reducing the output generated to landfills, but also giving back to the society in terms of employment for people manning the composting and segregation units right in the apartment/complex premises. The women and men employed with Saahas are given training, proper protection equipment and ergonomic tools and techniques to go about their mundane work. The services while being a big boon for societies who are always pressed for time and resources – is also very economical with charges only for covering the basic expenses.
Up next was Ms Poonam of Daily Dump, another veteran in this area. Daily Dump, popular for providing eye-catching, colourful and beautiful composting units – be it for individual homes, society or office, was ubiquitously mentioned by almost everyone in the following Best Practices sessions. She gave some sharp, hard-hitting and thought provoking perspectives straight from the field – how to think of the bigger picture beyond just my home, my apartment, my backyard. For example how there was no CFL recycling plant in Bangalore and it needs to be transported several miles outside the city just for that.
The Best Practices sessions generated the maximum question/answers from the audience with practical issues & tips shared by passionate committee members – Savitha from Sobha Azalea and Althea, Babita Saxena and Radhika from Ferns Paradise, Asia from Purva Panorama, and Anoop of Sobha Aster.
Practical questions on how to change the mind set of maids, cooks and housekeeping (use incentives scheme, talk to them in the language they understand, use visuals instead of charts), how to practically collect wet garbage ( keep it newspaper lined buckets/bins outside your door and have the housekeeping staff empty it into larger trolley-bins), contacts of alternate conscientious waste collectors who actually don’t mix up after you have taken all the pains to segregate, how to mobilize the residents from indifference to active participants (go door to door, involve children, have fests, make garbage interesting!). This was the section that generated the maximum laughter and interaction too! What struck the audience was the professional presentation by these green champions. “Phased-implementation”, “Early Adopters”, “100% compliance”, “Soft Launch”, “Post Pilot” were some of the terms used by the presenters – which showed the corporate style commitment and execution towards making Bangalore a better place to live.
The event ended with an inspiring note from Ms. Lavanya of Youth For Seva. The finale session was most appropriate as she urged people to not just recycle – but also reduce. Take a moment before buying – do you really need it, can you get by with something more simpler option that we actually knew and used 10 years ago (do we really need that e-waste generating sensor activated liquid soap dropper?!, Do we really need black plastic refuse bags?). Once you buy it – take another moment before throwing it away – has it been used to fullest extent? Can you not repair instead of replace? Don’t fall for the consumerist marketing is the message she asked people to think about. YFS also has other areas of service such as health, education where volunteers can register and give back to society at large.
“The sessions were very very useful. I have had lot of takeaways. Although we were practicing Waste Management to some extent in our apartment, I have got lots of new ideas now and I am going to spread the word to not just my apartment but my entire neighbourhood” – words from the happy and satisfied member from the audience – Ms. Meeakshi of Ittina Abby sums it all.
The sessions were attended by more than 60 participants from various housing societies. All presentations are available on ApnaComplex Slideshare.
Update: Some of hyperlinks given above were broken earlier. The broken links have been corrected to point to correct urls
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Event will include presentations by Daily Dump, Ragpicker, Saahas, Youth for Seva – organizations dealing in Waste Management and Best Practices from Apartment Complexes who have successfully implemented Waste Management in their respective societies.
Introductions & Welcome
Need of Waste Management & the options available – Video Presentation
Waste Management for Dummies by RagPicker – Mr. Vijay Krishnan
Saahas Presentation – Ms. Wilma R
Daily Dump Presentation – Ms. Poonam Kasturi
Best Practice Sharing from BANA
Best Practice Sharing from Sobha Azalea & Althea
Best Practice Sharing from Ferns Paradise
Youth for Seva Presentation on their services
Vote of Thanks
Who can attend:
Any one in and around Bangalore who is part of a gated community (Managing Committee Members, Green Committee Members, Facility Managers, Residents of Apartment Complexes, Villa Layouts)
Does it cost?
The event is free for ApnaComplex paid customers and for BANA members.
For others, Rs. 100/- shall be collected at the venue on the event day to cover the incidentals.
ApnaComplex is delighted to feature an interview from Saahas – the organization that every waste sensitive communities would know. Below is a detailed interview from Ms. Babita Saxena, Program Head at Saahas who explains more about Saahas and gives advice on how Gated Communities can benefit from services offered by Saahas.
Saahas has been doing tremendous work in Waste Management in Bangalore for many years. Can you please explain the background and about the mission of Saahas?
Saahas is registered as a society in 2001 has been into solid waste management for the past 12 years and has been committed towards the goal of Zero Waste Bangalore. Based in Bangalore, we work with government institutions, companies, households and schools to bring attention to best practices in the management of solid waste and support implementation of these systems. We work with the informal sector to strengthen the capacities of workers and provide better livelihood opportunities.
Though we are based in Bangalore, we have recently begun operations in Chennai and Goa as well. In the medium to long term, we would look to expand to second or third tier cities around Bangalore. Our organization has studied the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling Rules) 2000 and we believe that it provides excellent guidelines for improving the existing situation of solid waste management in the city.
Our Vision: To have waste managed in a manner which will recover all the embedded resources, while enhancing livelihood options and safeguarding our environment.
Our Mission: Our mission is to develop and facilitate implementation of best practices in waste management so that generators take responsibility for their waste. This in turn will ensure minimal impact to the environment even while livelihood options are enhanced.
What are the different services offered by Saahas?
Saahas provides different types of services that can be broadly categorized as follows:
Complete management of wet and dry waste. (Wet waste management through composting and dry waste sorted and sent to respective recyclers / scrap dealers) at the client’s premises. (option of only wet or only dry waste management is also provided)
Dry waste collection from the client premises on a weekly basis, so that they are sorted and sent to respective recyclers / scrap dealers). This option is feasible for small sized apartments.
Hand Holding clients with management of wet waste for a period of 1 or two months. This is especially useful for clients where wet waste generation is not huge and does not require a full time personnel to manage the wet waste. In such places, house keeping staff can be trained to handle this activity along with their regular activity.
Can Apartment Complexes approach Saahas for consultancy on SWM and for audit of their SWM practices?
Yes, apartment complexes can approach Saahas for consultancy on SWM and for audit of their SWM practices. We can help them get started.
Can Apartment Complexes totally outsource their waste management to Saahas?
Wet Waste, Dry / Recyclable Waste, Garden Waste as well as e-Waste can be handled by Saahas. The hazardous and sanitary waste will continue to be picked up by BBMP.
Does Saahas cater to Private Layouts as well?
Yes, as long as the layout has mechanism established to collect waste (door to door) and bring it to a central location which can then be handled by Saahas.
Are there any apartment complexes using services of Saahas?
Yes. We are servicing a number of apartments in Bangalore. Some of our existing large clients are Mantri Tranquil, Prestige Shantiniketan, Mantri Flora, Brigade Classic etc.
Want to get featured here? If you or people you know or your organization makes a difference to Gated Communities, please contact us with your story! We will feature it.
With the increased awareness of Solid Waste Management in Bangalore communities, is there any message you want to say to residents of gated communities in regards to SWM practices?
Instead of getting demotivated that nothing is happening w.r.t the new rules, the communities should take up responsibility to manage their own waste, so as to reduce the burden on the landfills. Any such major changes are bound to have teething problems, and it is only prudent that each community comes forward and take care of their waste atleast and contribute towards a better city and better environment. With communities / apartments it is easier.
Communities must also take responsibility to ensure that the low value waste like packing materials from kitchen, wrappers, tetrapak etc., are truly put to recycling by the vendor who picks up the recyclable waste.
This is a guest post from Ms. Savita Hiremath, Green Committee Member of Sobha Azalea & Althea, an apartment complex in Yelahanka, Bangalore. Sobha Azalea & Althea owners association have been using ApnaComplex for last 1.5+ years to manage thier society’s operations and finances.
At Sobha Althea & Azalea, we are a motley group of women coming from various backgrounds. We were thinking of putting a waste management system in place even before the BBMP legislation came into force. But for some reasons, it didn’t take off.
The legislation was just the kind of nudge we needed to get going and start thinking about HOWs and WHYs.
A string of meetings helped us frame certain guidelines for our own residential community while keeping in mind the larger picture: A waste-free zone.
1. Get the Green Committee members together: This is the first step. If the GC members are not like-minded and united, then the community won’t give a hoot to your rules. In many cases, committees are either inactive or suffer from absenteeism. A couple of get-togethers can kick off unprecedented bonhomie and help focus on work. If each one gets complimented for the sincere work they do, team work becomes a pleasure and truly rewarding.
2. GC members must remain up-to-date with the developments. Be always a step ahead of others to reinforce your authority on the subject you are trying to handle. Power without authority on the subject cuts no ice.
3. Put necessary infrastructure in place. Labeled bins for storage and others for collection. Make sure housekeepers have safety equipment like gloves and masks. Tie up with agents for dry waste recycling. If you are going for community composting of wet waste, make sure the entire workforce is trained along with one or two GC members.
4. Prepare a Dos & Don’ts file on waste segregation before informing the community that the exercise will begin on a certain date. Let this be as comprehensive as it gets. Send the printed note to all the flats and secure their signatures to make sure that nobody feigns ignorance later. Put up notices on ApnaComplex, community’s Facebook page and spread the message through all other active email groups.
5. Train the Housekeepers first and keep the Facility Manager in the loop (training methodology given below).
Sobha Althea and Azalea Residents working towards the goal of being a Waste Free Zone
6. Notices & reminders: Put up notices wherever possible. Create an atmosphere in community areas with colourful posters. Use ApnaComplex, Facebook, personal ids for spreading info on upcoming training sessions/meeting and also Dos & Don’ts. Create a sense of urgency so that people are pressured to attend the meetings. Do not reveal when the next session will be held. Warn of serious action if people fail to comply.
7. Invite residents to take part in the cause. Call these meetings “interactive sessions”, not “trainings”, as some residents may already know a lot about segregation and their knowledge/intelligence should not be underestimated. If the turnout isn’t good, persist and call for another session.
8. Build a relationship with every one Given the demographic makeup of Bangalore’s population, it’s a given that people come here from various places/speak various languages. In our complex, a good chunk of people flit in and out of India often and there’s a chance that they may miss out on the local socio-political developments. There are certain subtle contextual nuances that non-Kannadigas may not get. We all know how the mainstream English newspapers and TV channels focus more on news that caters to English-speaking people, quotes are gathered from those who can speak English. However, when it comes to dealing with issues like waste segregation which needs co-ordination with your maids and cooks (most of them speak local languages) day in and day out, developing a CONNECTION with them is a step taken in the right direction.
9. But first, build a backgrounder. In the meetings, brief the people on how it all began and where we are headed. Tell them about how hellish life got for people in Mylappanahalli, Mavallipura and Mandur landfills. Most people may not know how BBMP dealt with tonnes of garbage all this while. Be prepared for such ‘revelations’. Once the backgrounder is laid bare, get down to specifics.
10. Be firm, yet flexible. To make anything work, there WILL BE and HAVE TO BE certain negotiables and non-negotiables.
In our case, NON-NEGOTIABLES included the following:
a. Everyone has to follow the BBMP law. No exceptions. No giving room to cynicism that no such law has ever worked and is bound to fail this time, too. Just say that we will go ahead even if the entire Bangalore fails to execute. Certain decisions (that affect the entire community) cannot be left to individual choices.
b. No using plastic bags for lining the kitchen and dry waste bins. No question of giving leeway to anyone just because they are working men/women. Tell the residents not to tie the bags but empty their bins directly into the large mobile bins pushed by the housekeepers. This way, it’s easy to figure out if there’s any mixed waste and pinpoint the errors right on the spot. Many of our residents initially found this practice pretty cumbersome and “stinky”. We stuck to our guns and said that newspaper sheets lining will not leave solid leftovers/residue sticking to the bin and will be easy to wash. So far, so good!
c. No saying ‘no’ to rinsing milk packets/food containers. Tell them that the dry waste agent comes only once in a fortnight and storing badly segregated waste in the basement means stench and of course, inviting rodents, houseflies, mosquitoes, etc.
d. They must send ALL their maids/cooks/drivers for training. This became the highlight of our discussions because we had to explain how language barriers between the owners and maids/cooks can be exploited by either of them to commit errors. At the same time, tell the residents that it makes their job easier because the housemaids/cooks will sense how serious everyone is.
NEGOTIABLES: a. It’s left to the residents if they want to line the kitchen bin with newspapers sheets or not. You can recommend a certain type of bin, but if they already have inbuilt modular bins, let them decide how they want to store and dispose of wet waste.
b. Place bins near the lift entrance so that working men/women can dump the wet waste while they leave for work early in the morning. But do make sure that they don’t use plastic bags for this purpose. Luckily, our residents have found newspaper sheet lining pretty effective!
c. If some residents want to train their own in-house maids/cooks, leave it to their discretion. But, if they make mistakes, make sure that you emphasize the need for training session and tell them that they must attend the next session.
11. Launch door-to-door campaigns immediately. This will reinforce the seriousness of the GC’s commitment to going green. Secondly, it gives a chance to know your neighbours better. And most importantly, their reaction to the whole thing will, in most cases, lets you figure out who has taken it seriously and who is likely to fall out of line.
12. Involve Everyone Invite more volunteers and appoint block co-ordinators. If necessary, floor co-ordinators, too.
13. Incentivising Housekeeping Staff
We have realized that selling dry waste fetches a decent amount of money. A part of it can be used to incentivise the housekeepers who deal with stink and dirt every day. Tell them it will all get mutually beneficial if the collective aim is achieved.
14. Punitive Measures
Enforce punitive measures, if necessary. However, remember that the ultimate aim is NOT to punish people, but to achieve 100% compliance. For that, be ready for any number of trainings/monthly sessions as you move on.
Attendance is mandatory. Those who attend get their identity cards signed by GC members on the spot. If residents remain cold to this rule, tell them this will help them in more than one way:
a. Once they attend the training, domestic helps cannot say they can’t do segregation.
b. They cannot exploit the language barrier (if any) to go lax.
c. If there is no language barrier, the seriousness with which the GC members proceed, fellow workers’ enthusiasm, or at least, willingness to participate in the cause, will put pressure on the rest.
Explain the background. If you just say “put wet waste here and dry waste there”, they don’t see the value behind the exercise. You have to explain WHY it has to be done and WHAT will happen if we don’t follow the rules.
It’s natural for domestic helps and cooks to think that we are stretching this segregation thing a bit too far and adding more burden to their already difficult lives. But if you tell them clearly that they are some other people—pourakarmikas—whose lives are even more difficult, they begin to CONNECT! This has been the case with our electricians, plumbers, security guards, drivers, gardeners, etc.
Explain how we think everything that rots is “stinky”. We have to lay bare our own stupidity in front them and laugh at it and invite them to learn from our mistakes. They will begin to think educated people also make mistakes and are also learning just as they are.
To think that they don’t get the larger picture of environmental health is a bit too condescending. If you get them to talk, you will know life has taught them a good deal. We have found that, if explained in simpler terms, they are able to get scientific details, too.
If they remain impassive/indifferent to rules on rinsing milk/food packets, collecting wet waste directly in a bin without lining, remind them that this is exactly what they are doing in their houses, too.
Make sure that the entire workforce employed by an individual household attends the training. Otherwise, blame game starts in no time. We have experienced this.
In a few cases, we saw some thinking residents sitting along with their maids in the training sessions. This in itself made the workforce realize how serious we all were and how we wanted the rest to be involved to make it a success. Nothing can work better than this! If we are serious, we don’t see why our maids can’t get serious.
Ultimately, nothing much can be achieved if the helps/cooks do not co-operate. Let the residents decide how they want to reward them when they do a good job. Sometimes, just a compliment will go long way in achieving compliance.
Training for the rest of the Workforce
You may wonder why train electricians, plumbers, security guards, drivers, gardeners, etc. But we can’t do without their co-operation. They often dispose of waste after cleaning cars into wrong bins. Electricians dump e-waste just anywhere and so do plumbers. It’s essential that they know the basics of segregation as some of them eat lunch in the parking lots, smoke and drink tea, and throw the leftovers, beedis/cigarette butts and plastic tea cups just anywhere in the car parking areas. Paan/gutka stains and spitting into sand buckets are also issues that need immediate action. In short, anybody who enters the complex should know the rules in place.
Follow the same method of explaining the backgrounder before talking about types of waste. Help them connect with your message. Be warm and receptive. Be ready to entertain their views and complaints. Talk beyond segregation and show them that you care for their welfare in general. Try to SINCERELY look into complaints if they have any. Once trust is established, it’s becomes relatively easier to enforce rules.
As a closing remark – Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’d rather lose some battles on the way when you know you are out to win the war. Patience is of paramount importance!
About the Author
Savita is a Bangalore-based a journalist since 1995 and consults several NGOs and a human rights group to research and document socio-political issues. She has earlier worked with Deccan Herald, The Times of India, and The New Indian Express, and headed a journalism institute for an year. She loves to write on women’s issues, HIV/AIDS, caste and religion, rural poverty, environmental issues, and tennis. You can read more about her on her blog at www.savitahiremath.com. Please leave a comment below if you want to get in touch with her.
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