Well begun is half done
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Urbaser Sumeet has taken the city’s 7 Zones by storm. With battery operated vehicles (BOV) buzzing since early morning and cleaner bins, it has presented the dwindling hopes of many citizens, with a ray of light, for a cleaner city.
Adyar Times spoke with Hari Balaji, Head - Information, Education, and Communication (IEC), to know more about the plans and hopes for the city.
It is nearly three weeks now that Urbaser Sumeet has taken over for waste management. What are the expectations?
Urbaser Sumeet is a joint venture (JV) firm between Urbaser - a Spanish global environment management firm, and Sumeet - a facilities management firm based out of Pune. While we started operations in Zones 13 from Oct.1, we will be involved in the other 6 zones by the year-end.
Our primary aim is to collect waste from the doorstep of both residential and commercial establishments. Establishments need not employ helpers to dispose of waste; neither do they need to be present at the time of collection. All they need to do is, segregate the waste into the three categories: green bin with wet waste; blue bin with dry waste, and the red bin with domestic hazardous waste, and place the bins outside their house door or at a designated area in the apartment and we shall collect from there.
Also, apartments with more than 50 houses are currently encouraged to compost and subsequently, only dry waste will be collected from there.
Can you explain to us the journey of the waste from our house?
The segregated waste is collected by the BOVs, which is then put in the color-coded roadside bins. Since the battery-operated vehicles cannot travel long distances, i.e till the yard, the road-side bins serve as a spot to collect all the waste from a stretch. In the night, when the traffic has come to a rest, the compactors collect the waste from the road-side bins and bring it to the yard. The Corporation then takes care of it.
How are the residents being informed about segregation?
During the collection, the conservancy workers inform the residents about how to segregate. Apart from that, aggressive door-to-door and area wise campaigns on segregation are being conducted. I myself go on rounds, meet people to understand their issues, and ideate on how it can be resolved. I am sure when people understand the impact of segregation, on the environment, they will jump on the bandwagon.
During our campaigns, we are also involving trendsetters who share their success stories and best practices, and offer help recreating success in other communities. More than often, people are inspired to start an initiative when they see others also do it. We are also planning regular awareness sessions for the maids and watchmen of each area.
Adyar Times is often flooded with pictures of overflowing, unkempt, and misplaced bins. How will these be tackled?
With the door-to-door collection, this issue of overflowing bins will be eliminated. We would be collecting waste from each and every house irrespective of whether it is an urban-poor locality or otherwise.
We have also informed commercial establishments, not to hurry in disposing of their waste at night and the same will be collected during the afternoon hours.
Residents around a bin play a good role in identifying the shops who dump bulk waste. Sometimes we too can identify the shops by the type of waste. We then talk to them about our collection system.
Currently, we are also in the process of clearing waste from around the road corners and such places, so the roads are also cleaner. Regarding unkempt bins, all the bins would be washed every 15 days and maintained properly. They would also be kept at the proper places. The upkeep of the bins may also be part of the Urbaser Sumeet’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are tracked by the Corporation.
What are the other types of waste that would be collected?
We have a separate vehicle to collect animal carcass.
Residents can also call us to dispose of bulk waste, like furniture, etc.
Horticulture waste i.e., garden trimmings, tree branches, etc. would also be collected separately on being informed.
During festival times, like the upcoming Navarathi or Diwali, we know that certain areas would be generating more waste than the other. We would be employing more workforce and efforts to tackle the same.
Construction debris will NOT be picked by us and the Corporation needs to be approached for the same.
A toll-free number is being set for people to reach us and the details about it shall be conveyed soon.
Is there a possibility of Chennai becoming a bin-less city?
Currently, the street-side bins are needed as BOVs neither have the capability to carry bulk load nor can travel the distance to the yard. One might also find bins at new places. This is because the bins have to be placed at locations accessible by the compactors.
Your views about Zone 13?
We had been told that Zone 13 residents were very conscious and are awestruck at their eagerness in getting involved in initiatives with a very high commitment level. The first thing I was asked, when I met different RWA representatives was, “Are you open to suggestions from us because we will be giving you many?” Seeing their vision in sync with Urbaser Sumeet, I, of course, agreed. Their work has been phenomenal. There are many best practices that I have learned from them.
During one of the rounds, I see them asking the collectors, “Yenna Arumugam, saptiya?” (Arumugam, have you had food?) They knew the collectors by name and treated them with dignity. On our first day, RWA members traveled with the BOV, explaining to the collector about each house. Many RWAs have come up with unique ideas on waste management, for example, installing a CCTV camera near a street bin to track people from other localities, throwing in their street bins. Using the vehicle registration number, the person was traced and spoken to.
People here are not only committed to seeing their locality and Zone as a model but also the city. We thus cannot miss this golden opportunity to shine. If people can segregate waste at home and give the same to the door-to-door collector, we would definitely be on the path to a Thuimai Chennai.
To become a Neighbourhood Cleanliness Ambassador, call 88822 29004.