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Zero waste drive in Coimbatore
B. Nagaraj, a corporation sanitary worker in his 50s with no formal education, has become the face of change for Coimbatore - the city that is dealing with huge garbage issues – while he searches for ways to involve the community in proper disposal of municipal waste. He is amongst the 24 sanitary workers involved in Sunya - a zero waste management project of the city municipal corporation aimed at promoting source segregation of household garbage. With his dedication, Nagaraj is setting an example for others to emulate and hopes to bring about a positive change in the society.

The sanitary workers involved in the Sunya project will be paid Rs. 3 per kg of the recyclable waste collected. Nagaraj has topped the list with a huge margin. As part of this project, as much as 6385.2 kg of recyclable waste has been collected from ward no. 23 in RS Puram by all 24 sanitary workers! Moreover, the sanitary workers are looking at collecting more plastic waste and intensifying the campaign in the coming days.

Nagaraj starts his day at 6 a.m. daily whether it is collecting plastic waste on the roadside or near the garbage bins. He then goes from house to house collecting the segregated waste that the residents keep in the corporation allotted bags. According to Nagraj, most of the sanitary workers, after completing the initial collection exercise, often go for underground drainage work or other sanitation work. But, if they go around collecting garbage, then they will also be able to collect more. Since now the corporation is paying incentives, it is economically viable for them to collect recyclable waste.

He explained that he wasn’t aware about the environmental impact of plastic waste and other garbage that cannot be easily processed if dumped among regular waste. Most of the workers just collected plastic waste and handed it over to some local shops that bought it, till a couple of years ago. However, things are different now. Nagaraj has realised the importance of ensuring plastic segregation from regular municipal waste even before he was handed over a cheque of Rs. 6352.5 for collecting and handing over 2117.5 kg of plastic waste from the streets of RS Puram and also other households included in the Sunya waste management project.

Besides, in an attempt to intensify plastic waste segregation and collection, the city municipal corporation has now extended plastic waste collection to five more wards in the city apart from ward no. 23 where the Sunya project is underway and is expected to be extended to all the 100 wards.

Source: TOI

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