Monday, December 17, 2012

OMR Greens for clean neighbourhood

Wayside halt on our way back from trash-busting at Kelambakkam

A neighbourhood weekly - The Chennai Outlook  (see Page 8) -  carries in its inaugural edition a feature - OMR Greens - A New Beginning for a clean OMR. The title sums up our agenda.
A clean OMR is possible . if we adopt a cluster approach to effective waste disposal and pre-laid draining system for discharge of sewage water treated at source with individual residential communities. While developers build sewage treatment plant within communities, they don't care about laying neighbourhood pipeline to carry their treated sewage discharge. It is pachayat's job, they say. Panchayat, on its part, cites lack of funds to take on such project. Developer-panchayat particiapation  is the way to go.
The story is the same in respect of  waste disposal strategy. Those of us in an apartments complex  adopt  'outsource and forget' waste   disposal policy.  We don't care where or how our outsourced garbage is disposed of  by service contractors. One guess is, much of our solid waste end up by the side of  Muthukkadu lake, along the road connecting Kelambakkam with ECR.
 OMR Greens would like to see a waste-to-energy conversion plant (like the Mamallapuram one) to serve a cluster of communities. We need to bring together,area-wise, residents, property developers and the panchayats for making this possible. Trash-busting is our way for mobilising public support for long-term solutions  to issues of common concern.
  I couldn't help feeling let down by the Kelambakkam panchayat. We were hoping the garbage collection staff would turn up with their tri-cycles to carry the garbage we collected, when  OMR Green volunteers,  went trash-busting on Kelambakkam Hight Street.
A small, but determined, group (one shy of the double digit number), carrying our cleaning gear, took out an 'Awareness Walk',  from Mantri Synergy main gate to Kelambakkam panchayat chief's office. Starting our trash-bust routine at the bus stop near panchayat chief's office, we worked our way to the road crossing at the market. The trash we collected was heaped up  on the roadside, to be collected by the panchayat garbage collection staff. They didn't show up. Nor did the Panchayat president, Mr G Venkatesan, on whose request, in the first place, we went trash-busting to Kelambakkam.
Mr Venkatesan had also offered to mobilize a group of local residents to join OMR Greens in trash-busting. What we found, in fact, were knots of curious onlookers hanging out on street-side, watching us cleaning up their trash.

 Stalwin was among the few who engaged us in conversation, and on learning of our agenda, offered to become an OMR Green member. Mr Stalwin, an engineer in a local company, said he would spread our message and mobilize a  local group for taking up bigger issues - stemming lake pollution, relocating a local chemical unit - requiring many more green activists.

Our Kelambakkam  'do'  was a learning experience. For instance, we ran into a rag-picker couple who carried their kids - Kartika, 2, and Kavya, 9 months -  in the garbage tricycle as they went about their daily rounds - 'there is no one at home to look after the kids'.. And then there was Santhosh, not older than my 7-year-old grandson, who helped his elder brother Ramesh in rag-picking. Asked why he didn't go to school Santhosh said, 'I don't know how to read'. But wasn't that the purpose of schooling - 'teaching kids to read and write' ?  That was a Q that ought to be addressed to Santhosh's parents.

OMR Greens on YouTube

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