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Bin it - not!
Overflowing garbage has made Kolkata a hell-hole, but can we cut back on the garbage we generate? GO!

KMC trashes smarter
Kolkata's first garbage compactors may help clean up the city. GO!

Today's waste, tomorrow’s shortage
Wanton wastefulness is leading to depleted or vanished resources. GO!

Up in (no) smoke!
Waste disposal is the bane of many a new-age city, and bustling metros such as Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are no exception. One proposed solution has been incineration of the waste to make it more compact and manageable. Burning of waste can reduce the volume by up to 90 per cent. Energy can also be generated as a useful by-product of the process. But plans to set up such waste-to-energy units in India have met with staunch resistance from environmentalists. Older plants that were set up in Delhi, Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Lucknow were shut down for reasons ranging from low calorific value of waste to lack of financial viability.

Experts from Singapore, however, assure that modern technology can mitigate the pollution caused by incineration of waste. Singapore has four waste-to-energy plants in operation around the clock, handling some 7,600 tonnes of garbage thrown away by its 5-million-strong population every day. The ash left after the burning process is transported by boat to Semakau Island, a man-made landfill site in the middle of the ocean. During a site visit to the largest of these plants, dubbed the Tuas South Incineration Plant, General Manager Chong Kuek On, emphasised that carbon monoxide emissions from the plant are less than a thirtieth of the permissible limits. Particulate substances content is just one-hundredth of Singapore’s safety limits, which are in line with best practices around the world. Built in 2000 at a cost of $890 million, the plant can handle 3,000 tonnes of waste every day to generate 80 MW of electricity.

Chong highlighted the absence of smoke from the chimney stack of the utility to drive home his point about clean emissions

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Citizens clean up a Kolkata locality - permanently.
A clean story!
Divya Dhamija
MARCH 2014
Staying clean: India's fight with garbage and dirt is a result of skewed thinking: Garbage is too dirty to take personal responsibility for - even though it offends our senses, and we're responsibile for generating it. When citizens like those of Orient Row, take responsibility for their actions, the whole municipal machinery that we curse at, works, too. Kudos, Orient Row!
Wish to see your locality clean and garbage free… always? Join hands with your local residents and take ownership of your environment, like the residents of Orient Row, (just beside the Park Circus maidan,) in South Kolkata did… Because when people understand their roles and responsibilities towards a clean environment, success is bound to follow!

It has been a few months since the clean-up drive was initiated – and the area transformed is still clean! The initiative to clean up Orient Row was the brainchild of a few residents of that area who were keen to do something about the waste that had accumulated in their lane.

Kasturi Roy Choudhury, a resident of the area says, “The dump was a bane. It was right across my house. I could see how people just came and littered the place. Soon it became a den of anti-social activities - illicit liquor, drugs, etc.”

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Children are the heros of this achievement: Orient Row resident Kasturi Roy Choudhury
hugs a child with a GFI poster.
Even after the Kolkata Municipal Corporation staff visited the area twice or even thrice a day, there were people who would still throw garbage on the road. And once there is some amount of trash, it becomes a place where the others can throw their trash too and eventually it turns into a big dumping garbage spot.

“In some households, there were genuine problems. Senior citizens living on higher floors could not hear the conservancy staff. So we gave the staff whistles and asked them to shout for garbage near those houses,” she continued.

People threw waste with abject disregard for the health of those living nearby – and ironically, themselves. Improper or absent waste management causes public health and environmental hazards like air and water pollution, soil contamination, spreads odour and disease, and breeds flies, mosquitoes and rats, besides attracting street dogs.

“All night, I could hear bandicoots running about my house. I was really scared. I had two children at home,” said Kasturi, who lives on the ground floor of her ancestral house. People used adjacent the vacant plots as urinals. After deliberating this issue repeatedly, Kasturi with the help of the residents and Garbage Free India (GFI) - an organisation of like-minded citizens who have come together with the mission of freeing India of garbage - moved the initiative ahead.

The super enthusiastic children of Orient Row also teamed up for the cause and kept an eye on people who were littering and took pictures of them. Armed with evidence, Kasturi and a gang of children went about the neighbourhood on their ‘Bell Bajao campaign’.

“At first, everybody seemed to be cooperative. They all agreed, they did not want garbage on the road but denied littering themselves. When they were confronted with pictures, they didn’t know where to hide and realised they couldn’t do it any longer,” she said.

The local councilor Farzana Chowdhury supported their effort and provided the necessary help. The dump was cleared and broken pavement was mended.

Abhik Roy Choudhury, a resident contributed his bit by getting the wall painted where the dump was. “The lane now looks cleaner and a better place to live in. So now if someone tries to litter the place we simply shoo them away”, said a resident of the area, Mr. B.K Sen.

The families living in Orient Row have achieved what no other locality could — a garbage-free locality, all thanks to their effort and vigilance.