Chennai is eyeing significant strides in the coming months in solid waste management and implementation of environmental initiatives such as the plastic ban. Much of the possible success of these efforts hinges on the willingness and commitment of residents to comply with regulations and in some cases, their ability to go beyond the mandate to do their bit.
To commend community initiatives of this nature, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has instituted a Green Award for recognized Resident Welfare Associations (RWA). A spokesperson of the PCB said that the initiative seeks to encourage residents to take part in environment-friendly efforts and to reward those who have adopted best practices in energy and waste and water management.
The category of RWAs was added this year to the Green Awards, which previously honoured only educational institutions, district collectors and industries. Up to five RWAs will be conferred an award for their involvement in activities that protect the environment. The grassroots movements will receive a shield and a combined cash award of Rs 5 lakh.
The deadline for RWAs to submit a proposal detailing the work carried out by them is October 31, 2018.
The winners will be notified in January 2019 and the awards will be presented at a ceremony conducted on the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5th.
The various categories under which an application can be made for the Green Awards are
- Management of municipal solid waste (including source segregation, bio-composting, treatment and disposal)
- Management and reuse of sewage
- Development of green belt
- Management of plastic waste and use of alternatives to plastic
- Management of rain water and rain water harvesting
- Use of solar panels and energy saving practices
- Other environment-friendly initiatives
The proposal must be enclosed with adequate supporting documents and annexures and should be addressed to the Member Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.
RWAs taking the lead
Many communities in Chennai are already involved in such efforts, particularly where solid waste management is concerned. The Green Spaces initiative in Ceebros Boulevard is a leading example of residents taking charge of waste management practices in the community. Segregated waste is disposed of by residents in bins placed in common areas – green spaces – and collected at regular intervals. The practice has been in place for the past three years.
Residents of Ceebros Boulevard are now following a DIY model of waste management that involves source segregation. A resident who has been part of the efforts said, “We began three years back in a humble way by going house to house and educating residents on the need for segregation and how to do it. It was made possible with the help of the house keeping staff, the house helps who work in the apartments and the facility management team and a bunch of dedicated residents. We have a designated spot called Green Space , where the residents empty segregated waste. The recyclables are picked up by a local kabadiwala who comes by once in two days.”
Sabari Terrace, an apartment community with 56 flats in Sholinganallur has also been practising segregation at source for a number of years now.
Other notable initiatives include the recycling of grey water by an apartment complex in Saidapet. The residents of Sri Nagar colony have been practising this for close to 16 years now. Through the setting up of a separate pipeline, the discharge from washing machines, kitchen and bathroom sink are directed to a bed of plants. Over time, substantial savings on water bills can also be achieved through such concerted efforts.
The green awards could serve as a potential motivator for more people to embrace practices that benefit the environment and ease the burden of waste management in the city.