Towards A Cleaner Environment

Vatavaran Trust, India

Shreya Mehta on July 16, 2018 in Environment

These days most articles in magazines joke about India drowning in garbage. Unfortunately, with the pace which with waste is generated in India today, a similar situation may perhaps be at hand.

The collective formed by joining all the urban areas in India have been declared as the world’s third largest garbage generator. By 2050, the amount of waste generated by them is expected to rise to 436 million tons. With the fast-growing population and unending needs, unmanaged garbage has thus become a menace for all.

It is even speculated by many that we might need a little more than the Swachh Barat Abhiyan to handle and control the situation. The organisation that has actively taken part in and successfully implemented many custom-made waste management techniques is the Vatavaran Trust.

Vatavaran started working under the guidance of Dr Iqbal Malik in 1990 with the focus on Delhi. Keeping the age old ‘kabaadi’ tradition in mind, the NGO decided to start a cleaning brigade.

Today many of their cleaning brigades work in association with the Residential Welfare Associations, to maintain hygiene and sanitation levels in Delhi. They not only engage in the task of collecting of garbage and waste but also engage in fixing all the waste collected into some constructive use or value.

The process is very simple. Once any Residential Association contacts them for help, the first and foremost action that is requested by Vatavaran is to take approval from all residents so that they cooperate with the Vatavaran team. Uniform for all volunteers and a three-wheeler is also anticipated from the Residential Association’s end.

All the volunteers come to the area from almost 7am and engage in the task of collecting garbage from each house. Once it is collected, they then segregate the garbage into biodegradable and non-biodegradable bundles. The non-biodegradable wastes are further separated into different kinds of bundles like glass, paper and plastic.

All the biodegradable waste is composted through anaerobic processes within the area assigned by the Residential Association. This method of composting is preferred as it requires no initial investment and doesn’t create any open dump. All the non-biodegradable waste is sold industries who use it as raw material and all the money is given to the Residential Association to use, especially to support the cause and pay the volunteers on time.

With a total of just 50-100 rupees from each house, the volunteers work wonders as a team. The manure that is prepared is also sold to the market at rupees 5-10 per kilo. The waste management process is moulded according to the needs of each of the residential areas and the land available for compost.

The organisation has been generating a lot of employment in the process as well. Local ragpickers and unemployed youth are welcomed to the team, to be volunteers with Vatavaran. Various localities, markets, colleges, institutes and residential areas have benefited from Vatavaran’s services. JNU and DU (South Campus) have been made zero garbage areas in association with Vatavaran and its facilities.

Various low, high and middle-income residential areas in Mahipalpur, Pitampura, Sheikh Sarai, Vasant Kunj and Siri Fort have been benefitted from Vatavaran’s services and continue to implement the waste management techniques introduced to them by the organisation.

Along with providing appropriate waste management techniques, the organisation also conducts various studies to keep a look of for newly emerging waste dumps and waste markets.

As a result of the organisations effort’s, the Supreme Court in 1996 asked the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi to not allow any medical waste to be accumulated behind the hospital and move all the medical waste dump that was being accumulated. Today the areas are clean and waste-free.

The organisation has till date also trained various other NGOs in Delhi like Navjyoti, Rotary Eco Foundation, Accord in various waste monitoring and management techniques. Vatavaran has been twice awarded with the prestigious “Best Practices Award” by United Nations Cell on Human Settlements in 2000 and 2006.

They also participate and organise various campaigns that are associated with the environment, sanitation and waste management. They have also started the Canine Companion Campaign to try and bring a harmony between the stray dogs and residents. Attempts are made to help residents co-exist with them and if interested, adopt them.

In order to expand the influence, Vatavaran has partnered with other organisations like ‘Ashi’ and ‘Arpan’ that share similar interests and aspirations.  Together they are like a “rhizome growing horizontally with lateral shoots…”, with each being the other’s shoots.

In association with the People’s Theatre Group they also conduct nukkad-nataks on topics like ‘Live and Let Live’ that depicts and envisions a peaceful society that is compassionate towards all forms of nature.

Their campaigns have led to the formation of the DelhiRidge, a natural forest declared as a reserve forest. Here the use of plastic carry bags is banned, slaughter houses in and around the area have been forced to shifted out, areas that are part of zoos have been improved.

Iqbal, the founder of Vatavaran says, “To put it simply, we want to live in an ideal world, where we give back what we consume from nature, where we don’t interfere in the natural workings of the environment, where we respect our ‘Vatavaran’ and live in it, as a part of it, not trying to conquer and alter it all the time!”

To read more about the inspirational work they are doing, visit Vatavaran Trust today!

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