Finding Beauty In Garbage: Assam IRS Officer’s ‘Mockumentary’ On Garbage Problem In Dibrugarh

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Dibrugarh, a heritage town in the state of Assam is known as the Tea Capital of India. The city is surrounded by many beautiful locations, tea gardens and the mighty Brahmaputra. However, the city ranked at 257 out of 434 cities in the 2017 Swachh Survekshan survey on cleanliness, conducted by the Indian Government. In 2018, the scenario was far worse as it ranked at a dismal 357 out of 425 cities. Sarbananda Sonowal, who became the CM of Assam in May 2016 hails from Dibrugarh. The present Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has his roots in Dibrugarh.

Source: http://swachhsurvekshan2018.org

“Dibrugarh has become a big garbage bin”

Garbage disposal became a big problem in the city due to fragile civic amenities such as lack of proper garbage bins, toilets or coordinated garbage collection from homes. Besides, there was the apathy of the municipality to clean the city regularly of the garbage generated on a daily basis.

Garbage dump in Dibrugarh

When Satyakam Dutta was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax in Dibrugarh, he was surprised to see the menace of garbage pollution in the city. “The entire city of Dibrugarh is in shambles. It has become a big garbage bin, and the municipality has failed. The issue has been taken up by the media and the citizens to pressurise the municipality to clean up the city. But it is of no use. Though the population of the city has increased in the recent years, the infrastructure which was there for the last 10 -15 years has not been upgraded to tackle the waste generation,” Satyakam said to Efforts For Good.

Mockumentary ‘Finding Beauty In Garbage’

To bring more awareness about the garbage disposal issue in Dibrugarh, Satyakam decided to make a mockumentary (satirical documentary) on the garbage disposal issue in the city. He named the mockumentary ‘Finding Beauty in Garbage’. The documentary talks about how the citizens and municipality are nonchalant about the garbage disposal.

Watch the short film here.

Satyakam Dutta

When asked why he chose a satirical style of a documentary to talk about the garbage issue in the city, Satyakam said, “I am inspired by the great Assamese writer Lakshminath Bezbaroa’s literature. He wrote extensively on the Assam’s social issues in satirical ways which made the people here change their habits. Due to his writings, many people stopped using opium. I hope my satirical documentary on the Dibrugarh garbage issue brings some change in the authorities and the citizens.”

‘Finding Beauty in Garbage’ recently won the Best Documentary award in Asia South-East Short Film Festival at Cambodia. It was also selected for screening at Ooty Film Festival, Short and Sweet Film Festival at Utah, USA and Bengals International Film festival.

Also Read A Recycling Crusader At Home, This IAS Officer Is Giving Hyderabad An Eco-Friendly Makeover

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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