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

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With the whole of India is experiencing the wave of rapid urbanisation, sustainable development is often an overlooked aspect. Cities are expanding with wider concrete roads and taller skyscrapers, while the green cover is shrinking and the heaps of plastic waste generated are reaching unprecedented heights in the suburbs. Most of the times, we find the city municipal authorities quite nonchalant about these problems. But not in Hyderabad. Thanks to Hari Chandana Dasari, Zonal Commissioner (West) of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, recycling and upcycling have become synonymous with development being done in the city for the last two years. From recycled plastic paver tiles, plastic bottle bus-stops to bamboo office-houses, Hyderabad has become a champion in environmental awareness in India at present. The IAS officer is working in coordination with Bamboo House India and a few other eco-friendly organisations to bring these changes.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Recycled Tyre Furniture

Chairs from tyres: how it all began

As the commissioner for GHMC, Dasari has been associated with waste management for quite some time. “In Hyderabad, we generate and transport about 4,500 metric tonnes of waste per day and all of it ends up in landfills,” she informs Efforts For Good.

Two years ago, Dasari was looking for greener ways of disposal for a bunch of unused, old tyres lying GHMC office yard. That is when Bamboo House India came to her rescue. Their concept of upcycling discarded tyres into furniture caught her attention. “We opted for turning the old tyres and barrels into furniture for public places,” she shares. “After that, we explored street furniture made of recycled plastic. I must mention that we received a lot of positive support from the citizens,” she adds.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Recycled Drum Furniture

Prashant Lingam, co-founder of Bamboo House India recounts their association with Hari Chandana Dasari on a multitude of projects. “The success of the street furniture project prompted us to build a bus-shelter out of plastic pet bottles,” he informs. They also constructed an entire office-house out of bamboo and plastic bottles for GHMC.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Bus stand made out of discarded plastic pet bottles

The ground beneath your feet is all recycled plastic

According to Dasari, one of the best projects undertaken by GHMC has to be the laying of plastic paver tiles along 10 prime streets in Hyderabad, in collaboration with Bamboo House India. Pavements need remodelling almost once in every few years. The cement tiles have to be broken down, generating a pile of rubbish which can’t be used anywhere. On the contrary, plastic paver tiles are more resilient and can be reused multiple times. “We laid an entire stretch of around 4000 sq. ft. People thought it was expensive and a burden on the exchequer, but she persisted and convinced everyone about its need. Work for another 7000 sq. ft. is in progress,” recalls Prashant.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Colourful footpath tiles made from upcycled plastic waste

“It might seem that the recycled plastic paver tiles are apparently costlier. But, if we take into consideration the entire expense of plastic waste disposal – starting from transport to landfills or incineration – recycling them into paver tiles is way more economical and eco-friendly,” Dasari informs.

Caring for the underprivileged

In and around Hyderabad, one can find around 30 Give & Share centres, which builds a healthy community aside from promoting the zero-waste concept. Open to all; these Give & Share centres allow residents to donate their old clothes, shoes, books and any other household items, which can be picked up anytime by those who need it. “People from the lower-income strata have benefitted a lot from this initiative,” shares Dasari.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Donation Centre

Recycling begins at home

Hari Chandana Dasari is a lady who practises diligently what she preaches, as evident from the various recycling measures she follows in her own home. She has a recycled bathroom and a rainwater harvesting reservoir. She does not have to pay electricity bills, ask why?

Hari Chandana Dasari
Hari Chandana Dasari practises recycling in her own home

“I have installed a solar power generator at my house, which takes care of all my power needs,” informs Dasari. Her most remarkable feat at home has to be excellent waste management methods. “I have a home composter where all my wet waste goes. As for dry waste, I sell all of them and distribute the money among my domestic staff,” she narrates.

Projects in the pipeline

Prashant Lingam informs about the collaborative projects in the pipeline, which include a bus shelter and toilets from recycled plastic as well as roadside planters.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Upcycled plastic street furniture

They are also in talks with a few notable corporates for acquiring their sizeable amounts of plastic waste and incorporating those into these recycling projects. “Whenever we think of a newer innovative project, we have this much confidence that Ma’am would never say no to a good cause,” Prashant says about Dasari.

Hari Chandana Dasari
Pet bottle Christmas tree

Message for everyone

So how far have her measures succeeded in making the citizens of Hyderabad more environmentally aware? Dasari admits getting a lot of enquiries from citizens to replicate similar recycling measures in their homes as well.

Hari Chandana Dasari
GHMC office house made from bamboo and recycled plastic

“When you’re sitting on a recycled plastic bench and realising that ‘recycled’ does not mean ragged and dirty, it helps to create a lot of awareness and sensitivity,” she asserts.
For our readers, the environmental crusader of Hyderabad has a message. “It takes a small effort to start a change. Start recycling at your home; recycle plastic bottles and try to cut down on single-use plastic. Home composting is another good concept for urban residents. These small acts can go a long way in saving our planet.”

Also Read: After Victory At Versova, “Beach-Warrior” Afroz Shah To Clean Up Mithi River In Mumbai

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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