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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
“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.
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.
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.
“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.”