“Ugly Indians” for Clean Streets

In Bangalore, an anonymous group of citizens have a dare:

Show us one Indian city that can boast of one kilometre of clean street – with no open garbage dumps, no missing footpath slabs, no urine stench, no paan (betel leaf) stains on walls? Bangalore, we challenge you, is the only Indian city that now has 4km of streets clean from these four civic ills.

To date, the “Ugly Indians” have “spot-fixed” 104 sites in Bangalore, primarily in the central business district, where they have also installed 150 waste bins and  seven free-to-use WonderLoos (ecologically friendly water-less toilets).  They challenge you to beautify your city.

The full BBC news story, dated 29 November 2011, can be viewed here.


New Plastic Waste Management & Handling Rules, 2011

The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), Government of India, has issued a new notification which supersedes the Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999.

The following Press Note was released on 7 February 2011:


Press Note

February 7th, 2011: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has today notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 to replace the earlier Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999 (amended in 2003). These Rules have been brought out following detailed discussions and consultations with a wide spectrum of stakeholders including civil society, industry bodies, relevant Central Government Ministries and State Governments.

Releasing the Rules the Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh said “It is impractical and undesirable to impose a blanket ban on the use of plastic all over the country. The real challenge is to improve municipal solid waste management systems. In addition to the privatization and mechanisation of the municipal solid waste management systems we must be sensitive to the needs and concerns of the lakhs of people involved in the informal sector”

[I] Salient Features
Some of the salient features of the new Rules are:-
. Use of plastic materials in sachets for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala has been banned.
. Under the new Rules, foodstuffs will not be allowed to be packed in recycled plastics or compostable plastics.
. Recycled carry bags shall conform to specific BIS standards.
. Plastic carry bags shall either be white or only with those pigments and colourants which are in conformity with the bar prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). This shall apply expressly for pigments and colourants to be used in plastic products which come in contact with foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and drinking water.
. Plastic carry bags shall not be less than 40 microns in thickness. Under the earlier Rules, the minimum thickness was 20 microns. Several State Governments in the meanwhile, had stipulated varying minimum thickness. It is now expected that 40 microns norms will become the uniform standard to be followed across the country.
. The minimum size (of 8×12 inches) for the plastic carry bags prescribed under the earlier Rules has been dispensed with.
. Carry bags can be made from compostable plastics provided they conform to BIS standards.

One of the major provisions under the new Rules is the explicit recognition of the role of waste pickers. The new Rules require the municipal authority to constructively engage agencies or groups working in waste management including these waste pickers. This is the very first time that such a special dispensation has been made.

[II] Role of Implementing Authority
The Municipal authority shall be responsible for setting up, operationalization and coordination of the waste management system and for performing the associated functions, namely;
. To ensure safe collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste;
. To ensure that no damage is caused to the environment during this process;
. To ensure setting up of collection centres for plastic waste involving manufacturers;
. To ensure its channelization to recyclers;
. To create awareness among all stakeholders about their responsibilities;
. To ensure that open burning of plastic waste is not permitted.

[III] Additional Safeguards
. No carry bags shall be made available free of cost to consumers. The municipal authority may determine the minimum price for plastic carry bags.
. The municipal authority may also direct the manufacturers to establish plastic waste collection centres, either collectively or individually, in line with the principle of
‘Extended Producers Responsibility’.
. The new Rules have stipulated provisions for marking or labeling to indicate name, registration number of the manufacturer, thickness and also to indicate whether they
are recycled or compostable.

A link to the MOEF notification, dated 4 February 2011, can be found here.

Ban on Plastic Bags, Cups and Plates Under 50 Microns in Thickness

On 9 December 2009, the Government of Puducherry (GOP) issued a notification banning polythene or plastic bags and disposable cups and plates under 50 microns in thickness.  The partial text of the notification reads:

…no person including a shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer or trader shall use, sell or store polythene or plastic carry bags of thickness 50 microns or below, of size less than 8 x 12 inches, disposable cups and plates of thickness of 50 microns or below whatsoever, for supply of goods in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The other plastic carry bags, disposable cups and plates apart from the category mentioned above manufactured, used, sold or stored in the Union Territory of Puducherry shall contain the name of the manufacturing unit, address, thickness and size of the product printed on it.

Let us work to educate the community on this ban and to encourage people to carry cloth bags.

“Give and let live” – The Hindu Article on Joy of Giving Week in Pondicherry

Bhupi Maru with "Joy of Giving Week" posters

Bhupi Maru with "Joy of Giving Week" posters

… Joy of Giving Week in Puducherry promises to be one mass coordinated effort involving the entire town. Sample this: over 90 schools, 30 colleges, 20 stores, 10 restaurants, 45 industries, 15 clubs and organizations, and a couple of banks and hospitals have pledged their support to the campaign. A few government departments are chipping in as well.The credit for all this goes to Shuddham, an NGO working towards solid waste management in the town, and CAOS (Creative Art of Souls) Apparels, an environment conscious export company, who have taken up this cause of giving in Puducherry…

The Hindu, in its Metro Plus Pondicherry section of the 26 September 2009 issue details the incredible support by the citizens of Pondicherry for GiveIndia’s Joy of Giving Week which starts today and goes until 3 October 2009.

Please click here for the full article.

To volunteer, please contact Shuddham at: 0413 – 2214868 or email: joyofgiving.pondy@gmail.com

To drop off usable items listed in this article, or in the previous post, please visit:

C.Dakchana Moorthy Chettiar Kalyana Nilayam
59, Eswaran Dharmaraja Koil Street
Near Nallam Clinic
Pondicherry – 605 001

Hours of operation:  8:30am to 8:30pm, 27-30 September 2009.

Joy of Giving Week in Pondicherry : September 27th to October 3rd 2009

Joy of Giving Week

Joy of Giving Week

The Joy of Giving Week is a movement organized all over India by GiveIndia Foundation. It aims at bringing together people from all walks of life in giving back to the society in a way that they choose – money, time, skills, resources, or just simple acts of kindness.

There is joy in giving and joy in receiving! It is this JOY that unites us all across numerous divides – urban-rural, caste, class and gender.

In Pondicherry, Shuddham and CAOS are collaborating with Goonj to celebrate this unique nationwide initiative “Joy of Giving” to be held from September 27 until October 3, 2009.

We invite you all to experience the Joy of Giving with us!

You can support us by:

  • Joining us as a Volunteer
  • Organizing a Collection Drive at your Work and Residential Area
  • Arranging Funds for this Movement
  • Sponsoring Transportation of the collected material to Chennai
  • Donating Packing Material
  • Spreading the Word about this Movement

You can give:
•  CLOTHES: Washed and reusable Clothes, Woolens, Bedcovers, Bed Sheets, etc.
(No Undergarments please)
•  UTENSILS: Clean and washed (no Glassware please)
•  SCHOOL ITEMS: Clean usable Water bottles, Lunch boxes, Pencils, Erasers,
Pens, Sketch Pens, etc. Clean usable School Bags, usable Notebooks and
Drawing Books with a good number of blank pages. Usable Text Books, Toys and
•  RECYCLABLE ITEMS: Newspapers, Books, Magazines used Paper, Plastic and
Glass Bottles, Discarded Batteries, Waste Cardboard and Paper Boxes, Clean
Plastic Covers, Broken Plastic Articles.

C.Dakchana Moorthy Chettiar Kalyana Nilayam
59, Eswaran Dharmaraja Koil Street
Near Nallam Clinic
Pondicherry – 605 001

Dates for Collection: 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th September 2009

Time: 8.30 am to 8.30 pm

Email: joyofgiving.pondy@gmail.com

Contact: 0413 – 2214868

Contact Hours : 9.30 am to 6.00 pm

Joy of Giving Footer.090912

Goonj: Vastra-Samman a Nationwide Initiative
Goonj is an organization that mobilizes clothing as a resource to empower rural India. Every bit of cloth is transformed into a utility and all usable clothes are distributed to those in need through a well-organized chain of NGOs. Goonj respects the kind hearts of the givers and the self-dignity of the receivers. Every act of “giving” is matched by “work” the receiver does for his/her community.

Shuddham: Connect-Collaborate-Change the World
Shuddham, an NGO, is working to evolve sustainable ways to convert waste into a resource. It is proactively collaborating with the Pondicherry Municipality in the Raj Bhavan ward to create a model for managing solid waste. What is considered waste can actually be invaluable when segregated at source and put to use innovatively. Shuddham also offers training and project experience to volunteers and enthusiasts to come together and help change attitudes towards waste.

CAOS: Collaborate for a Better Future
CAOS Apparels Private Limited (Creative Art of Souls) is an ethical and environmentally conscious export oriented company that designs and manufactures apparels. It is based in Pondicherry, South India, and was founded by Anjali Schiavina in 2002. CAOS strongly believes in ‘collaborating for a better future’ with various organizations and shares the passion and vision, of Shuddham and Goonj, in changing waste into a resource. CAOS and its team are headed towards becoming zero waste.

Battery Recycling Program

Shuddham Wants Your Batteries

Shuddham Wants Your Batteries

Used batteries are hazardous waste.  They contain toxic heavy metals that end up in the waste stream.  In humid conditions or when thrown into dumping grounds or landfills, the battery casings corrode and the metals may contaminate the ground water.  When incinerated, the toxics are released into the atmosphere, and the incinerator ash is contaminated.

The two most common battery types disposed of in Pondicherry are alkaline and zinc chloride, each type making up about 50% of the 23 types of batteries collected so far at Shuddham.  These batteries contain mercury, which can cause brain and nervous system damage to humans.

There is currently no safe handling or recycling of batteries or portable e-waste in Pondicherry.  In order to take one hazardous stream of toxic waste out of the system, Shuddham is collecting used batteries to be sent for recyling.  Shuddham has set up collection points at retail outlets located in the Raj Bhavan ward of Pondicherry, such as Grinde R. Sridharan and Bon Appetit, as well as at the Lycee Francais, the French Instutute and Creative Art of Souls.

Once Shuddham has collected a ton of batteries, they will have it sent to E-Parisaraa, an e-waste recycling company in Bangalore.  At the moment, E-Parisaraa is also collecting batteries.  Once they have sufficient volume, they will either send it abroad for recycling or set up a processing facility in India.

What can you do?

  1. Reduce.  Limit the number of battery-operated instruments, appliances and tools you use.
  2. Reuse.  Purchase rechargeable batteries.  The best option is nickel metal hydride batteries that contain no toxic heavy metals.  Other batteries, including nickel cadmium and rechargeable alkalide batteries, still contain toxic metals such as cadmium and mercury.
  3. Recycle.  In Pondicherry, you can drop off your used batteries at one of the collection centers mentioned above.  Or, start your own collection box.

Lycee Francais Students Visit Parivartan

Listening to Rajamanikam

Listening to Rajamanikam

25 March 2009

Today, the eighth standard students of Lycee Francais de Pondichery visited Parivarthan, Shuddham’s resource center.

Watching the secondary sorting

Watching the secondary sorting

After Rajamankiam explained the process, they watched the secondary sorting taking place.

Lycee at Parivartan - Sorted Materials

Sorted Materials waiting to be "baled"

The Lycee does not currently segregate their garbage into compostable and recyclable materials – their mixed waste can only go to the dump.  The students are now committed to working with Rajamanikam to reorganize their garbage into segregated waste streams.

Shuddham President Probir Banerjee Honored for Excellence in Social Service

Probir Banerjee Receives an Award from Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Govind Singh Gurjar

This morning, in a Republic Day ceremony at Pondicherry’s Indira gandhi Stadium, Lieutenant Governor Govind Singh Gurjar honored our dear friend and colleague Probir Banerjee for his extraordinary devotion to voluntary service to the people of Pondicherry.

Probir serves as the president of both Shuddham, the innovative NGO pioneering simple, effective solid waste management strategies in Pondicherry, and of PondyCAN! (Pondicherry Citizens Action Network), which fights for critical environmental protection and advocates a farseeing program of integrated regional planning. He works tirelessly and selflessly to staunch the erosion of quality of life in our town and to assure that its future will be healthier, happier, and sustainable.

There were two interesting aspects to the Republic Day ceremonies award from which speak volumes about Probir’s impact on the well-being of his community. First, of the two-dozen-or-so awardees felicitated the Lieutenant Governor, Probir alone was honored for social service. Other honorees were policemen, intellectuals, athletes, students, and educational institutions. Second, the event program, which contains a lengthy exposition of the LG’s development agenda for the coming year contains the following item:

To keep pace with the developments, the Government could hardly afford to ignore environmental protection. Sustainable development is the watchword and toi ensure that development is not made at the cost of environmental degradation, the Government of Puducherry has constituted a committee to campaign and implement a “Clean and Green Puducherry” policy. The Ousteri Lake has been declared a protected place for avian fauna. The Governmentis willing to re-examine its policies toward the prevention of coastal erosion.

Most of these ideas reached the Governor’s Palace for the first time in a series of meetings, led by Probir, introducing the new head of the Union Territory government to the work of Shuddham and PondyCAN!. The stated willingness of the Government to take a serious look at Pondicherry’s massive, development-induced coastal management disaster represents a major policy shift. The politicians and administrative bureaucrats in Pondicherry have long supported port development and hard-structure “defenses” to coastal erosion in the form of seawalls and groynes, notwithstanding the patent stupidity of this approach. It’s not clear that the Lieutenant Governor’s good intentions can alter the destructive course they have set. But the mere fact that the question is on the public agenda illustrates the effectiveness of the work of Probir and PondyCAN! in less that two-short years.

So, as you celebrate Republic Day, spare a thought for Probir Banerjee – a kind of present day freedom fighter whose struggle is just beginning to etch its way into the national consciousness.

Inauguration of Parivartan by the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry 25 November 2008



At 11:00am on Tuesday 25 November 2008, Shri Govind Singh Gurjar, His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, will inaugurate the opening of “Parivartan, Shuddham’s composting and recycling center for segregated solid waste collected from the Rajbhavan Ward in Pondicherry.

The following dignitaries will be in attendance for this auspicious event:

  • Thiru A. Namassivayam

Hon’ble Minister Local Administration

  • Sri Ramesh Tiwari

Secretary, Local Administration

  • Manoj Das Gupta

Managing Trustee, Sri Aurobindo Ashram

  • Thiru E. Vallavan

Director, Local Adminsitration

  • Smt B.Sridevi

Chairperson Pondicherry Municipality

  • Thiru Natrajan

Chairperson, Vilianur Commune Panchayat

  • Thiru A. Balasubramaniam

Commissioner Pondicherry Municipality

  • Thiru G. Aneetchan

Commissioner Villiyanur Commune Panchayat

  • Sri V. Arjunan

President Odianpet Village Panchayat

  • Smt Agilarasam

Councilor Odianpet Commune Panchayat

The inauguration will conclude with a tree-planting ceremony initiated by the Lt Governor.

The construction of Parivartan was funded by Direct Relief International, Santa Barbara, California. The land has been leased by the Sri Aurbindo Ashram.

Presently the residential and commercial solid waste in Pondicherry is disposed off in the only operational municipal dump yard at Karuvadikuppam or illegally dumped in the outskirts of town and around water bodies such as Ousteri Lake and Thengaithittu Lagoon. There is no treatment of solid waste done at the municipal dump; the waste is burned from time to time to make room for additional waste. This system of managing solid waste is a health hazard to the workers, the residents near the dumps, and all the citizens of Pondicherry, as the environment and natural resources are degraded through air pollution and toxic leaching into the soil and groundwater and vector-borne diseases are spread.

The government cannot solve this problem without the active involvement and collaboration of all sections of society; citizens, students, the business community, the media and NGOs.

About Shuddham:

Shuddham is a not-for profit, non-governmental organization based in Pondicherry. One of Shuddham’s objectives is to create a model neighbourhood where the government, citizens, students, and other stakeholders collaborate to keep the area clean. Over the past six years, Shuddham has worked to evolve an alternate system of waste disposal

Shuddham’s “zero-garbage” pilot program started with 80 houses and was inaugurated by the then Lt. Governor Rajini Rai in April 2002. This “zero-garbage” program entails the door-to-door collection of segregated household waste. The biodegradable waste is turned into compost and the recyclable items are further sorted and sent for recycling. The program has since grown in stages, first with the addition of 250 households in February 2003, then an addition of 700 households in September 2006. Today Shuddham manages over 16 kilometers of streets and 1,200 households in Rajbhavan ward, collecting a total of approximately 10 tons of “resource” a day.

The segregated waste collected in the Rajbhavan Ward will be taken to Parivartan, where the bio-degradable waste is composted (both ordinary and vermi-compost) and recyclable waste is further sorted. Prior to the construction of the 5,000 square foot recycling center, Shuddham operated the vermi-composting unit in a member’s yard and rented a small shed in Vaithikuppam for secondary sorting.

Shuddham is working with the Government to spread this “Beautiful Pondicherry” movement.

For additional information, please contact:

Ajit G. Reddy (Mobile no 9894092933)

Secretary, Shuddham

39 Rue Lally Tollendal

Pondcherry 605 001

Telephone: (413) 421-0032

Chandigarh Administration Calls for Segregation at Source

Chandigarh, a Union Territory that serves as the capital of two states – Haryana and Punjab – lays claim to many firsts, including the first planned city in India.  Chandigarh was the first Indian city to ban smoking in public places on July 15, 2007.  And on October 2, 2008, Chandigarh banned the use of plastic carry bags.  While the city has already taken many steps to improve its waste disposal system, including removing pubic garbage bins and setting up sehaj safai kendras (SSKs), administrators have felt the need to improve the waste segregation system by segregating the waste at source.  Currently, waste is collected door-to-door, as in the Shuddham model, but unlike the Shuddham model, the waste is segregated at the SSKs.

It is no wonder that the segregation of mixed waste at the SSKs is not very effective.  Mixing waste at the source makes seperation difficult and precludes the recycling of much of the waste.  The organic waste is processed at the Solid Waste Processing Plant (another “first”) in Dadu Majra into pellets that are used in the cement industry.

Shuddham picks up waste which has been segregated at source – at the household level – and composts the organic material and resorts the recyclables which are then sold for various uses.  In the Shuddham case, almost all garbage (except hazardous materials, which are picked up separately) becomes a resource that is recycled.