Author Archives: mbjesq

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.


Watch the New Shuddham Video!

Watch the new Shuddham video, celebrating the wonderful work done by the Shuddham “Beautifiers” to help keep Pondicherry’s Raj Bhavan neighborhood clean and to help create a model for urban waste management that can reverse the epidemic of filth that plagues India.

Health and Freedom in a Simple Piece of Cloth

Sanitary napkins made from waste cloth by Goonj

Where most people see trash, Shuddham sees opportunity; so it was only natural that fashion designer Anjali Schiavino would turn to Shuddham with her problem. Anjali was making an exclusive line of organic cotton clothing for a European client and wondered if there was a constructive use to which the pattern trimmings could be put. Thanks to our friend Anshu Gupta, we came up with an answer which Anjali immediately proclaimed as, “super cool!”

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Shuddham Presents on Solid Waste Management Policy at National Workshop

Solid Waste Management Policy Paper, Shuddham

This weekend, Shuddham participated in the National Workshop on Environmental Policy Integration for Greening the Indian Economy at Pondicherry University. We were asked to present a paper and give a presentation on approaches to policy development for solid waste management.

Simply click-away to read our paper, The Parameters of Policy Development for Effective Solid Waste Management in Pondicherry, or view our presentation slides.

New Resource Center Construction Well Underway

Shuddham Recycling Center under construction

Construction of the new resource center is well underway, and Phase I should be completed by April. The center will contain discrete areas for secondary sorting of inorganic waste for recycling, conventional composting, vermicomposting, and research and development. In this latter section, we will be looking at high-value ways of extracting value from our waste streams, preferably right here within our community.

The fuel briquetting experiments are one example of our R&D efforts; studying the feasibility of replicating Goonj’s Not Just a Piece of Cloth program for the reuse of scrap cotton from local clothing companies is another.

Stay tuned for news of the opening!

Shuddham Recycling Center construction planning

From Waste to Fuel

Fuel briquette made from recycling biomass waste

Research is underway here at Shuddham to explore the feasibility of converting a portion of our segregated waste stream (principally paper, cardboard, and sawdust) into biomass fuel briquettes. Early prototypes, pictured above, were formed under consdierable pressure using an old motorcycle cylinder and piston, and a hydrolic press.

A more traditional forming-and-drying method is also being tested.

Fuel patties made from recycling biomass waste

The formulations are being combustion-tested at Aprovecho Research Center — the world’s leading experts in biomass cookstove engineering — to ensure that the briquettes do not give off undue quantities of carbon monoxide and harmful particulates when burned.

Biomass remains the most common cooking fuel in the villages of India — including those around Pondicherry. In fact, most of the Shuddham “Beautifiers” use biomass cookstoves in their own kitchens. It would be a nice re-use of our combustible waste stream to create cooking fuel.