Monday, March 14, 2016

City college sets an example by recycling 100 kg waste daily

City college sets an example by recycling 100 kg waste daily

Compost pits at Vivekanand Education Society campus. (Prashant Wayande)
Six kilometers away from Deonar dumping ground, an educational institution has set an example for residents in the vicinity by sending zero waste to the landfill.
The civic body has recognised two campuses of the Vivekanand Education Society (VES), Chembur, as the first educational institutions in the city to recycle wet, dry and electronic waste, which is part of its solid waste disposal programme under the guidance of United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The campuses, spread across four acres each, produce 100 kg wet and dry waste every day. Nearly 70 kg of biodegradable waste is segregated for composting, while the remaining 30 kg of dry waste is collected by NGO Shri Mukhti Sanghatna for recycling.
“The dry waste from the VES campus is collected by a vehicle (not dumper trucks) provided by the municipal corporation, while the wet waste is degraded at the campus itself. The combination of both makes the institution a zero waste campus,” Harshad Kale, assistant municipal commissioner, M ward, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
“We have been inviting residents of M ward to see the project and replicate it in smaller ways at their households,” he said.
In addition to horticultural waste such as garden clippings and dried leaves, a large amount of biodegradable waste comes from the canteens. The dry waste is collected from nine higher education institutes spread across the two campuses, schools, a junior college and their sports academy.
Dr Jayashree Phadnis, principal, VES, said, “The fire at Deonar dumping ground made it difficult for students and teachers to attend college. Awareness about treating our own waste is key to solving the solid waste management problems. Inspired by the project, staff members have begun composting wet waste.”
The institute has spent Rs18,000 for the project that was started under the guidance of NGO Stree Mukhti Sanghatna in 2014. Three tons of organic manure has been generated so far. “The waste fed into each of the two compost pits (6ftx4ft) in a month is 1,800 kg. The quantity of compost produced every month is close to 130 kg that is used at football fields, gardens and potted plants,” said Sunita Patil, coordinator, Stree Mukhti Sanghatna.
Electronic waste such as battery cells and other devices are collected and sold to scrap dealers every six months and the money is used to maintain the compost pits and provide water to the open grounds.
Patil added that the dry waste collected from the institute includes paper, plastic, fiber and glass. “The BMC van drops the dry waste at our Chembur office where it is segregated into eight categories and returned to industries or sent for recycling,” she said.
“The daily news on Deonar dumping ground and hazardous chemical in the air around Chembur is a big concern. The best way to make the city care about the environment is through students and projects like these that will ensure a safer future for them,” said Mahesh Tejwani, president, VES.

Neighbourhood apps: The ‘Quora’ for local queries

Neighbourhood apps: The ‘Quora’ for local queries
PRASHANT PITTI, founder, NearGroup
Most of us are unaware of who lives in our neighbourhood and in times of need, we travel long distances without asking our neighbours ... We think these (neighbourhood apps) could be mother of all apps in the future
NEW DELHI: Eight years in Indirapuram has made Rajiv Kaura, 47, an expert on the area. He can tell you who is a good doctor, where to get a new maid and which shops are better.
And for the past few months he has been giving such advice to hundreds of people in his neighbourhood, not directly, but on his smartphone, through a neighbourhood network app. NearGroup, Omni, NearCircles are some options.
“Most of the questions come from people who are new to the place”, Kaura says, “The issues range from advice on higher education to civic amenities.”
Shilpa Abhilash, a ward councillor of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) gets more complaints through the smartphone than manually. “It is easy because we don’t have to rely on officials,” she says.
“Most of us are unaware of who lives in our neighbourhood and in times of need, we travel distances,” says Prashant Pitti, founder of NearGroup, which has about 20,000 users in the NCR region.
Pitti ,who is a marathon runner, got the idea of the app from his troubles in finding a running mate. The former HSBC executive in the US had Nextdoor, a US-based app launched in 2011 and now a unicorn, to model his idea upon.
Jackson Fernadez, co-founder of Omni, says, “Lot of valuable information lies in the localities. It has now become more like a local Quora.” Launched in November 2015, the application has about 10,000 downloads, mainly from Bangalore. “Indians generally value a neighbour’s recommendations a lot. There is a very high trust factor.”
Some of these apps work similar to dating app Tinder to find people in the user’s locality. Others use the user’s choice of locality and puts her/him in a group registered from the same place.
For Suresh Mylavarapu, the difficulty to connect with the new neighbourhoods overseas, made him develop Nearcircles. Launched in August 2015 the app has more than 10,000 users globally. “It is mostly for discussion on local issues,” he says.
Mylavarapu says the objective is to see these platforms help build offline communities.
However, Ashish Jindal of CodeYeti solutions, which developed such an application in 2014 thinks they are extremely difficult to manage. “Most users stalk people, mainly women. Many female users started complaining,” he says. Unable to raise funding and solve these complaints, he stopped further development.
Fernadez of Omni agrees that when more people join it is a challenge to manage the discussions. The app has a report-abuse option.
NearGroup does multiple verifications including that of the Facebook account to eliminate fake profiles, allows anybody to block anybody, and doesn’t allow people to change their locality for at least for three months. Nearcircles also allows community managers in each area to watch over the activities on the group.

Source: Hindustan Times dated 15 March, 2016 Page 18


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