Use of plastic is so prevalent that it can cover half the planet. It is an environmental disaster and we know how the environment is drastically changing due to it. We have to be cautious about our future. Waste alternatives can change the future, says Hari Chandana Dasari, Zonal and Additional Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), in conversation with Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN).
Please tell us about the vision of GHMC on banning single-use palstics.
States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh have been taking steps in completely banning of plastic. However, Telangana is conceptualising plans to curb the plastics menace step-by-step. We need to change the local dynamics and also the dynamics of manufacturing and consumer consumption. Therefore, we have decided that we will go step-by-step, wherein first we will encourage people to adopt alternate waste management solutions and give them a better alternative to plastics, and then we will look for enforcement. First, we want to convince people that there are better and safer alternatives. Through Elets Waste Alternate Conclave, we will showcase the alternatives to people. After people get inspired, we will go ahead with a complete ban on plastic usage.
Tell us about the ‘Loo Cafes’ initiative launched recently in Hyderabad.
Loo Cafes is one of the most innovative initiatives of GHMC. We have toilets everywhere but their consistent maintenance is a major issue. So, we decided to link toilets with a place where food is eaten because wherever we eat food, we tend to keep it as clean as possible. The idea is based on the premises that once we open a café and install a toilet there, people will not think of making the place dirty. It will also serve as a place for customers that can be used in multiple ways. For example, after using the washroom, citizens can read newspapers, pick up a coffee or a chai, etc. We are also installing ATMs in these cafes. By keeping all these facilities in one place and creating a commercial model around it, we will ensure that the toilets are maintained regularly. Having ATM at these cafes will ensure vigilance through security camera along with a security guard. When a cafe will be opened, the local community will try to keep it as clean as possible. It is also a business opportunity for the person running the cafe. It is a zero-cost project for the corporation. We are inviting private companies to install the cafes in PPP mode. GHMC will provide the land lease and other permissions to run and maintain of these cafes
According to you, which part of the society will get the maximum benefit of it?
The initiative is mainly design for women as they don’t feel safe going to toilets alone. We have a person manning the cafe 24 hours so that they feel safe. We are planning to open 130 such cafes across the city. Few will be taken up soon.
Other such Public Private Partnerships (PPP) model projects GHMC is planning for?
This is a one-of-its-kind of experiment. We are also looking at other ways of waste management. We are mulling biomethanation and power generation from wet waste. We have experimented with the compost a lot but selling and mass production of compost is an issue. Municipal waste always has mixed components. So, we are open to building biomethanation plants under the PPP model. Right now we are going for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) model where companies pitch in to produce CNG out of waste. The CNG is then given to Swachh Autos. The PPP projects are mostly for the beautification of the city.
We are using them in sustainable practices. There are some companies which come and train our women in creating artifacts from water hysil, which is a pollutant. We keep removing it every three months. It becomes another part of our wet waste dump. But recycling it creates employment. What are your plans for the beautification of lakes in Hyderabad? We have seven lakes under adoption and beautification. One of them is ready for inauguration. We have spent Rs 15 crores on that so far. We will be spending another Rs 40 crore on that lake alone. Seven other lakes have been adopted by various companies under their CSR initiatives. Work is in progress on them.
What is your vision to turn these lakes into a tourist spot?
Everybody likes being around a water body. We want to develop lakes first as local hotspots where people can come, relax and enjoy nature. And then, we want to develop larger lakes into national tourist spots.
You have engaged youths through various initiatives. Can you highlight some of them?
We started a programme called ‘Swachh Interns’. Citizens normally want to contribute to the city but they don’t know how to do it in a structured way. We designed this programme where they are asked to come and volunteer and that too in specified sectors like cleaning of lakes, or take up door-to-door campaigns. So every week they will be doing one of these activities which will make them aware more about city’s environment. This will help in waste management and will also give them an opportunity to do something for the society.
What is your message for the citizens of Hyderabad?
Use of plastic is so prevalent that it can cover the half the planet. It is an environment disaster and we know how the environment is drastically changing due to it. We have to be cautious about our future. Waste alternatives can change Lake beautification by GHMC the future.