City Pulse


June 10, 2014 By Team ICMYC
After returning from his three decade-long stint abroad, Mr. Ramakanth was appalled by the condition that prevails in Bangalore. “When I left the city, it was full of greenery. Today, all you find here is garbage and concrete buildings”, he says. This ‘harbinger of change’ was driven by his passion for the city. He took up the issue of Solid Waste Management in a bid to realise his dream of finding the city’s lost charm.
Mr. N S Ramakanth holds a master’s degree in Engineering from Banaras Hindu University. He retired as a Chief Engineer from a German company. Upon returning to his hometown, he decided to do something to save the city from degenerating any further. Along with a team of highly motivated people, Mr. Ramakanth started a Residents Welfare Association in Kumara Park West (Sheshadripuram). He was also actively involved in Janaagraha and Bala Janaagraha ever since their inception. He joined Myriam Shankar and Ajesh Shankar, founders of ‘Clean Bengaluru Trust’. They worked towards designing a more sustainable solution to the persistent garbage problem. They would gather a group of residents and hold weekly co-ordination meetings.
He is also an active member of Solid Waste Management Round Table, since it was founded in the year 2009. He strongly advocates Bio-methanisation (a technology used to convert food waste into biogas, used as fuel) and has been in talks with BBMP to adopt the same in our city. Diamond District Apartments on Airport Road is a perfect example to substantiate Mr. Ramakanth’s efforts in solid waste management. In this pilot project, Mr. Ramakanth worked with Shalini Patel and Meenal Patel who took the initiative of segregating waste in their basement.
Segregation of waste was divided in phases. In the first phase, residents were expected to separate wet and dry waste. Second phase involved housekeeping staff to perform secondary segregation. This phase involved separating different types of dry waste such as plastic bottles, milk packets, glass and electronic items.
“When we segregate everything from clothes to food items, why don’t we segregate our waste?” asks Mr Ramakanth. This ideology was promoted among residents and housekeeping staff of the apartment complex. Incentives such as competitions and rewards helped encourage housekeeping staff to participate. Competitions were held between blocks to encourage residents to segregate waste. The housekeeping staff of the ‘Champion blocks’ or the winning blocks would be rewarded with a month’s ration, sponsored school uniforms for their children etc.
Residents were educated on how they could earn Rs.4/day by turning garbage into gold. The apartment association started saving Rs.1500 on BBMP lorry trips to landfills. Instead, they began earning Rs.12,000 a month. All paper waste is sent to Coimbatore ITC paper factory while the plastic waste was sent to a local factory in Bangalore.
Mr. Ramakanth has been urging BBMP to install Biomethanizing plants in the city to manage wet waste. A proposal to install organic waste converters across the city has also been put forth by him. He strongly believes that segregation should be made mandatory for all and suggests penalty for those who fail to do so.
Garbage disposal is emerging to be a major civic issue with the increase in population. Though better garbage management can resolve the issue to a large extent, community participation can complement the procedure to a large level. The solutions put forth by Mr. Ramakanth can resolve the issue as well be incentivising.