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Chennai's Waste Management System: Exploring The Lives of The Hidden Environmentalists

January 31, 2017 Elloise Neale, Researcher

In January 2017, I joined CAG, where part of my work focuses on their solid waste management (SWM) projects. I started with the Mapping Waste Trails project, which aims to gain a better understanding of the lives of the informal waste pickers engaged in waste recycling in Chennai. Furthermore, we will be tracking the movements of certain recyclables, to ascertain the routes by which such materials traverse the city-scape, and the value added within each step in the routes.

A history of traffic signage

The other day, at the traffic lights, the “No U Turn” sign, with the red line slashed across the bent arrow, caught my eye. It occurred to me that these signs must be standard across the world. Otherwise, in addition to dealing with each country’s traffic idiosyncrasies, one would also have to learn and unlearn traffic signs. This got me wondering when this standardisation came about and what driving a vehicle must have been like before standards were set and implemented.

A shout out to MTC bus drivers

Pedestrians are at the bottom of the pecking order of Indian roads. They are a group to be honked at, splashed with dirty rainwater, and given nasty looks for having the temerity to cross the road when there a motorised vehicle within a one-kilometre radius. And of course, pavements for pedestrians are a waste of space. In short, pedestrians should not be allowed to exist.

BYPASS LAB - A study of peri-urban locality


In the month of June I participated in the BYPASS LAB, a one week workshop organised by the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), IIT Madras and hosted by the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) at Sriperumbudur. The workshop used a combination lectures and practical exercises to train early professionals and students on data gathering, data visualization and design research.

Programmes at the workshop

Case Studies of Community Managed Toilets in Urban Areas

October 13, 2016 Jasmitha Arvind

There is much to learn from the working of previously constructed community managed toilets. When it comes to public sanitation, it is the provision of facilities for the poorest that is often neglected. According to a 2011 census, only 46.9% of India’s homes have a toilet.[1] Open defecation is prominent among those who do not have access to private sanitation facilities and posses many health and safety risks. These could be the urban poor who live in slums and informal settlements and also commuters.

Increasing awareness towards water, sanitation and hygiene

In March 2016, CAG and Real Charitable Trust (RCT), a Chennai based NGO working with communities on health, solid waste management etc.,inaugurated a project with a long-term vision of revitalising the Madhavaram Truck Terminal (MTT) by working with city government officials, sanitation workers, truck drivers and owners, vendors, small businesses working within the terminal to improve the infrastructure and services related to drinking water, toilets, bathing, washing and waste management.

Privatisation and Commercialisation of Water in India

September 28, 2016 Gaurav Dwiwedi

During the past decade and half India has been witnessing measures to reform the water sector based on the financial sustainability model put forward by the international institutions based on principles like full cost recovery, rationalisation of water tariffs, privatisation and public private partnerships across urban, rural as well as agricultural sub-sectors. The move is towards privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of water sector.


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