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Data Driven Planning for Solid Waste Management in Chennai

Presentation by Harsha Anantharaman on data driven planning for SWM based on experiences in Chennai at the "India's World of Waste" conference hosted by NUS, Singapore in July 2015.

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Integrating informal waste workers through identity cards issued by the municipal government

The primary objective of this project is to achieve the de-criminalization of waste-picking through the introduction of of Corporation of Chennai issued Identity Cards to waste pickers in Chennai city. This project is undertaken by CAG as part of the Initiative on Waste, Informal Workers, and Chennai’s Future, which CAG anchors.

Informal waste workers, referred to as rag pickers or waste pickers form the backbone of waste recycling in the city. They provide an invaluable service to the city as well as to the environment by diverting large amount of wastes from landfills towards recycling. However, due to archaic provisions in the Corporation of Chennai Act, that have remain unchanged since 1919, their source of livelihood is legally questionable. As  a result they face constant harassment from the authorities. Additionally, the work itself carries with it a social stigma, making waste pickers amonst the most vulnerable of the urban poor.

Sustainable SWM through a Zero Waste Pilot at Ward 173

Following a detailed proposal (based on a comprehensive mapping and rigorous waste characterisation study conducted in Ward 173) prepared by the Initiative on Waste, Informal Workers and Chennai’s Future and accepted for implementation by the Corporation of Chennai, this project involves assisting and advising the Corporation of Chennai in the implementation of the pilot, as well as promoting sustainable solid waste management practices elsewhere in the city.

Starting in 2013, a series of public consultations anchored by the Initiative on Waste, Informal Workers and Chennai’s Future came to the conclusion that Chennai needed to pursue sustainable and inclusive SWM practices and in order to move the city towards sustainable SWM, a working zero-waste pilot in a single ward was required as a model. This led to the Zero-Waste pilot at Ward 173.