Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
In a small village in Telangana’s Mulugu district, C Narayana Reddy along with some others arranged a competition between school students.
“Whoever is able to collect the highest number of plastic bottles in the area within an hour will get a cricket kit as reward,” Reddy told them.
In one hour, the students collected about 1,000 plastic bottles from a village as small as theirs. Reddy and the others were shocked to find out that even a tiny village like this one can generate such a massive amount of plastic waste.
C Narayana Reddy is the district collector of Mulugu. After this experiment with the children, he made up his mind to conduct a similar activity across as many as 174 villages in the district.
“My intention is to stop the use of single-use plastic in the villages. So we communicated with all these villages and told them that for every 1 kg of plastic that they can provide us with, we will give them 1 kg of rice,” Reddy tells The Logical Indian.
“Rice is something people in rural areas are always in need of. Therefore, we thought it would be an incentive that would encourage these people to keep the village clean,” he adds.
As people got to know about Reddy’s initiative, which is a programme he ran from October 16 to October 26, several of them came forward to donate rice and encourage him in his journey to make the villages plastic-free.
“As of now, we have collected 450 quintals of rice and donation of Rs 6 lakh. We are distributing rice across the villages and collecting the plastic waste from the gram panchayat’s office. If we look at the broader picture, banning plastic and not providing the villagers with an alternative is unfair. Therefore, we asked for the government’s approval to set up paper bag making units in the villages, and we should hear from them soon,” Reddy says.
“With the money that was donated to us, we have hired two to three tailors in each village. We have asked people to come forward with any cloth that they do not wish to use anymore. The tailors here are making bags out of the cloth and giving them back to the people. We have made around 35,000 bags this way,” he adds.
Through the programme and through school activities, over 31,000 kg of plastic has been collected. The initiative has actually provided women and children with a livelihood, as they spend the day collecting plastic waste, and later visit the panchayat’s office to submit it and get rice in return.
“Initially, the villagers were not sure about their participation because they wanted to be sure that we would give them the rice that we promised. Once they found out that we were genuinely running the programme for a greater cause, they put all the effort possible to help us. The result has been tremendous. The villages have been left spick and span,” says Reddy.
After the 10-day long programme comes to an end, there will be a permanent ban on single-use plastic across the villages.
“From this Diwali onwards, we will discard all the single-use plastics in the village. At the same time, we are associated with an agency that will collect recyclable plastic waste from the villages for recycling and reuse,” Reddy says.
The environment is getting engulfed by plastic because of its widespread usage and its durability component. Recently, after conducting a five-hour-long surgery on a cow, surgeons from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University fished out 52 kg of non-biodegradable substance from its stomach. The waste in the cow’s stomach also included needles, coin, a screw and pins. In a situation as dire as this, when making the planet plastic-free is the need of the hour, The Logical Indian appreciates Reddy for his effort to make the earth greener and cleaner.
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