An ENT specialist, Dr. Sarika Verma has been actively working towards environment conservation, preserving the Aravallis, and waste management in the community for several years. She is one of the pioneers who started working for waste management in her residential society, Raheja Atlantis, Gurugram with a group of people. Today, the entire society has become an example of waste management.
Dr. Sarika shares, “The turning point was four years back when Gurgaon was declared the most polluted city in the world. I started researching what we could do on individual levels to make a difference.” She started managing waste with a few residents who came on board and agreed to segregate their waste into wet and dry." She adds further, “We convinced the RWA board to start door-to-door waste collection by making a trolley with 2 bins and 1 bag concept. That way, we made our initial collective efforts.”
While talking about the waste management process, Dr. Sarika says, “First, we got a trolley ready to fit into the lifts. Second I took multiple classes to train housekeeping staff, residents, and domestic help to understand wet and dry segregation, the importance of doing it properly. We keep a regular check on the waste segregation unit and always keep it clean and pest free.”
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The beginning of waste management was not an easy task for the community. As per Sarika, it was a pilot project, which in the beginning faced its shares of challenges. “After the pilot project went well in 40 houses, we tried to extend this in all 270 houses. A lot of people agreed but some would not give segregated waste, they continued to throw mixed waste down the chutes which was a challenge. We asked volunteers to spend one Sunday visiting such households and sensitize them about the importance of waste segregation and its impact on the air they breathe,” says Sarika.
Sarika has been doing this for four years now and she looks back at her journey with relief and satisfaction. “I am happy that we have been able to create a workable model and now, we want to extend it to all 3000 households in sector 31. If we are able to replicate the model in every colony of Gurgaon, I am quite sure it will have a lasting impact on air quality. Our aim is that near-zero waste should go for dumping to the landfill at Bandhwari."
Sarika says that there must be a collective effort by the community in handling waste effectively. She believes that a city like Gurgaon should see a paradigm shift in managing waste in a sustainable manner. “People have started working collectively and that is the need of the hour. I am hopeful" says Sarika with confidence and a smile on her face.
Sarika says that everyone wants clean air but doesn't want to make any effort towards it. In a message to the society, Sarika says, “Gandhiji said we must be the change we seek in the world. Don't wait for others to fix air pollution in your city- become leaders in waste management. We don't need a handful of people doing waste segregation perfectly, we need billions of people trying to do it, even if it's imperfect, it's better than nothing.”