Queen of dry waste: The inspiring story of Anitha

Queen of dry waste: The inspiring story of Anitha

Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2017-03-08 17:38 Bengaluru: From collecting waste to starting a dry waste collection centre, Anitha KL’s story is a classic example of persevering against the odds and winning.In 2012, when she started the dry waste collection centre with support from an NGO, she was laughed at by residents, local leaders and garbage contractors. Now, she is having the last laugh."I started with a daily collection of only 6 kilos,” says Anita. “The profession was not profitable as I had to give salary for 7 other women. At that time, Anselm Rosario of Waste Wise Trust helped me with funding for four months. From collecting 6 kilos a day to 650 tonnes now, it has been a long journey." A student of ITI Vidya Mandir, Anitha comes from poor family. Her father, an ITI employee, died in 1997. Following his death, her brother took up the job of supporting the family. After finishing her graduation, Anitha, wanting to be of some help to the family, joined an NGO in 2001. Later, she moved to Bridge Network, a confederation of 14 NGOs, and worked for human rights and health issues in slums. It was during this time that she got to know the plight of pourakarmikas and the recycling process."My skills were recognised and I was asked to head the waste management section at Gilgul Charitable Trust. In 2012, I thought of setting up a dry waste collection centre at Yelahanka,” she says.  With the support of her family, Anitha, helped by the trust and the BBMP, which provided the land, opened the dry waste collection centre.Initially, Anitha had to face the might of garbage contractors, who were furious with her for opening the centre as they had less garbage to collect. "Miscreants set the dry waste collection centre on fire twice, but I did not give up," she says with pride.Anitha, who had intimate knowledge of the problems of waste pickers, having been one herself, ensured that waste pickers received a better deal at the centre. “Waste pickers have to cover 18 kms a day and collect dry waste like plastic and pipes and papers. But doing the same at dry waste collection centre will reduce health risk. Besides, they get Rs 300 every day for the work," she says.Anitha makes it a point to meet workers once a day. "I have trained them to segregate 32 types of plastics and three types of papers. These will be sent to recycle and every process happens systematically," she says.