When Avinash Pratap Singh, 26, started noticing trash piles in pristine mountain trails, forests and riverbanks, he knew something had to be done to reverse this ecological eclipse. Starting as a volunteer with Waste Warriors (headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand), Singh now leads it as its chief operations officer. He feels their efforts in the urban areas of Dehradun, the mountainous terrain of Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) and forested villages around Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand are paying off.
“Innovative partnerships, community participation and collaboration with state agencies has had an effect. People have begun understanding the difference between recyclables and non-recyclables and how to compost their food waste at home,” says Singh about Waste Warriors, which has collected over 733 tonnes of recyclables and saved 1,805 trees so far. He says the biggest challenge is the total lack of public awareness about waste management.
Asked how littering can be made a thing of the past, the avid trekker says, “First, enrol a large fleet of compartmented pick-up trucks along with trained municipal workers, and implement door-to-door collection of segregated waste ward by ward in order to minimise dumping of household waste on the streets. What is also required is municipal monitoring and enforcement patrol teams whose sole responsibility should be to identify dumping sites and violators.”
Singh says for most of the people his 24 Green Warriors interact with, the bigger waste management picture is often hard to grasp, given the huge data points one is exposed to and the fact that the chain of recycling is quite hidden from the public eye. “When our awareness teams teach people what they can do in their own little way, the learning process helps them to begin rebuilding that connection,” he says.
Singh says that in the near future, Waste Warriors aims to increase public awareness and prove that it is possible to engage with the administration and create positive results.
BROOM TIMES Avinash Pratap Singh at a project site in Dehradun