Milk pack­ets to mat­tress threads: Batla fights back

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - @times­

New Delhi: Masar­rat, a 56-year-old mem­ber of the Samb­hal com­mu­nity, takes time out from her lit­tle tai­lor­ing busi­ness at Batla House to shred plas­tic pack­ets of milk. She, along with other women, then uses these “plas­tic threads” to weave mat­tresses.

She is a part of the project ini­ti­ated by stu­dents of Jamia Mil­lia Is­lamia, who are try­ing to en­sure that the cam­pus — al­ready so­lar-pow­ered — doesn’t gen­er­ate plas­tic waste. The stu­dents have roped in rag­pick­ers who col­lect soft plas­tic waste and sup­ply them to mem­bers of the Samb­hal com­mu­nity. The cheap mat­tresses thus made are sold to an NGO for use by the home­less.

Sau­rabh Su­man, a fourthyear en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent who is on board the project ti­tled “Mis­sion Tab­deel”, said: “We aim to bring forth a trans­for­ma­tion about two major so­ci­etal con­cerns, namely waste man­age­ment and wel­fare of the un­der­priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ties.”

Masar­rat runs her fam­ily by do­ing odd stitch­ing jobs in the lo­cal­ity. She was ap­proached by the stu­dents with a unique pro­posal — turn­ing plas­tic into cloth­ing. “We usu­ally do stitch­ing work, but this was some­thing we had never heard of. Af­ter a few tries with dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, we de­cided to use pack­ets of milk. They are soft and eas­ily mal­leable,” she said.

Rabia (28), who stays in the same lo­cal­ity, took to stit-

The women are part of a project by stu­dents of Jamia Mil­lia Is­lamia, who are try­ing to en­sure that the cam­pus doesn’t gen­er­ate plas­tic waste

ching to sup­ple­ment the in­come of her car­pen­ter hus­band. “We place the plas­tic on a flat sur­face, cut them with scis­sors to cre­ate threads and then weave them. It takes 2-3 days for us to fin­ish the whole process,” she said. On av­er­age, the women earn around 4,000 a month as the stu­dents help them sell the fin­ished prod­ucts to an NGO.

Kafil Khan, a third-year BA eco­nom­ics stu­dent, said the project, cre­ated by En­ac­tus Jamia, “aims to improve waste man­age­ment as well as help improve the stan­dard of life of these women re­sid­ing in Batla House”. The team has also taken up the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ed­u­cat­ing the chil­dren in the lo­cal­ity. Sameer, a Class X stu­dent, takes “reg­u­lar tu­itions” from them. “They also train me in us­ing the com­puter,” he said.

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