Meera Waghmare works as a house help in Pune. She resides in an 80-sq-ft space at Indira Vasti in Aundh and has a walk-in wardrobe, a hall, a kitchen, an attached toilet and bath, and a freshly painted green wall for added appeal. All this has been made possible by judiciously collecting scrap material that is often discarded without a second thought.
How did this happen?
Laxmi Narayan is a member of the governing body of SWaCH, which is India’s first wholly-owned cooperative of self-employed waste collectors and other urban poor.
SWaCH is an autonomous enterprise that provides front-end waste management services to the citizens of Pune. While Laxmi was getting her house renovated, her help, Meera was so taken in with all the new fittings that she requested for some change to her place.
It was this request that led to the utilisation of a lot of the scraps left over after the construction.
Meera’s house proved to be a launching pad for similar projects. Over the last six months, SWaCH has remodelled three homes for waste-pickers, using recycled construction material and the organisation has now requested the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and developers to ensure that the needy get construction material to be recycled at a lower cost.
Narayan told the Pune Mirror that SWaCH has also contacted CREDAI (Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India) office-bearers and requested them to provide this waste for recycling. The organisation also plans to involve architects and students from the city in the design process.
She added that the idea of the project is simple. The city of Pune generates a considerable amount of construction waste. This includes waste which can be reused but is thrown away merely because it is left in bits and pieces. Processing it is a strain and landfills are frequently overflowing, so SWaCH will source such material in the form of donations and reuse it for building homes for the needy.