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Turning Plastic Waste into Wealth in Changlang

It is not just a plastic shredding unit in Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh, launched there by Deputy Commissioner Devansh Yadav. It is aiding thousands of locals and scores of women in the district, by generating employment and livelihood opportunities for them.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Changlang, the second most populous district in Arunachal Pradesh, which takes waste from three neighboring districts – Lohit, Namsai, and Tirap- has been dealing with a lack of waste management infrastructure and limited waste segregation. This is because there are no waste processing units in Changlang. However, in 2019 an AIIMS doctor-turned-IAS officer installed a plastic shredder unit which is now transforming `waste into wealth’, besides boosting the rural economy in the insurgency-hit district.

ISSUES REALTED TO WASTE MANAGEMENT

This officer is Mr Devansh Yadav, the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang. Speaking with Indian Masterminds, he said “The main issue is that no processing of waste takes place in the district. And at place where processing can take place, there is a lack of adequate landfills to dispose the waste. Even the places having landfills are not scientifically managed.

“There are four biodiversity hotspots in India and Changlang falls under the North-Eastern one, which covers the eastern Assam and Namdapha National Park. With a rise in population at a place which is a biodiversity hotspot and militancy hotbed, several issues are faced as more plastic waste is generated.”

Also, in a developing district like Changlang, road construction projects are being accorded the highest priority.

GROWTH AND EVOLUTION

With the lack of landfills in the Changlang district, the village panchayat volunteered in identifying a dumping ground in Kumung Pather Village. Thereafter, door to door waste collection started in Bordumsa town, and waste started accumulating in the dumping ground. Soon, as the waste was being accumulated, demands started coming from the panchayat for the disposal of waste.

Plastic Shredding Unit

Acting upon the demands, centrally-located Kumung Pather village got the first plastic shredding unit in the district. The village’s vicinity to the national highway made it the first choice to install the unit. The project not only encouraged the local residents to gain employment, but it also got shortlisted in the top six projects for innovation under the Prime Minister’s Awards, 2020!

THE PROCESS

Changlang being new to the development stage in the state, road construction projects became the highest priority for the administration. Mr. Yadav said, “While the road construction project was being undertaken, I saw the opportunity to converge it with the plastic shredding unit.”

Segregated plastic bottles being used to built a Greenhouse unit in Changlang.

Soon the plastic shredding unit consisting of three machines was installed, seeking funds from oil exploration major Oil India Limited (OIL), under its corporate social responsibility (CSR). A company based in Hyderabad called Recykal limited came on board and helped in channelizing of funds for the project, under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Plastic waste was transported from the neighboring districts of Lohit, Namsai, and Tirap. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the process remained inoperative and there was a lag of six months. According to Mr. Yadav, “Around 13-14 metric tonne of plastic was shredded which generated revenue amounting to Rs. 2.75 lakhs.”

BENEFITS OF THE PROJECT

This process of accumulating waste to shredding it for making roads in the district is benefitting a lot of people. First of all, over a thousand people in the Kumung Pather village panchayat are benefitting from the revenue earned through the process. The profits is also helping in addressing local development needs like school repairs and installation of solar lights etc.

The process is also generating livelihood opportunities as the local youth from the village are getting employment for running the plastic shredding machine. Apart from this, 60-70 Self Help Group (SHG) of women in all the four districts are being mobilized The SHG and the waste pickers are also getting linked with the market.

Lastly, the shredded plastic from the waste processing unit is also coming out handy in the road construction work. The use of this plastic will lead to stronger and low maintenance roads.


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