Beyond Money
Waste to wealth

Garbage Concern tackles the problem of rubbish and imparts knowledge on the matter of filth

One of the most pressing problems of India’s unplanned urban expansion is the lack of sanitation and waste-management system. To top that, Mumbai is running out of space for dumping grounds. It is precisely to tackle this problem that Professor Francin Pinto started a non-governmental organisation called ‘Garbage Concern Welfare Society’ in 2005.

A former lecturer in Zoology at the University of Mumbai, Professor Pinto is currently doing her thesis on effective waste management and working as a visiting lecturer on environment & waste management at St Xavier’s College. “I never believed in one-day clean-up drives. I had a long-term vision and wanted to find an alternative to plastic bags. With that aim, in 2004, I joined an NGO called Oasis,” says Professor Pinto. She started pursuing her PhD and, after a year, launched her own NGO, Garbage Concern, in Kandivli and registered it as a trust. It is a research & education based NGO which has educated more than a thousand people on the environmental hazards caused by unattended and untreated garbage.

“The problem of indifference, which we face now, has been there since the start,” Ms Pinto says. “Initially, funding was a problem because nobody wanted to invest for the environment, where the results are not apparent immediately.” To support the initiative financially, Ms Pinto started an environmental consultancy company called 3-S Envo Solutions whose profits funded the NGO. Now, the consultancy too has grown and boasts a turnover of Rs70 lakh. Today, Ms Pinto and her team are approached by many corporates for their CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ‘green’ initiatives. Ms Pinto has recently been nominated for a ‘Woman Entrepreneur Loan’ from the State Bank of India for furthering her work.

Through seminars, workshops and photo exhibitions, Garbage Concern teaches local residents about proper ways of waste management, segregating dry and wet garbage at source and vermi-composting by making compost out of garbage by introducing worms and microbes in it. It even collaborates with BMC (Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika) and hospitals, sensitising staff and educating them in proper ways of collecting and segregating waste. The NGO also specialises in environmental awareness programmes at various institutions, and provides training to boys who are local school dropouts to take care of composting.

“We are involved in a lot of projects, like waste management in 192 slums apart from schools, colleges, public gardens and even many housing societies nearby,” said Ms Pinto. The strategies of waste management vary, because a compost pit is not viable everywhere. “In some places, we aim for biogas generation,” she says, “but if we have compost, we persuade the residents/corporates to use it for window ledges or terrace gardens. Marketing the compost without proper infrastructure is problematic; using it for gardening instead adds to greenery and releases oxygen.”

Thanks to Garbage Concern’s efforts, K Raheja College of Architecture and Environment Study at Juhu (western Mumbai) adopted a ‘zero-waste’ policy, which entails 90% of waste generated being reused and recycled. Starting with a two-bin system for segregating waste, the college constructed a unit to convert biodegradable waste into valuable vermicompost. “Today, more people are realising that waste management is a big problem; there are companies and authorities ready to take up the drive with gusto,” Ms Pinto says. Her students participate in the NGO’s activities, for which they also get stipends and certificates.

“It’s not just a matter of charity,” she says, “We want people to profit from it too. I say that the job must promise dignity, so that rag-pickers or our waste-collectors take up the profession with pride.” All contributions made to Garbage Concern are exempt under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.

GARBAGE CONCERN WELFARE SOCIETY

501/2, Royal Apartment
Sector VI, Charkop
Kandivli (W),
Mumbai 400 067
Tel: 022 3225 6427
www.garbageconcernindia.org
[email protected]

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Govt may restore interest subsidy for exporters

The move is an effort to maintain the country's competitiveness in the global market wherein small exporters may get subsidy between 3.5%-3.75% while for large corporates it may be 2% subvention

New Delhi: After taking a decision to end the tax-refund Duty Entitlement PassBook (DEPB) scheme from 1st October, the government is likely to restore interest subsidy for exporters to maintain the country's competitiveness in the global market, reports PTI.

"Small exporters may get subsidy between 3.5%-3.75% whereas for large corporates it may be 2% subvention," a source said. The decision in this regard may be announced soon, he said.

He said discussions have already been held between top exporters' organisations and the finance ministry in this regard.

The interest subvention scheme, which lapsed on 31st March, had offered 2% discount on the interest rate charged by banks.

Exporters have been putting pressure on the government that they should be given access to finance at subsidised interest rates since they are to compete with China, where borrowing cost is quite less.

Besides, under the alternative scheme to the DEPB the stimulus which was given in the form of sops to the extent of 2%-3% has also been withdrawn.

Exporters' body Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said the robust growth in exports witnessed in the April-August period may not be sustained in the third and fourth quarter of the current fiscal.

"Exports growth may not maintain the tempo due to rising credit and input cost. Exports may grow merely 10%-12% in the second half of the current fiscal," FIEO president Ramu Deora said.

During April-August this fiscal, exports increased by 54.2% to $134.5 billion.

On rupee depreciation, which fell 41 paise today to an over two-year low of Rs48.74 against the US dollar, Mr Deora said that it is not much of a gain to the exporters.

"Every exporter is also an importer. Weak rupee has increased the raw material cost by 4% to 5%, thus, making our imports expensive," he said.

FIEO said exporters are also under pressure to maintain their competitiveness overseas and double their exports to $450 billion by 2013-14.

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For youth, Internet is a basic necessity: Survey

The Cisco study pointed out that four out of five college students and young employees believed that the internet is important and an essential part of their lives. In India, 95% of the college students and young employees surveyed said the internet is as important in their lives as water, food, air and shelter

New Delhi/Chennai: Internet access seems to have become a basic need, ranking behind air, water, food and shelter for at least for 33% of the respondents to a global survey by networking giant Cisco, reports PTI.

The study also pointed out that four out of five college students and young employees surveyed believed that the internet is important and an essential part of their lives.

The 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report conducted by third-party market research firm InsightExpress surveyed 1,441 college students (aged 18-24) and 1,412 employees (aged 21-29) from 14 countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Russia, India and China.

In India, 95% of the college students and young employees surveyed said the internet is as important in their lives as water, food, air and shelter.

"Internet is no longer a 'good to have', it is now a 'must have'. There is a conscious need to be connected at all times from all locations, accelerated by the growth of social media and smart mobile devices which provide easy access to the Internet," Cisco India and SAARC vice-president (Borderless Networks) Mahesh Gupta told reporters in a teleconference.

The report provides an insight into this phenomenon by focusing on current and future employees and provides a barometer on how companies can best address their needs, expectations and issues, he added.

About 64% of the respondents (two out of three) said they would prefer an internet connection over a car.

In addition, about 40% of respondents globally (two out of five) said the worldwide web is more important than dating or going out with friends or even listening to music.

On the importance of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to the younger generation, the report said 27% (one in four) said they would rather update their status messages on Facebook than party, date or hang out with friends, if there had to be a choice between them.

On the importance of mobile devices in their day-to-day lives, the study said 71% of respondents in India answered in the affirmative, the second-highest number after the UK (74%) and ahead of countries like Australia (66%), China (62%) and the US (62%).

The survey also revealed that smartphones and laptops trumped televisions in the survey respondents' preference, with only one out of 10 college students opting for TV as the most important device in their lives.

The report also strongly indicated that the use of paper has gone down significantly among the youth, as two out of five students have not bought a book from a bookstore in the last two years.

In terms of usage of social networking site Facebook, Indian respondents were ranked highest in the survey, with 92% of students checking their accounts daily, while one-third (33%) check their virtual walls at least five times a day.

The survey also said 85% of employees in India confirmed adding their colleagues and managers as friends on Facebook.

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