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South Asian Development News
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Chhattisgarh Communities Assert Forest Rights

A small Gond village in Chhattisgarh has been giving the forest development corporation, also known as the Chhattisgarh Rajya Van Vikas Nigam, sleepless nights.

( Source: DownToEarth, Posted: Jun 21, 2016)
Bringing Together Waste Collectors and Generators

Citizengage takes complete responsibility of the waste generated from house or office, and makes sure it is used well. “Ashish and I started Citizengage because we felt we just had to end this complete wastage of waste. The economic value of what's being wasted in our country is just astronomical and we can't be a nation of 500 million youth who don't figure out an alternative that gives us a better future than the current state we've inherited,” says Pronita Saxena, Founder and CEO of Citizengage – a waste to resource network. Citizengage connects waste collectors to people in Bengaluru who want a responsible waste management system, which ensures that the collected waste is being recycled and put to good use. According to Pronita, about 85% of waste generated in India is recyclable and yet, over 90% of it is dumped in landfills where it just sits around for ages till it ends up contaminating the groundwater, emitting toxic greenhouse gases, spreading health hazards in the neighbouring regions, and so on.

If the garbage dumped in Indian landfills in 2011 alone had been recycled, it would have provided resources worth USD 15 billion that could have been used to produce fuel, compost, fertiliser supplements for farmers, and a lot more.

citizengage1 But the problem here is that even some of the most conscious citizens in the country are not sure if the waste generated in their homes is reaching the recycling units or not. Even when it is segregated at source, there are high chances of everything being mixed up and ending up in the landfills. And that is the gap that Citizengage is trying to fill.
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The organization works with communities and businesses in Bengaluru, collecting waste from building complexes, residential societies, restaurants, hotels, malls, offices, and other commercial establishments. It works with independent waste collectors on a contract basis, to collect the waste from these places every day. Wet or organic waste is taken to biogas plants, composting facilities, or piggeries around the city, and dry waste is taken to recycling centres where it is further segregated and recycled. Citizengage aims to utilise existing resources that are underutilised, instead of creating new processing sites. This is why the platform aims to fill existing biogas plants and recycling centres to capacity with people who are already working in the same field. The organization officially started working in January 2015 after the founders, Pronita and Ashish Malayil, came across the severity of the existing garbage problem in another civic tech startup where they were working. The start-up was sending water supply alerts to users, and a few communities asked if they could do the same thing for waste collection as well. Curious about the idea, the duo started exploring the problem, only to realize that there was an immediate need for a better waste-to-resource management system across the country. Today, Citizengage has over 50 businesses and 1,050 households utilising the platform.

They are not involved with individual households as of now, but garbage from all houses in any residential society that signs up, is managed end-to-end.

“We are building the foundation of recycling economies of the future. That means creating a network that connects waste generators to collectors and processors who can repurpose that waste as a resource. We run this platform in real-time, exploiting the latest technologies to make these matches smarter and more efficient,” says Pronita, talking about how the waste collectors are connected with people.
Each collector has a mobile application to help find directions to places from where they have to collect garbage. And the waste generators are trained to segregate the waste before handing it over to the collectors.

Once a residential society, apartment, or an organization reaches out to Citizengage, the team visits the area to find out more about the requirements and to ensure that there are systems to maintain segregation from each bin, to the central collection point.

citizengage3 After this, the residents, staff, and the entire community that affects waste management, is trained on segregation at source and maintaining the system through customized technology.
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In just four months after signing up their first revenue paying customers, Citizengage had successfully converted over 350 tonnes of waste into useful energy, compost, food for pigs, and other recyclable products.

citizengage7 (1) Prior to starting Citizengage, Pronita’s career spanned across policy research, clean energy, and tech startup industries and took her across India, the US, and Bangladesh after she completed her degree in Economics from Berkeley. Co-founder Ashish, a mechanical and marine engineer by training, who sailed aboard oil tankers in the Merchant Navy, is responsible for all aspects of network management at Citizengage, including working with collectors, transporters, and processing sites to ensure that the maximum amount of waste is repurposed and diverted from landfills.
"For me, it's always been about energy. I've seen what a fossil fuel reliant economy looks like, so discovering the missed opportunity of converting waste into an energy alternative made starting Citizengage a no-brainer for me," he says.

The waste collectors working with Citizengage are paid on the basis of performance, much like the Uber or Ola model.

citizengage4 This way, the collectors get a chance to earn steady incomes, belong to a formalized network, and earn the respect they deserve. The charges for users depend on the quantity and quality of waste, and they can find out more by visiting the Citizengage website. Recently, citizens in the Domlur area of Bengaluru observed the power in waste as Citizengage has been feeding the biogas plant that powers the lighting for a park with organic waste from the neighbourhood. The plant produces around 40 KV power to light up 44 lamps installed in the park – all from waste.
“Every time we share this example of waste-to-energy, it activates people's imaginations about what is possible. Someday, we hope to power entire cities this way and provide the foundation for recycling economies of the future, with a better waste management system,” says Ashish.

The current team at Citizengage includes 17 people. While the initial funds for starting up were invested by the founders themselves, they are now raising external funds for expansion too.

citizengage6 “Both Ashish and I are problem solvers who believe India can have a tremendous future, not just a glorious past. I moved back because I feel, as the world’s largest democracy, we have both an obligation and tremendous opportunity to bring basic civic services into the digital age. Quite simply, I want to see India emerge as an innovation hub for civic services globally, and it would be an honour to play even a small part in that story," concludes Pronita. You can contact Citizengage by writing to them at info@citizengage.co.
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Like this story? Have something to share? Email: contact@thebetterindia.com, or join us on Facebook and Twitter (@thebetterindia). To get positive news on WhatsApp, just send 'Start' to 090 2900 3600 via WhatsApp.

( Source: BetterIndia, Posted: Jun 21, 2016)
Telling Tales from the Northeast

There is hardly any cinema industry or theatres existing in some of the Northeastern states of India though the seeds of cinema were sown in Assam way back in 1935.

( Source: IndiaTogether, Posted: Jun 21, 2016)
Turnaround of Microfinance Sector

Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) is the first Self-Regulatory Organisation in the Indian financial sector, recognised by the RBI, which keeps a close tab on how MFIs function.

( Source: CivilSocietyOnline, Posted: Jun 21, 2016)
FCRA Provisions Remind of Emergency Era?

Civil Society leaders say that FCRA has become a tool to muzzle dissent and urged the government to stop targeting NGOs in the name of FCRA because it affects people living in the margins.

( Source: OneWorld, Posted: Jun 15, 2016)
Garage Sales and Lemonade Stands

Be it raising funds for charitable organisations, gifting stationary to kids at an orphanage, or the simple act of giving her bar of chocolate to a girl begging at a signal – Maanavi is actively involved in working towards bringing cheer in whichever way she can.

( Source: BetterIndia, Posted: Jun 15, 2016)
Jharkhand Plans for Better NREGA Outcomes

A 3-day planning process undertaken as part of a state-wide campaign for NREGA implementation in every village in Jharkhand has sensitized the people and authorities.

( Source: IndiaTogether, Posted: Jun 15, 2016)
Disposed Water Cans Save 100 Trees

One summer day, Ramesh decided to try and save the remaining trees and plants on the hill:

( Source: BetterIndia, Posted: Jun 15, 2016)
A Look at Pakistani Budget

The resource crunch did not permit wider liberal dole outs but the budget proposals attempted to win over the poor, the bureaucracy, export-oriented industrialists and rural constituency. The urban middle class has largely been left out to fend for itself.

( Source: dawn.com, Posted: Jun 6, 2016)
Heritage Showdown in Kolkata

Many of the heritage homes that have disappeared or have been altered to serve the needs of increasingly consumerist times were once occupied by men and women who made the Calcutta famous.

( Source: CivilSocietyOnline, Posted: Jun 6, 2016)
Delhi Government Plans to Tackle Water Shortage

The Delhi government has released an action plan to tackle water shortage specifically targeting the Palla-Wazirabad section of the Yamuna floodplain.

( Source: DownToEarth, Posted: Jun 6, 2016)
Assam Wetlands May Lose Protection

The rivers and wetlands in Assam may soon lose the much required protection provided by the new Draft Wetland Rules 2016

( Source: News Nation, Posted: Jun 6, 2016)
Sikkim Bans Plastic Mineral Water Bottles

Sikkim, which is touted to be the cleanest state in India, has taken another step to reduce its carbon footprint.

( Source: officechai.com, Posted: May 31, 2016)
Arunachal Gets a Breather from Tawang Hydro Power Project

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) will not challenge the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that suspended environmental clearance to the 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu hydropower project in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

( Source: DownToEarth, Posted: May 31, 2016)
The Poisons we Play with Everyday

From the paints in our homes to the discarded CFL tubes, the sources of toxic chemicals that pose a serious threat to our health and afety are omnipresent.

( Source: IndiaTogether, Posted: May 29, 2016)
New Pesticide Guidelines Seek Phase-out of Risky Toxins

To reduce the danger caused by pesticides to human health and environment FAO and WHO have released new guidelines.

( Source: OneWorld, Posted: May 28, 2016)
Jamshedpur to Become Zero Water Discharge City

In a year, Jamshedpur will become the first Indian city to have zero sewerage discharge.

( Source: IndiaTimes, Posted: May 23, 2016)
JNU Celebrates Street Theatre with Sahmat

National Street Theatre Day is also the birth anniversary of Safdar Hashmi, the slain theatre artiste.

( Source: http://civilsocietyonline.com/campus/jnu-celebrates-street-theatre/, Posted: May 23, 2016)
Eco-Cooler to Handle Summer Heat

The process involves creating grids made from repurposed plastic bottles cut in half and installed on windows as per size. Based on the direction of the wind and the pressure created by airflow, the Eco-Cooler decreases the temperature by up to five degrees Celsius.

( Source: yourstory.com, Posted: May 23, 2016)
BIte of Cancer from Bread

A new study by Delhi-based non-profit CSE has shown that 84 per cent of bread and bakery samples collected from the city contain residues of potassium bromate, potassium iodate or both.

( Source: DownToEarth, Posted: May 23, 2016)
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