Unlike their daily routine, Manjamma and Lakshmi, both waste-pickers in their mid-30s, were brainstorming in the spacious campus of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on Saturday to find alternative ideas on waste management.
In an attempt to improve safety and productivity, these women among others were working in different groups with research students, professionals and engineers looking for out-of-the-box solutions for Bengaluru’s biggest civic problem: Garbage. Titled ‘Reimagine Waste - a hackathon for waste management’, the first-of-its-kind event brought together a big group of 147 participants including 36 waste-pickers. The event was jointly organised by Waste Impact in association with Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing and Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning at IISc. Deccan Herald is the media partner.
With each team comprising at least one waste-picker, the participants, in multiple groups, toured the IISc campus as well as waste-picker’s workplace and visited blackspots with towering garbage piles as part of the event, which is spread over four days.
On Saturday, the participants were asked to create innovative, inclusive solutions for hard-to-crack problems that waste-pickers face on a day-to-day basis.
Meanwhile, the waste-pickers raised as many as 65 problems in the hope that the hackathon would find some solutions.
Indhira Raja, who collects waste from door-to-door in Kalasipalyam, wanted an alternative mechanism instead of pushcarts. “I collect waste from at least 50 shops on a day-to-day basis. When the cart wheels are rusted, they are hardly changed and it becomes tough to use them.” Chandra Shekhar of JC Road had this to say: “It is tough to segregate and dispatch waste due to disposal of high volume of garbage daily”.
Manjamma, who works for a waste collection centre in Doddabommasandra, said: “I experience body pain while picking up waste and throwing it into the compost pit. I have to lift at least 10 baskets of waste which weighs about 14 kg each.”
Jaya from Hasiru Dala wanted gloves that are not loose, do not cause sweating and don’t cause skin irritation.
The hackathon, which will conclude on Sunday, has been designed to develop workable solutions to redress the grievances of these waste-pickers. Siddarth Jaya, an engineering student, and his team were on Saturday busy working on a mechanism that would make it easier for waste-pickers to work using pushcart.
Prajwal Venkatesh and his team were exploring ways to dispose mercury from old incandescent bulbs and also the long, slender tubelights.