A group of students from the Indian School of Mines (ISM) in Dhanbad have launched a sanitation start-up, a first to come from the deemed university, that will help residents deal with their garbage solutions at a nominal cost. The launch came just a day after Dhanbad was declared to be at the last position (73rd) in the sanitation survey conducted by the Central government.
A brain-child of Saurabh Suman, who is now in his final year of mechanical engineering at ISM, and his friends, the sanitation start-up, called ToWaSo (or Total Waste Solutions) aims at collecting waste from door-to-door and then using it make biogas, using the degradable waste. The non-degradable waste would be sent to recycling agencies.
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“Currently, we will be catering to 300 households in Jai Prakash Nagar area of the city, as part of the pilot project. The households have been given separate bins for waste segregation at home. We have also put user charges, which is a nominal Rs 60 per month. Further, we have given two models for the users – they can have a biogas plant installed individually or a big one for their institutions. This would lead to optimum utilisation of what was once just a ‘reject’ for them,” said Suman.
The design of the individual “biogas plant” would be such that the users can have it installed even on their rooftops. For the non-biodegradable waste, the start-up has produced compactors that would transport it to the recycling agencies, which, in turn, send them to Kolkata for further processing.
Ravi Kiran JP, a final year student of environmental engineering and a member of the group, said: “We chose Jai Prakash Nagar because it is closer to the city centre. The news of our presence will spread easily. In fact, we have at least one more colony approaching us for our services.” The company has also got in association with a builder to promote the start-up.
Prof S K Paul, head of the Centre for Incubation, Innovation and Enterprise (CIIE), ISM, which was set up only last year, said: “The basic help we have provided them is in terms of space and basic office facilities like computers and printers. Also, at the CIIE, they had a place where they could hold meetings and brainstorm after the regular classes.”
Importantly, however, it was the loan of Rs 6 lakh from the government’s scheme for the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that the CIIE helped in procuring for the start-up. “In fact, we have at least one more project that is in the pipeline and is likely to be approved by the Centre. Then, we can get funding from a bank,” said Prof Paul. He added that the CIIE was started only one year ago.
Dhanbad Mayor Chandra Shekhar Agarwal, who was at the inauguration of the start-up on Tuesday, said: “We have promised all support to this particular start-up. In fact, I had held a meeting with the ISM authorities and experts nearly three months ago and urged them to work with us on the issue of environment and sanitation. We wanted to use their technical expertise. As far as this initiative is concerned, we are prepared to give them material and manpower, as and when they wish. All of them would work under their guidance, as per need.”
Agarwal said that Dhanbad’s dubious distinction of 73rd rank was indeed a challenge. “But you also need to put things in perspective. We get only Rs 7 crore in annual revenue. The Municipal Corporation itself is only five years old. How can you compare them to winners, who have at least Rs 500 crores in revenue and are more than 50 years old.”
The results of the Swachh Sarvekshan-2016 were announced on Monday, in which 73 cities with 10 lakh population or more were evaluated on various bench-marks regarding urban sanitation and cleanliness. While Dhanbad stood at the last position – 73rd, Jharkhand’s other industrial city, Jamshedpur, stood at 66th position. Jharkhand Capital city Ranchi was at 62nd position.