Pet waste has been a neighbourhood nuisance; this has been frequently highlighted in Adyar Times. As residents looked for the government to bring out stricter policies for its management, the residents of Valmiki Nagar came up with a unique solution to tackle the issue – come together to bring in the change!
“It is all about responsible pet ownership!” explains Srini Raman, a resident of the locality and a proud owner of Cocoa, the beagle. On May 6, the residents came together to launch the pilot of ‘Pet Waste Disposal Initiative’, in collaboration with Urbaser Sumeet and Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC).
The Valmikinagar community noticed an increase in incidents where pet waste is left unattended, posing health risks and creating unhygienic conditions. “In response, the community is taking a proactive approach to address this problem,” points out Srini, who has been leading this initiative. Coming together of 50 other responsible pet owners catapulted its launch.
The pilot phase was decided to be implemented on 4th Seaward Road as it sees the most number of pet walkers. As a first step, ideas were sought from the residents of the locality. “From the feedback, the project team realised that many walkers didn’t pick their pet waste as there was no disposal system available nearby,” says Srini as he explains about the ideation process. After listing out all the concerns and finalisation of the idea, an awareness session was conducted wherein posters designed specifically for this initiative were shared along with the communication on the launch through the community social media platform.
A collaboration was simultaneously worked out by P.Jayanthi, with the GCC and Urbaser, and pet waste disposal bins were placed at regular intervals on the street. These red coloured bins are cleared twice a day by the Urbaser Sumeet conservancy staff. By fostering collaboration and cooperation, the Valmiki Nagar community has been able to demonstrate that addressing community concerns is possible with shared efforts and mutual support and community funding.
All the funding for the bins was through sponsorship of the residents. The community is very clear on the objective of the initiative: to create awareness among all pet owners about the importance of picking up after their pets and to provide the necessary infrastructure for convenient waste disposal as well. The children were also encouraged to participate in this effort, so they too learnt about responsible pet ownership.
Responsible pet owners will surely be using the bins, how about the others, I ask and Srini says, “The project team realised that the first step has to be awareness creation. We cannot expect immediate behaviour change in everyone. But over time, and by watching others demonstrating responsible pet ownership, we believe it would inspire others to follow. Changing habits in a community is always an evolution and it requires patience, persistence and a supportive environment.”
Post the success and learnings of the 4th Seaward Road pilot, the residents hope to implement the idea in other streets of the locality. Through the process of planning and implementing this pet waste collection initiative, the community is learning some valuable lessons about the power of collective action.
Taking proactive steps to tackle a growing concern can lead to sustainable improvements in communities. By engaging all stakeholders and fostering collaboration from the very start, the Valmikinagar community is not only addressing the issue of pet waste but has also built stronger bonds and a sense of pride in working towards a common goal.
Residents believe that this initiative will serve as a replication opportunity for other neighbourhoods facing similar challenges. By working together and taking responsibility for their immediate environment, communities can collaborate to create lasting change, fostering a cleaner, healthier place to live.
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