It became a zero-garbage generating unit with every leftover resourcefully reused

Blog Friday, May 20, 2016 - 12:57

By Jayalakshmi K

Can the Karnataka Milk Federation be persuaded to use bottle containers? “It could be a bit costly, but milk packets are a major source of plastic contamination,” says Dr Tejaswini Ananthkumar, the lady behind Adamya Kitchen’s zero garbage effort and the Plate-bank initiative.

Launched in 2003, ‘Adamya Chetana’ (Invisible Spirit) Kitchen at Gavipuram in Bengaluru supplies mid-day meals to government schools in the city. Since 2015, it became a zero-garbage generating unit with every leftover resourcefully reused.

It’s also fossil fuel-free and uses biomass and solar energy for most of its needs. Around six and half tons of rice get steam-cooked by burning organic briquettes made from agricultural waste.

Beginning with a modest 54 schools and 10,000 children, Adamya Chetana now supplies lunch to 80,000 children in more than 300 schools. “Not once has a child fallen sick after consuming our food,” smiles Srilakshmi, who heads the kitchen and also volunteers in some of the group’s educational ventures.

There are four kitchens in all with the rest at Hubballi, Kalaburgi and Jodhpur. Though there is clamour for more, managing the show becomes difficult without enough volunteers who form its backbone. Housewives and ‘working’ people pitch in with various aspects of the administration.

Five schools have been adopted to make learning and teaching fun. Special coaching classes are held to bring both teachers and students on par with private schools. Awareness camps on environment, hygiene, health and low-cost health insurance too are held. “Adamya Chetana upholds the green cause in everything it does,” reiterates Tejaswini.  

The ‘Green Bengaluru 1:1’ initiative is to eventually have one tree per person. “Ideally, it should be seven trees per person. We now make do with one tree per seven persons,” she rues. The plan is to ensure one crore plantsin four years.

Greening the city

Every Sunday, a troop of volunteers set off from the ACF centre and plant around 100 saplings in selected areas and follow them up on a regular basis.  Water tankers are engaged to water the saplings.

“An app in our mobile phones allows us to mark the place where a sapling is planted. On follow-up if it’s missing, we make sure another is planted,” affirms Tejaswini.

Plate-bank

Adamya Chetana has a stock of around 7000 steel plates, spoons and glasses which can be borrowed by anyone free of cost. “We want to persuade people to use steel and reduce the throwaway junk. All we charge is for washing of the table-cloth,” shares Tejaswini, who did the same at her daughter’s wedding where guests totalled 15,000.

In just two years, the group has set up 165 gobar-gas units and toilets in two villages of north Karnataka as a result of which firewood consumption has stopped.

The parent group was started in the memory of Tejaswini’s mother-in-law Girija Shastry in 1996 to empower women. One of its popular schemes is the Rs 33,000 loan from sponsors to village women to buy cattle. The loan is repaid in 33 months with monthly installments of Rs 1000.

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