Kozhikode: A young man who collects waste that even ragpickers refuse to collect, processing about 50 tons of waste in a month providing employment to around 120 persons? Unbelievable, but true! Meet Jabir Karat, a youth hailing from Adivaram near Thamarassery, who has been at war against waste for the last several years. A few years ago, he started ‘Green Worms’, a collective which helps people to sort out waste while conducting events.
Later his mission attracted many and even religious groups and political parties started seeking his assistance in conducting programmes. Now Green Worms is an agency that caters to five village panchayats, two municipalities and various agencies under the Kozhikode Corporation in processing waste converting it into wealth. Jabir and his team segregate waste into 53 categories. The total income of Green Worms is around Rs 20 lakh per month and at times the expenses go above the income, putting the team in a fix.
"We segregate even paper into a dozen categories like white, brown, tissue, coloured and so on", said Jabir. "The panchayats pay us a small amount for each sack and our profit is the material we get after segregation", he said, adding that at times the segregation, processing costs go up. The initiative is in charge of the entire waste processing of four village panchayats Karulayi, Chaliyar (Malappuram), Chemanchery and Olavanna (Kozhikode), apart from extending assistance and consultancy to Cheruvathur and Vidyanagar panchayats in Kasargode, Feroke Municipality, and Puramery and Kuttiady in Kozhikode.
The initiative also helps traders units in Kunnamangalam and parts of Kozhikode Corporation in processing the waste generated. "But everything is for a fee", said Jabir who is confident that he would be able to process the waste of a panchayat if they were ready to pay `5 lakh per year. "Our profit is only the segregated material for which we have legal industry clients who can process and reuse them", he added.
But he feels that he can do wonders if better supported by local bodies. "We have 1,10,000 houses and 50,000 registered shops in the Kozhikode corporation limits", he said, adding that he handles only around 1 percent of it. "I hope one day we will be able to process all the waste thus providing jobs for thousands", he added. A post-graduate in history from Delhi University, Jabir worked as a ragpicker in Coimbatore to have a real feel of the ground. He also got a scholarship of the Gandhi Foundation on waste management.