BERHAMPUR: Several social organisations and civic bodies in many parts of the State organise cloth donation camps for the poor and the needy round the year. But Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BeMC) has taken a step beyond this usual.
Through its Bastra Upahar Kendra near the Biju Pattnaik Kalyan Mandap in Berhampur, it has been providing used clothes to the poor and homeless for free after giving them a brand new look. The Bastra Upahar Kendra with a tagline ‘Thile Dia, Nathile Nia’, was started by the civic body on October 1 last year.
BeMC Commissioner Siddeshwar Baliram Bondar says the centre was opened with the twin objective of helping the poor and the needy to meet their basic need of clothing and preventing used and discarded clothes from entering the landfill.
The facility houses four units - a collection and sorting centre, laundry, stitching/ironing/packaging unit besides, a showroom where the clothes according to different sizes and types are exhibited neatly for the needy to choose from. The showroom has been fashioned just like the ones in malls and markets. While there are separate corners from men, women and children, the showroom also has changing rooms where people can wear the clothes and check the size and fit before taking a pick.
The civic body has engaged four members of an SHG ‘Tri Shakti’ under Mission Shakti to run the kendra and they are being paid an incentive of `5,000 a month. “People come in everyday to donate clothes here. Of the clothes that we get, most are torn and dirty. We clean them in the washing machines installed here and iron them. The clothes are then sorted according to sizes and kept in racks at the showroom. We have clothes for people of all age groups here,”says Sanjukta, one of the SHG members.
According to BeMC, since inception of the kendra, 350 people have donated used clothes and 360 needy people from 42 wards of the city have collected them. As many as 20,663 clothes have been donated and 2,500 collected by people. The rest are being given away by the civic body in camps to people in slums and migrant labourers from other districts and states who arrive in the city for livelihood, informed City Manager N Arun, in-charge of the centre.
The success of the project has prompted the civic body to plan similar centres across the city. “We are planning to open two more such centres in the next few months and the number will be increased subsequently,” the Commissioner said. Besides, BeMC is now planning to seek donations of used school bags, shoes and books for children from poor socio-economic backgrounds and run a BOV van to collect clothes from donors of all 42 wards in the city.