Tiruchy’s ‘Wall of Happiness’ working for cement factories?

From the corporation’s composting unit in Ariyamangalam, the clothes would be sent off to the cement factories for use in their furnaces
Stack of donated clothes getting loaded by workers on auto rickshaws
Stack of donated clothes getting loaded by workers on auto rickshaws Photo | Jose K Joseph

TIRUCHY: Clothes deposited by the public at the Tiruchy corporation’s lone Wall of Happiness (WoH) may not actually be completely used by the needy as doubts have emerged that they are instead being bundled off to cement factories where they are used to keep their furnaces burning. This, despite the facility set up in front of the civic body’s K Abishekapuram zonal office.

TNIE recently found a few men, who identified themselves as working under the corporation’s supervision, bundling up clothes collected at the Wall of Happiness shelves, into a load vehicle. When enquired, they said that the clothes were being sent off to the corporation’s composting unit in Ariyamangalam. From there, they would be sent off to the cement factories for use in their furnaces, they added.

When enquired, the ground-level staff concerned, who manage the city’s solid waste management, claimed that the donated clothes sent off to cement factories are those that are damaged beyond use. “Many residents donate old clothes to the facility. Since we receive a huge quantity, we have to keep them bundled up due to lack of space.

These bundled up clothes would get damaged within two or three months. Therefore, we discard them, as they cannot be used by the needy. That’s why we send off such damaged clothes to cement factories. They would use it to fuel their furnaces,” an official said. It is unclear how long the practice has been in existence and whether the donated clothes are sold off to the factories.

P Paramasivam, a resident who regularly donates clothes, supported the claims of misuse. “I have seen workers transporting the clothes bundled up at the facility. I also enquired them over it once but they didn’t provide any response. If they are sending away so much clothes for burning, why must residents donate in the first place? We can ourselves burn old clothes at our residences. The corporation should instead share the supply with orphanages or other charitable organisations in other districts,” he argued.

Rajalakshmi S, another resident, said, “Currently, there is only one WoH facility in Tiruchy. If such a facility is set up at more areas, the clothes reaching the [K Abishekapuram] facility can be shifted other such units. It will benefit several poor people.”

With several officials directly involved in the matter avoiding comment on the issue, doubts are also cast on the corporation’s ‘Refuse, Recycle, Reuse’ (RRR) initiative which it introduced last year.

In the campaign, residents are encouraged to donate recyclable materials, including clothes, to the RRR bins kept at the corporation’s micro-compost centres. The clothes collected at such facilities are claimed to be used for making cloth bags or other recycled products.

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