How this Social Entrepreneur is Pioneering a Green Revolution

Founder of Geetanjali Envirotech, Raaginii Jaain was disturbed by the amount of waste generated in India and its poor management

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How many times have you stopped at the traffic signal, stared at the garbage dump in an open field and wondered about the problems it creates. But then, the signal turns green and you are off on your way, dumping the worries too at the site. Social Entrepreneur RAAGINII JAAIN wasn’t one of those to sit back down.

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Founder of Geetanjali Envirotech, Raaginii Jaain was disturbed by the amount of waste generated in India and its poor management. In the late 90s’, Jaain started working in the area of waste management. In 1998, she met Almitra H. Patel, an Indian environmental policy advocate and anti-pollution activist, and it was then that her journey actually started. She is the first and still the only woman in India to bio-remediate dumpsites and who is able to clear these dumpsites. “I started working in the waste management sector officially from 2000, with my company Geetanjali Envirotech. As a social entrepreneur, I started India’s first decentralized plastic recycling centre and then decentralised composting,” said Jaain.

Waste management in India has long been a disputed topic with questions often being raised about the efficiency of the government or the social responsibility of corporations who are often to be blamed for the mass accumulation of garbage. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, out of the total solid waste generated in the country, only 70% is collected and only 12% is actually treated.

“Management of solid and liquid wastes are one of the biggest problems that our country faces today. I have developed a process for dealing with waste dumps that is proprietary and patented. We have already bio-remediated about 75 lakh metric tons of garbage. The microbes developed by us which work on the garbage, are economical and work faster. We have worked on dumpsites that were as high as a 10-storey building and have now been reduced to two meters within three months. By the end of the process, you will never realize that you are standing in the middle of garbage, there are no flies and no smell,” she said. Screening this stabilized waste will clear old sites for permanent scientific processing. Jaain is hoping to get the contract to work on the Okhla dumping site in the capital city.

Geetanjali Envirotech has also worked on treating leachate, the foul liquid that oozes from airless dumps. In Bengaluru, they treated the leachate filling a half dozen quarry ponds polluted by dumping of untreated mixed waste in unlined quarry pits and cleaned them in six months.

With the expanse of work Jaain has done in the field, she is a national expert. “I work for waste and sewage management from Leh Ladakh to the Siachen Glacier. I’m currently working on the Shri Amarnathji yatra route. I have also built plastic roads in three states,” she said.

Jaain is trying to find a way to merge the government and private players. “We need to train urban local bodies and stakeholders to work with new age techniques. With the government partnering with companies like ours, we can lower down costs easily,” said Jaain.

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan too has helped her; however, she believes that they have a long way to go. “Through the Swachh Bharat initiative we have been able to do good work and create awareness over the last few years and that’s been the benefit of the mission,” she said. Jaain targets to reach more than 2000 cities and make then free of dumpsites with cooperation from the Swachh Bharat Mission.

(This article was first published in the August issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)