They use your trash to light up the north east- the new indian express dynamic electricity examples

Let’s face it — we have all felt relieved after taking the trash out. Wrapping it in that black bag and keeping it outside our houses somehow makes us feel at ease. But how often do we notice if we may have thrown e-waste out? Bengaluru-based social entrepreneur Rajiv Rathod would never have missed it though as he makes the rounds in his Maruti Alto, collecting e-trash every morning from Bengaluru’s roads.

But why does he do it? Did he have a brilliant plan to recycle it or does he know the most amazing kabbadiwala? You’d never have guessed, but this waste is helping Rathod light up villages in the remotest corners of North East India. And that’s exactly what The Batti Project stands for.

While the project has been around since 2011, it’s only since August 2015 that Rathod and his team have been collecting e-waste, selling it to authorised waste management companies and using the money to buy relevant resources for their mission to bring electricity to people in the North East. "As the months passed by, we got more and more people calling us to collect the e-waste. They would collect it in bulk and call us when they had enough," Rathod says. The team even upscales the e-waste by converting the trash into little artistic showpieces and make money out of it.

An avid traveller, Rathod got the idea of lighting up homes during one of his treks in Arunachal Pradesh, way back in 2010. That’s when he got to know that there was a village there that is accessible only after a seven-day walk from the last accessible road. Needless to say, Rathod had to see the village. "I had to find out how people survived in the region without communicating with the world," he says.

So, he along with his friend Merwyn Coutinho, who later became the project director at The Batti Project, decided to walk that distance. After days of trekking, the duo reached Gandhigram, one of the remotest villages in the country, to find that everybody there lived their lives in sheer darkness. They spent quite a number of days there and while returning, they had their Swades moment. "The villagers grew really close to us. They treated us like one of their own and they made us promise that we will visit them soon. We said yes and returned but took a vow that we have to do something for them," he recalls.

True to their promise, Rathod and Merwyn returned to the village in December for Christmas in 2011. "It was Christmas and Merwyn suggested that we should not go empty-handed to meet our hosts. So, we decided to buy 100 solar lamps for the houses. That’s as many as we could carry," Rathod smiles. "We distributed the solar lamps as soon as we reached and it helped at least half the houses in the village," he adds.

The company recycles e-waste to generate electricity The e-waste is sold at reasonable prices They conduct physical surveys in villages to verify beneficiaries They work in collaboration with benefitted communities to distribute kits They conduct fundraising to achieve targets

Including an online campaign, he tried a lot of ways to generate money. And that’s how without too much planning The Batti Project was born in 2011. However, miles away, in Bengaluru, an auto ride changed his life in 2015. "An auto driver heard me talk to someone on the phone about The Batti Project. He told me that he couldn’t give me money but he could drop me wherever I wanted to go for free," Rathod narrates. "That’s when it hit me that one doesn’t really need to donate money to help. People just need to give something that is available to them easily. And what is easier to give than the waste we produce every day?" Rathod recalls.

And that’s how the early morning collection drives began, "It looks minimal when you think of it as waste from one house but when it is in tonnes, it fetches quite a good amount," Rathod says. The Batti project has so far lit about 300 houses in the North East. "The count is on," he adds happily.