Sikkim’s Voyage wins in the waste management sector from NE

Gangtok, August 17: Pritam Pany, CEO and founder of Voyage on August 13 was announced as the winner of NERES 1.0 in the sector of Waste Management. The first of its kind, the North East Region Entrepreneurship and Start-up Summit (NERES 1.0) is under the sponsorship of the North Eastern Council (NEC) and in collaboration […] The post Sikkim’s Voyage wins in the waste management sector from NE appeared first on The Sikkim Chronicle - Sikkim News.

Sikkim’s Voyage wins in the waste management sector from NE

Gangtok, August 17: Pritam Pany, CEO and founder of Voyage on August 13 was announced as the winner of NERES 1.0 in the sector of Waste Management.

The first of its kind, the North East Region Entrepreneurship and Start-up Summit (NERES 1.0) is under the sponsorship of the North Eastern Council (NEC) and in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and Federation of Industry & Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER), is an entrepreneurship summit which aims at offering a platform to promising start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs across the North East Region (NER). 30 best business ideas were selected for a start-up grant of Rupees Five Lakhs each for investing and scaling their business.

Voyage is a waste management company that has been working in Sikkim since 2018 and is active in the sphere of recycling, zero waste, and sustainability, and the upliftment of landfill ragpickers under the aegis of achieving Zero Waste Himalaya, this enterprise has been working with the principles of a circular economy and dignity of labour.

Voyage provides more on the hardware solutions to waste management issues that are designed for the hilly terrains, with addition to focusing on software interventions that work towards driving a behavioural change amongst citizens

Out of the 695 applicants, 52 had applied in the waste management sector from the NER, Voyage is the sole winner in this sector for its futuristic vision towards a Zero Waste Himalaya from the entire NER. Along with Pany from Voyage, 5 other business owners from Sikkim have been selected for the seed grant.

The other five NERES 1.0 Grant awardees from Sikkim are- Abhinandan Dhakal of Shoten Group, Chimi Ongmu Bhutia of Lagstal, Manisha Sharma of Tag Along, Sonam Choden Bhutia of Norhla Corn Husk Flower, Pranay Kumar of Chakras Farm.

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Pritam Pany, CEO and founder of Voyage

Sikkim Chronicle spoke to Pritam Pany to learn more about the NERES 1.0 grant and what he plans to do with it. Pany described to us how proud he is to be the only winner from the waste management sector and that he feels strongly validated for his work and approach towards waste management.

Voyage doesn’t only deal with one sector of waste management like recycling, the business deals with a bunch of things related to the environment in a holistic approach, creating a larger impact than say focus only on recycling or one single aspect, which also set him apart from the 52 that had applied in the waste management sector for NERES 1.0, he says.

When asked about what he would put the Rs. 5 lakh grant towards, he says, “With this grant of Rs 5 lakh, we wish to holistically manage 700 tons of solid waste annually, thereby reducing the burden at 32 Number Landfill. So we are looking at purchasing land around 2000 sq feet where we can manage around 700 tons of waste annually, although impact-wise it is a bit low because Gangtok produces almost 70 tonnes of waste per day.

But being complete objective, the money is too less if I want to do the same thing across the NER, that is being done by Voyage in Sikkim’s 32 Mile, Singtam and Martam landfills, those are 500-800 crore projects, so in the grand scheme of things Rs. 5 lakhs isn’t much. But due to Voyage winning, we now have the recognition that we as a company won RS. 5 lakhs for waste management in Sikkim so it is a strong backing and is opening doors for us which is the biggest objective”.

Pany informed that Voyage is in talks with the Gangtok Municipal Corporation in starting a livelihood creation project for the benefit of rag pickers who operate at landfills as well as for Gangtok, for the environment and to create better awareness among the public regarding waste.

This isn’t the first time that Pany’s Voyage has worked towards benefiting the rag pickers at 32 Mile and Martam landfill which is waste dumping grounds. During the month of May 2020 when the state had gone into the nation-wide lockdown, Voyage raised funds to provide relief materials to rag pickers who did not qualify for the distribution of relief materials being done by the Centre Government.

The lockdown had caused an involuntary blow to rag pickers who extract potential value materials from waste bins, trucks, streets, waterways, and dumpsites. Many in Sikkim depend on waste for income generation, while also contributing to keeping the state clean, even though they aren’t affiliated with the Gangtok Municipal Commission.

Since their primary source for income is through the selling of trash at the Siliguri scrap market but due to the then lockdown imposing bans on intra-State movement, it had caused a significant blow to them, cutting off their source of income. Voyage, during this time, had executed multiple relief materials distribution drives for rag pickers with the funds raised with materials and rations like rice, pulses, vegetables, oil, protein, salt, soap.

The essential commodities kit has been donated to more than 50 rag pickers at 32 Mile, Singtam. Voyage raised Rs 1,10,000 via crowdfunding and supported the villagers whose primary source of income is through rag-picking at 32 Mile, Singtam for around three months.

Just a few weeks before the sudden rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, Voyage along with Takste International School was arranging weekly cleanups at Green zones declared by the Government, leading by example that the grind never stops.

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