Gurugram Youth suggests Admin to partner with Citizens to save Aravalli
Inner Wheels to speed up Waste Management in Delhi
Organization Led by Ladies taking up the issue with a serious note
The most encouraging part of this webinar was the announcement by Chairman, Mrs. Ruchika Gupta to all the clubs in District 301 to take up waste management on priority. She declared that all the 76 clubs under District 301 have to present a project report on waste management on World Environment Day 2021. Dr. Ruby Makhija has agreed to help and support these clubs. With so many clubs with such devoted and focused ladies working, Delhi’s waste management program surely is expected to pick up pace.
Gurugram Students campaigning to protect Aravalli
15.03.2021, Gurugram: A group of concerned school and college students conducted a two hour awareness drive by talking to people one on one as part of their outreach for the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Campaign at Cyber Hub in Gurgaon on 14th March. The aim was to create awareness regarding the pressing issue of legalising of mining in the Aravallis and the implication of doing this for our air, water, wildlife and health & wellbeing of millions of citizens living in India’s National Capital Region.
"To highlight the mining issue which is haunting our future, five of us students went to Cyber Hub to create some awareness among Gurgaon citizens. We were shocked to find out that more than half of the people we spoke to were unaware of the fact that Haryana has the lowest forest cover in India", said Tarushi Agrawal, a class 12th school student.
In the first week of March this year, the Haryana government has appealed to the Supreme Court to restart mining in the Aravallis. Supreme Court had banned mining in the Aravallis these last few years. Uptil now, mining was going on illegally in Haryana. Legalising mining threatens the mere existence of these historic and environmentally vital hill ranges. A group of concerned citizens and students from the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement went to the Haryana Bhavan in Delhi on 3rd March to submit a petition letter addressed to the Chief Minister stating their objections against this move. The hearing in the Supreme Court on this matter has been postponed twice in the last 2 weeks.
“Our petition letter to the Chief Minister of Haryana states the citizens’ demand not to legalise mining in the Aravallis and increase Haryana’s forest cover to 20% from the measly 3.6% it is currently,” said Nayan, a final year college student.
Aravalli Bachao Citizen Movement has been running an email campaign with a petition to the Supreme Court for over a week now. More than 400 concerned citizens from Gurgaon, Faridabad, Delhi and across India have sent emails addressed to the Chief Justice of India on the Supreme Court official email id expressing their objections to this move to restart mining by the Haryana government.
“If the government gets the approval it is seeking, it could result in the complete destruction of NCR’s critical groundwater recharge zone, green lungs, shield against desertification, climate regulator, biodiversity hotspot and wildlife habitat. Life of millions of people and wildlife living in the Aravallis is at stake,” said Ayana Chaudhary a 13 year old student campaigner.
The Thar desert is drifting towards South Haryana and the National Capital Region through 12 identified gaps in the Aravallis. "We will choke in the dust storms coming from the Thar if we allow mining in the Aravallis as this will be the final death knell for our highly degraded Aravalli forests in Haryana. Illegal mining has already wiped out 31 Aravalli hills in Rajasthan," said Veer, a 17 year old school student.
The students associated with this citizens movement (Students 4 Aravallis) have been rigorously outreaching to the public both through social media as well as doing on ground awareness and demonstrations for raising an alarm regarding these vital issues.
“Aravallis just occupy 2% of the land area in Haryana and need to be left alone for life
in NCR cities to sustain. The earth has already warmed by 2 degrees as of 2020. Our generation will be the most affected by global warming and climate change. Aravallis are the shield protecting us from the brunt of the climate impacts. Our government is accountable to us and cannot sell away our future,” said Aliya, another student campaigner.
Gurugrammers object legalizing mining in Aravallis
Citizens protest Haryana's proposed WTE plant in the Aravallis
24.01.2021, Gurugram: The huge mountain of trash on the Gurgaon - Faridabad road, now higher than the surrounding Aravalli hills witnessed the loud cries of ‘Remove this Polluting Landfill from our Aravalli Forest’ and ‘We do not want a Toxic Waste to Energy Plant in our Aravallis’ by more than 60 adults and 30 children who had gathered at the Bandhwari landfill from the cities of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Delhi as well as the surrounding villages of Manger and Bandhwari on Sunday, 24th January 2021.
“The theme of our campaign is Green vs Black. The adults have come dressed in green attire to show that our generation has been blessed to enjoy the beauty of nature whereas the children are all wearing black to signify the dark future that they will be inheriting as a result of the upcoming waste to energy plant which will be the final death knell for the toxic air we breathe all year long”, said Anu PD from the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement which organised this citizens protest. Members from Citizens For Clean Air participated in the protest as well.
The landfill site reverberated with slogans such as ‘If Waste Is Burnt Here, We Will Not Be Able To Breathe’, ‘Enforce Solid Waste Management Rule’”, ‘Burning Mixed Waste Is Not A Solution’. A few children did a street play on the hazardous impacts of single use plastic and asked people to use cloth bags. The Aravalli Bachao team members sang a catchy Hindi song asking the Haryana Chief Minister to stop his government’s ecocidal plan to pollute NCR’s last remaining green lungs & critical water recharge zone with poisonous emissions and ash that the waste to energy plant will generate.
“Ever since this landfill came here 10 years ago, it has completely poisoned our groundwater. 50 to 60 people have died of cancer in our village and many are still suffering from this disease and other health issues. A waste to energy plant will only make matters worse,” said Dhir Singh, a resident of Bandhwari village.
“Dioxins and Furans, generated by WTE plants are amongst the most toxic substances known to man. Inhaling these can lead to respiratory disorders, cardio-vascular diseases and lung cancer,” said Dr. Sarika Verma, an ENT doctor from Gurgaon. Ash created by burning waste in WTE plants is also extremely toxic and when it is dumped in the open, it contaminates the soil, air, surrounding water bodies and groundwater as well.
The Swachh Bharat Guide by the Ministry of Urban Development puts waste to energy and landfilling at the bottom of the hierarchy and emphasises on Reduction, Recycling and Composting. If the hierarchy is followed, only 10-20% of a city’s non-recyclable and non- compostable waste should go to a WTE and/or landfill. “An approved 15 MW WTE plant at Bandhwari and proposed WTE to generate 25 MW is clearly designed to process much more waste than 10-20% of Gurgaon and Faridabad’s total waste, which means that the government is not following its own guidelines and the focus is to burn more that 50% of both the cities’ waste in the WTE, which as per SWM rules should be recovered through recycling and composting”, said Neelam Ahluwalia from the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement.
Waste incineration is a completely failed model in India. More than 60% of the Indian waste is food waste which has high moisture content. “Calorific value of mixed waste in Indian cities including Gurgaon and Faridabad is too low to be burnt efficiently. Many WTE plants across India have closed down for this reason and the fact that they sell electricity at double the rate of electricity from solar and coal and thus prove to be financially unviable ,” said Zenith Choudhary, an Aravalli Bachao campaigner. The few WTEs that are operating in Delhi and other cities are majorly flouting environment norms, polluting the air badly and causing ill health to people.
“We are living in the most polluted region in the world. The smog is so bad that most children and teenagers suffer from breathing difficulties & allergies of all kinds. The state of Haryana has the lowest forest cover in India, just 3.6%. Why is our government hell bent on destroying our few remaining forests and ensuring that we walk around with oxygen cylinders and drink poisonous water,” said Aanya Jain, a student member of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement.
This stretch of the Aravalli forest between Bandhwari and Damdama is very rich in wildlife acting as a corridor between Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary in Delhi and Sariska in Rajasthan. The Wildlife Institute of India has confirmed the presence of leopards, hyenas, jackals, nilgais, porcupines, palm civets and many birds around the landfill. “The government needs to declare this entire stretch from Asola to Sariska as a wildlife sanctuary, not make polluting waste to energy plants in our Aravallis,” said Jyoti Raghawan, an Aravalli Bachao campaigner.
Toxic landfills and waste to energy plants are not the solution to our waste problems.
“Composting, biogas & bio-methanisation of food and horticulture waste and recycling of dry and electronic waste will help in reducing the waste sent to the landfill by 80 to 90%. Only 10 to 20% reject waste that cannot be composted and recycled needs to be sent to a waste processing site which must be scientifically designed and away from our Aravalli forest and other eco sensitive zones and away from our cities and villages in some barren land that poses no harm to the people and environment around, even if it means incurring additional cost for transportation of waste. Strict fines and penalties must be imposed on individuals and bulk waste generators not adhering to solid waste management rules to stop the 2000 tonnes of mixed waste coming from Gurgaon and Faridabad to Bandhwari landfill every day,” said Gaurav Sarup, an Aravalli Bachao campaigner.
As per 2019 data, Forest coverage of Gurugram district shrunk maximum among all Haryana districts, as compared to 2017. This has mooted rural and urban citizens of the National Capital Region to join hands and protect the Aravallis from further degradation, for the future of their children. The government needs to look into it seriously before making any further public investments in the project drawing locals' ire.
Does Avian Influenza affect humans?
Tata Steel converts a municipal solid waste dump into a picnic area at Jamshedpur
Community leaders discuss critical aspects of Land & Forest conservation and Rights in Tata Steel Samvaad
24.11.2020, New Delhi: Samvaad, a one-of-its kind pan-India tribal conclave organised by Tata Steel Foundation, recently concluded bringing together tribal communities from across the world virtually. More than 3,000 people of 114 tribes from 23 states of India, 5 Union Territories and 17 countries including Sri Lanka, South Africa, Nepal, Kenya, Philippines, Thailand and Tanzania among others participated in the programme.
Designed to facilitate an exchange of traditional and emerging conservation practices, the third day of the seventh edition of Samvaad saw a melange of conversations on digital platforms. Most critical amongst these was the discussion aimed at deepening an understanding of the constitutional laws for conservation of Land and Forest Rights. Several experts from the field came together to discuss ways in which the tribal communities have been using the natural resources optimally and presenting exemplary models of co-existence.
In another session, Indian and international healers, including Dr Bhushan Patwardhan, Professor G. Hariramamurthi, Dr. Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana and Dr. Sarin N S, came together to discuss ways to take tribal healing practices to a larger audience and creating a balance between modern and traditional medicinal practices.
At the Action Research Collective, researchers and academicians came together to various issues related to land and water. Padma Shri Simon Oraon, popularly known as the Waterman of Jharkhand, shared his experience of conservation of resources. Himanshu Kulkarni, Executive Director and Secretary, Advance Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM), Pune, shared about how one should look at action research keeping in mind data, research along with having an on ground connect.
As a part of film screening at Samuday ke Saath, Mr Chentai Khiamniungan’s “Strength in Diversity”, audience got an opportunity to interact with the filmmaker after the screening. His discussion on the film based on the agricultural practices of Nagaland gave deep insights into traditional agricultural practices and how knowledge has been passed to the younger generations. As many as 120 school students also joined the session and interacted with the panelists.
In another impressive show, artists from Changpa tribe from Ladakh performed the Jabdo dance, the Bhutia tribe from Sikkim expressed their appreciation towards nature by singing and dancing to the Tashi Shabdro Song. Rathwas from Gujarat, Malavettuvans from Kerala and Kinnauris from Himachal performed auspicious dances of their festivals and the Oraon tribe from West Bengal heralded rainfall through the Asari Ropa Angnai Dance. The evening also witnessed a blend of alt-folk-rock by the Featherheads band that attempted to inspire and resurrect the dying culture and traditions of Tangkhul Nagas, once followed by their ancestors.
At the artisans’ masterclass, Dinabandhu Soren and Renuka Bodra from Ho tribe, Odisha connected with us digitally to impart the basics of Gond and Saura paintings.
The Samvaad ecosystem has brought together more than 30,000 people from 117 tribes across 27 states of India and 18 countries in the last 6 years. The concept of regional Samvaad was initiated in 2016 with the objective of reaching out to more tribal communities in the hinterland and factor unheard voices therein.
National Water Award to Water Warrior Uma Shankar Pandey of Jakhni, Jal Gram fame
17.11.2020, New Delhi: Convener, Jalgram and Sarvodaya Activist, Uma Shankar Pandey has been awarded with the most coveted Water Warrior Award in the 2nd National Water Awards, 2019 ceremony organized by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. Pandey has been instrumental in converting water stress Jakhni village in Mahua Block of Banda district in Bundelkhand to the first “Jal Gram” (water village) of India. The work has been recognised as one of the most successful community based participatory water management.
In the virtual award ceremony was chaired by the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu; on 11th November 2020, Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat presented a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 Lakh and a citation to Uma Shankar Pandey.
On this eve Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Rattan Lal Kataria; Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, U.P. Singh; DG NMCG, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, and other officials were also present on the occasion.
Pandey says he was inspired by a clarion call of the Former President Late Abdul Kalam to create Water Villages. They adopted a policy “Farm water in the farm, Village water in the village”. As soon as the first rain came, the fields were filled. Then the water moved towards the ponds. One after another, all the 6 ponds in the village got filled. Side by side, 30 wells of the village also became alive with increased water level. Pandey says they developed and raised the mounds between two fields on about 2470 bighas of land. A slogan 'khet par med, med par ped' (ridge on the farm, tree on the ridge) got very popular. Planting trees in the village has a significant role in the water cycle. As a result of water storage in the fields, the groundwater level increased and subsequently there was an increase in agriculture and farming. He says, today, water level has now increased up to 10 – 15 feet and wells don’t run dry even in the months of May and June.
Tamil Nadu was the top state in overall water conservation efforts, whereas Maharashtra adjudged the second-best, and Rajasthan settled for third position. In the same category, Mizoram received a special award.
SILENT BUT NOT QUIET: Protest by young citizens of Gurugram to save the Aravalli
25.09.2020, Gurugram: Aravallis are one of the oldest fold mountains in the world. The people of the National Capital Region have the honor of being surrounded by the lush Aravalli forest that grants them protection from pollution, desertification and offers them water security by recharging ground-water.
The Bandhwari landfill is an illegal encroachment on 30 plus acres of Aravalli land in the middle of eco sensitive Aravalli forest. This dumpyard now receives 2000 tonnes of unsegregated waste from Gurgaon and Faridabad everyday. The leachate spill from the pile of 30 lakh tons of waste is contaminating the groundwater and putting wildlife and nearby human-settlements in serious danger. The biodiversity in this region is particularly vulnerable as the stretch of Aravalli Forest between Bandhwari and Damdama acts as a wildlife corridor between Asola Bhatti Sanctuary in Delhi and Sariska in Rajasthan. The government's solution to the garbage problem is all set to compound it further. A proposal to set up a Waste-To-Energy Plant next to the landfill has been approved. The WTE will not only deplete the already dwindling forest but also intensify air and water pollution in the region.
As part of the GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE on 25th of September 2020, a group of young urban and rural citizens of Gurugram participated in a silent protest against the proposed WTE plant. Aged from 7 years to 22 years, the youngsters visited the Bandhwari landfill site to voice their concerns regarding this regressive plan. Calling it a "Waste of Energy" instead of "Waste To Energy", the children said that since Bandhwari and all other landfills across the country receive unsegregated waste, it is of very low calorific value which renders it almost useless to be converted into energy. This is the reason why WTE model has consistently failed in our country. They also spoke about the noise, air and water pollution that would be caused by the plant and consequent dangers it would pose to humans as well as wildlife.
“Bandhwari Landfill is fast competing with Ghazipur landfill to become the biggest garbage mountain of North India. The monstrous pile of garbage contains a highly toxic mix of plastic, metal, glass, sanitary and biomedical waste,” stated Garvit, a 18 year old college student.
According to the February 2020 report of the Central Pollution Control Board, the RDF produced at Bandhwari was found to have high moisture content (when derived from fresh waste) and ash, leachate and mud content (when derived from legacy waste), making it unfit for incineration in the WTE plant.
"The Environmental Clearance for the WTE plant was obtained on the basis of a faulty Environmental Impact Assessment Report submitted by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram to the Ministry of Environment. In the report, the mention of an ongoing litigation was conveniently omitted. No mention was made of groundwater contamination or of a 2017 report by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) confirming the presence of pollutants such as manganese, boron, chloride and nitrate. In the absence of canal water, the people of Bandhwari continue to depend on groundwater for drinking, cooking and washing. In light of all this information, it is very clear that the MoEFCC was not given the real picture and hence the Environmental Clearance granted for the WTE plant be cancelled." demanded 16 year old Anushka.
Already reeling under the threat of a pandemic which has been proven to be related to loss of forest cover and biodiversity, the children urged the government to scrap the WTE Plant proposal and also asked for the removal of the massive landfill from the forest and restoration of the green cover.
“The landfill site being so close to Mangar Bani, which is the last remaining patch of Aravalli Native Forest, and being situated in the middle of a wildlife corridor poses a grave threat to the wildlife. Confirmed presence of Leopards, Hyenas, Jackals, Palm Civets, Porcupines makes it imperative to protect this stretch of land by removing the landfill." reiterated Ayana Chaudhary, a 13 year old Gurugram school student..
“We demand strict enforcement of Solid Waste Management Rules by the Municipal Corporations of Gurugram and Faridabad and replication of the Indore Model to tackle the existing legacy waste. Segregation at source and decentralized composting would prevent 80% of the waste from reaching the landfill,” said Jai Nakra, a 17 year old.
Haryana, with a meagre 3.62% forest cover and the tag of having 6 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world cannot afford to lose anymore forest land OR have another pollution causing unit.
Meenakshi Lekhi lauds Navjiwan RWA's women empowerment & Plastic-free initiatives
10.09.2020, New Delhi: Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, New Delhi congratulated Navjiwan RWA on completion of one year of free distribution of biodegradable Sanitary pads and bags to over 150 lesser privileged women and girl children. Lauding the initiative she said this is not only an environment friendly movement but also a huge encouragement and empowerment for these women.
Addressing the gathering she remarked Navjiwan RWA's working should be certified as 5-Star RWA, and said all other RWAs should learn from here. She expressed great satisfaction over the arrangement considering the social distancing factors, sanitization and everyone present with appropriate precautionary measures such as face masks.
Dr. Ruby Makhija, General Secretary, Navjiwan RWA has announced that the program has been renewed for another year. On the eve, Mrs. Lekhi distributed the first month supply on 9th September 2020.
Mr. Bipin Garg, President, Rotary Club South East and Mr. Samrat Yadav, Secretary, Rotary Club South East were present on the event as Rotary Club South East is supporting the coming year's supply.
Last year, Mrs. Meenakshi Lekhi launched in the programme and distributed biodegradable Sanitary pads and bags to 200 economically weaker women and girl children. On the event, she described plastic pollution lucidly before the gathering, she elaborated that 15 – 20 years ago, the use of plastic was not so bad. Within these last 2 decades, plastic has become over-utilized. Plastic does not degrade even up to 600 years. Due to the wrath of plastic pollution soil microbes and bacteria cannot degrade the plastic, which leads to worsening soil fertility. She further explained that plastic is imported from China, which strengthens its economy and weakens India’s environment and health.
It is noteworthy that according to a report the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI) has approximated that there are 336 million menstruating women in India, of which 36 percent use disposable sanitary napkins — that total to 121 million women. The number of sanitary napkins used per menstrual cycle — at a conservative eight-plus that for the year, implies that India has 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to take care of every year, the majority of which are not biodegradable nor compostable.
Talk of Tree Man in the Monsoon
Unlike China, India being another populous country has a very less tree population. As per last studies India has 28 trees per person as compared to China’s 102 trees per person. However, according to an Indian Institute of Science (IISc) 2014 report, the ideal tree-human ratio should be seven trees for every person, and India has more than that. Nevertheless, greenery attracts human, naturally. The monsoon brings natural greenery throughout. Tree plantation is a very common nationwide feature during monsoon. Environmentalist Vishnu Lamba, known as the Tree Man of India, says every day is Environment Day. In a press release by Shri Kalpataru Sansthan, it is communicated that the campaign led by Lamba has connected millions of youth from 22 states of the country. For the first time since independence, he toured 22 states of the country and sought the families of more than 56 revolutionaries and gave the message of environment across the country by performing works such as the birth of martyrs and planting saplings at sacrificial sites.
Inspired by the film 'Paan Singh Tomar', the interesting personality, Vishnu Lamba raided the ravines of Chambal, stretching from Chambal to Chitrakoot, for nearly two years and linked the former infamous dacoits with his campaign. As a first time in the world, many previously infamous dacoits including Malkhan Singh, Gabbar Singh, Renu Yadav, Seema Parihar, Mohar Singh, Jagdish Singh, Pancham Singh, Saru Singh, Pahlwan Singh, Balwanta took oath to protect environment in a ceremony of held in Jaipur on 20th March 2016. This act has a wider significance and should be spread throughout the nation. It is often stated that jail inmates do a lot of plantation. But the negatively inflicted persons present inside the society also needs similar responsibility, which may be instrumental to bring them back in mainstream social lifestyle.
Do’s and Don’ts and Precautions at the time of Disaster
Disaster, both natural and man made, creates chaos and panic. It is important to maintain calm and focus on life saving. The following steps could be helpful:
1. Do not panic, evacuate calmly and quickly perpendicular to wind direction through the designated escape route
2. Keep a wet handkerchief or piece of cloth/ sari on face during evacuation
3. Keep the sick, elderly, weak, handicapped and other people who are unable to evacuate inside house and close all the doors and windows tightly.
4. Do not consume the uncovered food/ water etc open to the air, drink only from bottle.
5. Change into fresh clothing after reaching safe place/ shelter, and wish hands properly.
6. Inform Fire & Emergency Services, Police and medical services from safe location by calling 101, 100 and 108 respectively.
7. Listen to PA (Public Address) System of the plant/ factory, local radio/ TV channels for advice from district administration/fire/health/police and other concerned authorities.
8. Provide correct and accurate information to government official.
9. Inform others on occurrence of event at public gathering places (like school, shopping centre, theatre etc.).
10. Don’t pay attention to the rumours and don’t spread them.
11. Do not smoke, lit fire or spark in the identified hazardous area.
12. Sensitize the community living near the industrial units and they should be more vigilant about the nature of industrial units and associated risks.
13. Keep the contact numbers of nearest hazardous industry, fire station, police station, control room, health services and district control room, for emergency use.
14. Avoid housing near the industries producing or processing the hazardous chemicals, if possible.
15. Participate in all the capacity building programmes organized by the government/ voluntary organizations / industrial units.
16. Take part in preparing disaster management plan for the community and identify safe shelter along with safe and easy access routes.
17. Prepare a family disaster management plan and explain it to all the family members.
18. Make the family/ neighbours aware of the basic characteristics of various poisonous/ hazardous chemicals and the first aid required to treat them.
19. Adequate number of personal protective equipments needs to be made available, to deal with emergency situation.
20. Prepare an emergency kit of items and essentials in the house, including medicines, documents and valuables.