Tag: Environment

Celebrate Gently

Celebrate Gently

Last year, on the sixth day of Ganapati Mahotsav, a truck carrying an idol was proceeding towards immersion. The reveling children and adults were dancing to loud music and throwing gulal (red colour) on passers-by. As this writer overtook the truck in his car, some of the ecstatic celebrators tossed some colour, which landed on his windshield, blocking the view partially. Fortunately, it covered only the passenger side of the windshield. If the colour would’ve landed on the driver’s side, it could’ve led to a disaster on the road, risking the lives of pedestrians and of passengers in other vehicles.

Every year the twin cities of Thane and Mumbai celebrate Lord Ganesha’s birthday with vigour. Millions are spent on extravagant pandals, ornate idols complete with themes and contests marking the ten-day festival. Immersions too are grand affairs with devotees dancing all the way to tunes produced by a combination of large drums, banjo, keyboard and other musical instruments. With so much show of devotion, the Lord of Prosperity would be pleased with Mumbai devotees. So what if in the process of celebrating, the devotees cause irreversible damage to His creation? So what if they disturb the peace of their neighbourhood, cause traffic obstructions and create impediments for ordinary passers-by who are trying to reach home after a hard day’s work? These are trivialities that the Lord will obviously overlook. Or will He?

The world over, and especially in India, people spend a lot of energy in trying to please God by celebrating religious festivals lavishly. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong in celebrating per se, even celebrating lavishly. It is only when these celebrations take on a competitive nature, with everyone vying to please God that the problems begin. It does not require a high level of IQ to understand that you cannot bribe your way through to earn the blessings of the almighty, the Creator, the omnipotent. Bigger idols and brighter colours are often made from substances that pollute the environment and harm Mother Nature, which God created with such love.

Loud music creates noise pollution that has been found to be harmful to humans in the long run. And nothing, not even celebration of the Lord’s birthday, justifies the inconvenience that all this causes to millions of residents, both believers and non-believers.

It strikes one as ironical that devotees create impediments for others in the name of the very God who is known as the "Remover of Impediments." Such is the inconsideration displayed by some of the devotees of the Lord that they need Supreme Court rulings to prevent them from blasting music after 10 pm, so that senior citizens and those suffering from high BP can get sound sleep. Come to think of it, it must have been Lord Ganesha who, in the guise of the Supreme Court judges, gave the 10 pm ruling, in order to protect His other devotees – the ones who express their gratitude silently – while the noisy devotees indulge in reckless extravagance to earn brownie points.

Let’s take a pledge this year to be more considerate towards God’s creations – both Mother Nature and Her people. We can do so by acquiring only idols made of clay, keeping noise pollution in check, by immersing the idols at home in a bucket of water, and by celebrating Lord Ganesha’s birthday in the spirit of love for all humanity. Let’s pray for greater peace in the world and seek His blessings for a better world.

The variety of Life

The variety of Life

Biodiversity, or the variety of life that exists, is fundamental to the existence of life on Earth. The 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro defined biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”. Biodiversity is an extremely important part of life on Earth because it is not only the variety of living organisms on our planet that affect our ecosystem, but also the interdependence of all these living things, including humans. For example, some anthropological studies suggest that mosquitoes are so important to life on planet Earth that if all mosquitoes were to be destroyed, all life on Earth will become extinct in less than five years.

Biodiversity - The Variety of Life

In spite of this knowledge, humans have been the main cause of destruction of ecosystems even as animals and plants become extinct, and biodiversity is being lost due to anti-ecological activities of humans. Thankfully, there are a few among us who are conscious about the importance of maintaining and restoring the balance in biodiversity.

A big step towards creating awareness about the importance of biodiversity has been taken by the National Children’s Science Congress (CSC) by selecting “biodiversity” as its theme for the next two years. To kick off the CSC in Maharashtra, a seminar on biodiversity was organised by Jidnyasa Trust Thane on 18 and 19 March 2006 at the sports complex of Saraswati Vidyalaya in Thane. More than 125 CSC district coordinators and other resource persons from as many as 28 districts from all over Maharashtra attended the seminar. The seminar served as an orientation workshop for these individuals who would then take it forward to the next level.

Dr Madhav Gadgil, senior scientist and recipient of Padma Bhushan award, chaired the seminar. Dr Gadgil is a renowned ecologist having spent more than forty years in research. He has more than 200 research papers and six books to his credit. Jidnyasa felicitated him on the occasion. In his address, Dr Gadgil made a strong case for a systematic data collection on biodiversity at the ground level. He has developed software, which will be used to map the biodiversity of Maharashtra, which according to him is the “need of the hour”.

The seminar featured many other experts in the field of biodiversity such as Dr Vinaya Ghate, a scientist from Adharkar Institute Pune, Dr Madhukar Bachulkar renowned botanist from Kolhapur, Sandhya Edlabadkar from Chandrapur, Vivek Ponkshe from Pune, Dr Mangala Borkar from BN Bondodkar College of Science, Thane and Shraddha Shimpi from Pendharkar College, Dombivali. Principal of BN Bandodkar College Dr. Madhuri Pejawar and Dr Govind Paratkar from Vaze-Kelkar College were the conveners of the technical sessions. Seven sub-themes of biodiversity were discussed by these experts. These sub themes were terrestrial biodiversity, aquatic biodiversity, conservation of biodiversity, generating knowledge of biodiversity, manmade biodiversity, sustainable value addition, and simulations and models.

A book on “Medicinal forest Plants” and few CDs on environment made by Jidnyasa were released at the hands of the Dr PN Munde, Director Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali. Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Jidnyasa Trust provided information of various science programmes that the trust conducts all over Maharashtra. As many as 50-200 species of life are lost every day – that means we lose 20,000 to 70,000 species in a year. Considering that it takes between 2,000-1,00,000 generations for higher species to evolve, we humans have an urgent responsibility towards planet Earth and towards our future generations. And for that we need to shed our lackadaisical attitude towards the variety of life on our planet.

Height of Teaching

Height of Teaching

Madame Montessori, whose name is synonymous with child education, was a tall woman. No, I am not referring to her height, but her social stature. Born on August 31, 1870, Montessori became Italy’s first woman doctor. Initially, she took care of children’s physical ailments and diseases. Eventually, her curiosity led her to explore the minds of children and how they learn. By the early twentieth century, Dr Maria Montessori’s mission was to propagate radically different methods of teaching young children. “Help me do it myself” was her idea of teaching. In other words, she encouraged experiential learning – where children learn by observing, interacting, and experiencing, instead of relying on memory.

She went on to write several books on the subject and set up many institutes based on her philosophy, which was catching on throughout the world, including India. Today, a hundred years later, her teaching philosophy is as relevant as it was in her times.

A lady named Tarabai Modak, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, who started a Balwadi in the Sabarmati Ashram based on Montessori’s teaching philosophy, was also a pioneer of sorts in the area of child education. On, 31 August 2005, the 135th birth anniversary of Dr Maria Montessori, city-based Saraswati Vidya Mandir Trust’s Pre-primary section celebrated a Memorial Day in honour of the two great women. The school invited parents/grandparents of their Kindergarten students to participate in a two-day programme. About 400 adults learnt about the Montessori Method of teaching. Whether it was Maths, Science, Arts, or Music, the young children learn not in classroom or from books, but by experiencing and experimenting hands on. Parents discovered how their children understood the five senses (biology), shapes of toys and objects (geometry), reflection from mirrors (physics), and many other phenomena by being involved in them rather than grasping them conceptually. Such learning is not only more fun but is also more enduring than the bookish variety. Wonder why only children are taught this way, because such a wonderful method of teaching ought to be introduced even at senior levels of education.

When Montessori met Mahatma
Montessori met Mahatma Gandhi in the beginning of October, 1931 in London. And on October 28, 1931 Gandhiji spoke at the Montessori Training College, London where Montessori was also in attendance. His speech, published in Young India dated 19 November 1931, concluded thus: “You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have the struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.”

Moving towards God

Since 1998, city-based NGO Jidnyasa has been campaigning for eco-friendly Ganpati celebrations. Last year, even the Thane Municipal Corporation joined in by initiating moves to protect the city’s lakes. But Jidnyasa’s Youth Group is not resting. Their mission is to minimise public immersions of idols as they cause pollution. Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Jidnyasa, says, “There is scientific evidence that Ganpati idols, unless made of clay, are non-biodegradable. We, who are aware of the dangers of this trend, must spread the awareness before it’s too late. I think this is the proper use of science – out there in the social context and not inside laboratories.”

Moving closer to Lord Ganesha

Jidnyasa’s primary target is students, who not only influence their parents today, but are also decision-makers of tomorrow. On Sunday, about 300 students formed a human chain around the Masunda Lake with the objective of spreading the good word. And their campaign seems to be having a positive effect – already close to 1000 families from Thane have promised not to immerse idols. To encourage use of clay idols, Jidnyasa organises an annual competition for the “Most Eco-Friendly Decoration in Thane”.

It is said that Cleanliness is next to Godliness. If more and more residents vow to embrace the eco-friendly way, then Thane city is set to move several steps closer to Lord Ganesha. Because, there is no better way to please Him than to keep His creation, His environment free from toxic waste.

Fruits of Education

Fruits of Education

It is well-documented that students understand concepts and ideas better when hands-on involvement accompanies theory. Saraswati Mandir Trust’s Pre-primary section adopts this approach in their day-to-day teaching. Like last week, when they organised a "Vruksha Dindi", a procession of saplings.

The idea of the procession was to educate the pre-primary kids about how trees are planted, how they grow and also to make them appreciate the importance of trees in the ecology. The preparation began on July 18 when the students were asked to sow a seed, preferably mango seed, in their homes and water it daily. Then, on August 05, the students were asked to bring their seed-turned-sapling to school. The sapling-procession, which ensued, looked rather fascinating with students dressed in outfits with the theme of trees. So there were little girls and boys, aged around four or five,  turned up as trees, trunks, branches, fruits and even parrots, marching forward. There was a Vanadevi too (Goddess of the forest). Students were carrying placards with environment friendly messages such as "Trees are our friends" and "Plant more trees". The staff of the school sang songs praising trees. Later, the saplings were stored in a beautifully decorated space reserved for them. The saplings will be handed over to Thane-based environment-care NGO Hariyali, for further care.

The sapling-procession is akin to sowing a hundred seeds from which a whole forest of environment consciousness will grow, each tree bearing the sweetest fruits. Mother Nature will be pleased.

A Divine Course
Bhagavad Gita, literally translated as "the song of the Divine" is the most revered sacred scripture of the Hindu religion. Many believe that the wealth of spiritual wisdom contained in the Gita is the only antidote to the widespread human suffering, which is the result of a highly materialistic life focused only on accumulation. The "more" disease, as it is sometimes referred, causes us humans to fight with each other, with nature and with ourselves. Most of us seem to have forgotten that we are spiritual beings in human form. Perhaps only by becoming aware of our spiritual aspect, our true inner self, will each us be able to get hold of lasting contentment and peace of mind. Alas, the vicious circle of urban life does not allow us to explore the divine part of us, keeping us busy in accumulations and possessions.

Residents of Thane are now getting an opportunity of self-exploration via Gita lessons. Sri Ma Trust has organised a free certificate course in Bhagavad Gita for Thaneiets. The course was initiated on the auspicious occasion of Guru Pournima and is held every Sunday between 4.30 and 5.30 pm at Sri Ma Vanasthali located behind Municipal Commissioner’s Bungalow at near Hiranandani Estate. Already, about 25 parents of Sri Ma Bal Niketan students have registered for the course, which is open to all residents of Thane. Nirmal Jothi, principal of Sri Ma Bal Niketan conducts the sessions. A division for children’s development, christened Sri Ma Bal Seva Mandal (SMBSM) was also instituted on the same day. Among other activities, SMBSM too will conduct Essence of Gita courses for the benefit of inculcating the right spiritual values in children.

The wisdom of Gita distributed to a small group of people in Thane may not make the slightest difference to the sorry state of affairs of the world, but it does have a potential to alter the world of every individual in the group. The secret is to trust the wisdom of Lord Krishna much like Arjuna did.

Value in Waste

Value in Waste

Thane city generates 800 tons of waste everyday, of which about 150 tons is non-biodegradable. A non-biodegradable substance is unable to break down, and retains its form for an extended period of time. For example, when buried, some kinds of plastic can last without decomposition for 700 years. According to Robert Edwards, Toxics Campaigner in India for Greenpeace International, "Plastics are choking the life out of India. Over 50 per cent of all plastic produced in India is used for packaging. Most of this is discarded once used, and in a country where traditionally waste was largely unknown, this has caused a massive environmental problem". Although most non-biodegradable substances can be recycled, low levels of consumer awareness make it difficult to put this in practise.

A new programme unleashed by city NGOs aims to create better waste management in the city. Nicknamed "Waste is wealth", student-welfare group Jidnyasa and eco-NGO Vrukshavalli are collaborating with schools to improve the waste management competence of Thane’s residents. To start of, 12 private schools in and around Vartak Nagar and Wagle Estate have been engaged in the project. Large drums donated by the Rotary Club of North End, have been provided to the schools and the students have being asked to bring in non-biodegradable waste from their homes and neighbourhood and discard the same in these drums. Next, teachers of these schools will be trained to coordinate with rag pickers (known as human scavengers) who pick up plastic bottles, carry bags, pens, and all such waste material. The schools will buy this waste from the rag pickers and will then sell the it to scrap dealers, or in some cases, directly to recycling factories. In this way, not only will they reduce the burden of separation on TMC, but will also create value in doing so. In the process, students will learn that what they think of as waste and of no value, in fact does have value.

The programme, which began in the first week of February, will be soon extended to TMC schools and then larger schools around the city. "If all schools participate in the programme, then it might be possible to separate as much as 100 tons of non-biodegradable waste at the source itself," says Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Jidnyasa. Vasant Bagad, principal of Savitridevi Chirani Vidayala and Sandhya Dharde, a teacher from the same school, and Jayant Joshi from Jidnyasa’s Science Wing are the main coordinators of the project.

TMC’s campaign last year urging residents to separate the waste at source produced a lukewarm response. Therefore even today the most of the waste collected contains both degradable and non-degradable stuff, making it very difficult for TMC to dispose of the collection in the right manner. This project is targeting students, who are easier to convert and make good evangelists. Come summer vacations, and Jidnyasa plans to organised workshops for students to educate them in managing waste in a manner that is not harmful to the environment.    

The Lucknow incident a few years ago, when hundreds of cows died as a result of suffocation due to plastic bags, woke up authorities from a slumber, to take note of the hazard that improper disposal of plastics is creating. Before the problem assumes unmanageable proportions, let’s all consciously become better waste managers. Because, if we don’t, some day it will be our turn to be suffocated.

Eco Designs on Ganesha

Eco Designs on Ganesha

In Maharashtra, creative expression is at its peak during Ganpati festival. Such is the enthusiasm that surrounds the Big G’s arrival that year after year, devotees get transformed into artists as they decorate Ganpati’s ten-day habitat in the most beautiful and innovative manner with socially relevant themes. So we have had themes like modern medicine and AIDS awareness, evolution of humankind and the beginning of the Universe and evolution of religion. Pokhran Blasts, Kargil War, KBC, cricket match-fixing and 9/11 were prominently used themes due to their topicality. In the last few years, environment consciousness has also taken centre stage and many people are now putting together Ganesha’s dwelling out of eco-friendly stuff.

Let’s take the example of the Ganpati decoration at Prasad Birjee’s home at Ram Maruti Road, Thane. For two consecutive years, Birjee’s Ganpati decor won awards for the most eco-friendly Ganpati. Birjees have been celebrating Ganpati for the last 70 years, a tradition started by Prasad’s great grandfather.

The prize-winning decorations are put together by Prasad with the help of his family members, especially his mother and wife. Although an engineer by profession, 35-year-old Prasad is extremely creative when it comes to decorating the abode of Lord Ganesha. Prasad got started with this idea of innovative decoration in 1986 when he was made in-charge of decorating the pandal by his sports club Hanuman Vyayamshala, a 75-year old sports club that celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi with vigour. That year he made a miniature model of the Dadoji Kondeo Stadium, which was appreciated by everyone. It was then that he realised that he could be very creative when it came to decorating Ganesh pandals.
What’s impressive is that as a mark of respect for the environment, they stopped immersing their Ganpati idol 14 years ago, when they brought in an idol made out of fibre, and which they now install every year. "As a symbolic farewell, we immerse Beetle leaves and Supaari (Beetle nuts), which are equally revered according to tradition," says Prasad. Now, since the last four years, Prasad uses only paper for decorations. A couple of years ago, he made a banyan tree out of paper, complete with roots hanging out of its trunks. It won him the first prize in "the most eco-friendly Ganpati decoration contest" organised by the Jidnyasa Trust.

Last year, the family spent two full months making more than 200 Hibiscus paper flowers of different colours and six large flower pots, also made of paper. This year the theme is the significance Satyanarayan Puja in Hindu tradition. Lord Ganesha is sitting blissfully in the midst of Banana Trees acting like pillars. Once again, the five-feet-or-so tall banana trees and the big banana leaves have been made entirely out of paper. The rest of the stuff used in decoration is mostly made from items found at home. This makes the decoration not only eco-friendly but also low cost.  

There is no better way to please the Lord than to care for His creation and preserve this environment. Blessed are those who use Ganesh Chaturthi as an opportunity to celebrate the ecosystem we inhabit.

Envirovigil: A Green Organisation

Envirovigil: A Green Organisation

Thane-based Enviro-Vigil, also known in Marathi as Pariyavaran Dakshta Manch, is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the cause of environment protection. They have initiated various innovative projects since it was informally set up about five years ago, when a few good men from Thane decided to come together to do something about the increasing threat to our environment. Today, Enviro-vision (E-V) works in the areas of environmental education, water management, rain water harvesting, recycling, forest conservation, bio-medical waste, waste management, and organic farming.

"It all started in 1993, when I was conducted a few seminars on the traffic situation in Thane. I invited people to share their ideas to improve Thane traffic situation and received 170 suggestions in response," says Professor Vidyadhar Walawarkar, one of the trustees of E-V. Later in 1998, after the road-widening project took off, Walawarkar undertook an extensive survey to study the problems of heavy traffic congestion on the major city roads and heavy pollution thus created by these vehicles. This project not only studied the problems but also suggested definite, scientific, and concrete solutions to those problems. The project report revealed that in five years, from 1993 to 1998, the number of vehicles in Thane grew six times! With the help of Dr N T Joshi, a former member of the Pollution Control Board, Walawarkar compiled a book based on the findings of the survey which was presented to K P Bakshi, the then Commissioner of Thane Municipal Corporation. So impressed was Bakshi with E-V’s work that he suggested the NGO take up another, more difficult problem of dealing with bio-medical waste.

The nature of the waste generated in the hospitals and clinics is different than the waste generated in other establishments – it contains toxic and hazardous substances including pathological waste, disposable plastic items and metal sharps (injection needles, knives etc). Many of these substances and items are contaminated can pose serious threat if left unattended. Dr Vikar Hajirnis, current president of E-V, says, "Bio-medical waste has to be handled and disposed of scientifically, especially since the laws governing bio-medical waste management are rather stringent." Since no information was available on the quantum of such waste generated, E-V began by surveying the hospitals in Thane. Then, they trained hospital staff to segregate the waste into septic and aseptic, at source. Today, E-V manages bio-medical of more than 500 hospitals in Thane, Mira Road, Bhayander, Vasai and Virar. Special vehicles collect the waste, which is later shredded or incinerated according to its type. Special equipments, like a three-chamber incinerator, have been installed to treat the toxic bio-medical waste.

At any given time, E-V has a no. of ongoing projects. For instance, E-V is trying to save a human made forest situated on the outskirts of Thane city at Gavali Dev, behind the now shut NOCIL factory. The forest project which NOCIL and BAIF initiated by planting 150 lakh seedlings, had been abandoned after NOCIL’s closure. E-V has trained 2000 patients at Thane mental hospital to make paper bags which can used to replace plastic bags. E-V sells these bags to encourage the use of paper bags. The money earned is returned to the hospital either in cash or kind. E-V’s school of environment in Thane has 40 students, who learn all about the environment and how to conserve it. E-V encourages youngsters to take up "green careers" – those who love the environment can actually spend their time close to it and also earn money. E-V is also setting up "Institute of Waste Management" in New Mumbai which will begin courses in January and will be the first such institute to impart formal training in waste management. E-V also publishes Aaple Pariyavaran, a monthly Marathi magazine that creates awareness about environment. Every year during monsoons, E-V works actively to channel the rain water for effective use. Last year, rain water harvesting was carried out in 22 buildings in and around Vasant Vihar. This year, they are planning to channel water into 800 tube wells – a really large project.
E-V has many more projects in pipeline, all at various stages of development, and all with only one objective – to save the Earth from monsters such pollution, toxic waste et al. You may contact E-V on 25400012.

We are all environorganisms

We are all environorganisms

In his book, "Manifest your Destiny", bestselling author Dr Wayne Dyer, has a coined a new word: environorganism. Fondly called the father of motivation, Dyer believes that we are not organisms in an environment. We are environorganisms. What he means by this is that our environment and we are one. We cannot define ourselves in isolation from the environment. This implies that if we abuse our environment, we are actually abusing a part of ourselves. This was also the message that 34 city children, aged between four and 14 were trying to spread. Through street plays performed on June 05, 06 and 08, these children emphatically brought to the forefront the importance of "preserving and caring for our environment". Organised by a few socially conscious citizens from Vasant Vihar row houses and Panchvati Society, the street plays were held at four locations: Jambli Naka (near St. John the Baptist High School), Vasant Vihar (near Lok Puram School), Hiranandani Estate (near Hakone and Hirandandani Foundation School) and Garden Estate.

Alakta Kar, one of the key organisers appreciated the performances of the children, "They were wonderful, all of them, considering that some of them were briefed about their roles just a day before the plays were scheduled." To ensure a wider reach, the plays were scripted in Hindi and they covered various aspects of environment abuse – air, water, noise pollution as well as cutting of trees and blasting of hills to construct buildings. Kar was full of praise for Indu Chaturvedi, who wrote the scripts, and made sure that messages are delivered in a humorous manner. For instance, there was a scene where a building contractor instructs workers to "cut the trees". At the same time, two volunteers approach the workers, explain to them the consequences of cutting trees, and convince them to stay away. For noise pollution, she chose to show a political leader who has just won the elections and his supporters are shouting slogans and celebrating the victory with firecrackers. When the leader is asked why he is creating so much noise pollution, he replies, "Because I will be quite for the next five years."

Kar was also grateful to Mala Raj, another socially aware lady from Vasant Vihar, who coordinated the entire event and ensured that it was executed successfully. The response to the event was so good that the Lioness Club requested them to repeat plays for its members on June 08. More than 100 people attended this episode.

Such initiatives are certainly commendable. Yet, what is required is a sea in change in the individual attitude towards the environment. It is two weeks since we observed World Environment Day. And it is a good time to follow up to check if we are adhering to the resolutions we made or did we simply pay lip-service to it. The importance of caring for our environment cannot be emphasised enough. Do you know that Mumbai (and therefore Thane) is the second most polluted city in India? The measure of SMP (Suspended Particulate Matter) recorded in Mumbai is consistently found to be in the "alert" levels. This is largely a result of collective apathy and indifference towards our ecosystem. It is time we change our attitude towards environment pollution. Perhaps one way to do that is to view ourselves "environorganisms". Because, when we view ourselves, and the environment, as one, we will stop mistreating it and also prevent others from doing so.

Heal the World

Heal the World

05 June 2004 is World Environment Day. World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of United Nations Environment Programme. Accoirding to UNEP, you can celebrate world environment day in many ways: Street rallies, bicycles parades, green concerts, essay/poster competitions in schools, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean-up campaigns and much more.

In line with the UNEP agenda, 30 Class X students from various city schools are participating in a waste management project, initiated by the Jidnyasa Trust. The goal of the programme, which began on Monday and is likely to get over today, is to measure the awareness levels of waste management among the residents of Thane. As per the directive of the TMC, wet and dry garbage must be separated at source before disposing of with it. This helps in effective management and disposal of garbage.

The biodegradable waste or ‘wet’ garbage includes vegetable peels, coconut shells, even hair, nail clippings, used cotton and paper. The biodegradable or ‘dry’ waste includes plastics, metal, glass, battery cells, cloth, rubber, bulbs etc.

These students carried a brief questionnaire, visited homes in pre-selected housing societies and interviewed the inhabitants to collect vital information on how garbage is being disposed of by residents, whether they are aware of the importance of splitting wet and dry waste and if there are in special initiatives being taken by local communities. This information, once analysed, will help in finding out how the system of collection and disposal can be made more efficient and user-friendly. A report will be published and submitted to the TMC.  

A similar project on sewage water analysis is also under way by students from Thana College and Ruia collage. This is a youth group programme organised by Jidnyasa, to find out pollution levels of sewage channels and drains that run across the city. Samples of various drains will be collected for laboratory analysis to determine the chemical composition of the sewage and the levels of toxicity in the same. Once again, a report will be prepared and submitted to the TMC for further action.

In yet another environment project initiated by Jignyasa, conducted a few weeks back, a group of six students from Dnyansadhana College measured the air pollution levels at Majwada Signal junction. This was done under the supervision of Maharashtra Pollution Board. A project for underground water testing for portability is also under way.

But should we expect responsible behaviour only from NGOs? Love and respect for the environment in which we live is important for the survival of life on planet Earth. We have already begun to feel the effects of rising air and water pollution levels and if we don’t begin damage control initiatives soon – every single one of us – the future generations will never forgive us. Let us all take a simple pledge: that we will observe every single day of the year as World Environment Day. Let us collectively heal the word – and spread this message among all our relatives, friends and associates.

Message from UNEP
"On this World Environment Day, let us examine the state of our environment. Let us consider carefully the actions which each of us must take, and then address ourselves to our common task of preserving all life on earth in a mood of sober resolution and quiet confidence."

Humane Project

Humane Project

Money donation for good causes is a great thing to do. But donating blood to save precious lives is perhaps the noblest of all donations.

For those who are wary of blood donation for the fear of contracting undesirable diseases, please note that improvements to the blood collection process have made giving blood today safer than ever. In addition to the mini medical examination, which makes sure donors are healthy, a new needle is used for each blood donation, and once it is used, the needle is destroyed.

In fact, studies suggest that blood donation is a healthy practice as each donor passes through the mini medical test – there have been cases when high blood pressure among certain individuals has been discovered during the process of blood donation. Preliminary studies have also found that heart attacks and other cardiac problems were less common in men who had donated blood compared to men who had not.

Now that you are aware of the rewards that accompany blood donation, you may want to make your self available for this noble deed. Fortunately, the Rotaract Club of Thane East (RCTE) has pioneered a project called "Lifeline" – an enduring blood donation drive for the benefit of the poor and the needy. The RCTE has committed itself to help those in dire need of blood and cannot afford to pay massive sums that are needed to buy blood.

Manish Kotwani, member of RCTE says, "We have tied up with Pooja Blood Bank in Mulund, wherein we deposit the bottles on an ongoing basis and these bottles would be mobilized to help the poor & needy on a 24/7 basis. In this endeavor, we would be able to serve the community better if we are able to get help from responsible citizens."

So if you or any of your friends are interested in donating blood, please contact Manish Kotwani on 540 1004 or email thane-east@rotaract.org

Trunk Call
Kahlil Gibran, one of the greatest poet-philosophers humankind has seen, wrote "Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them and turn them into paper, so that we may record our emptiness".

Nature lovers in Thane would be happy to know that Thane Municipal Corporation has taken up a tree counting and surveying drive in Thane city. Along with M/s Environment and Biotechnology Foundation, the TMC has already surveyed eighty thousand trees over ten wards.

Commenced on March 15, 2001, this massive crusade aims to collect detailed information about the city’s trees so that they can protect endangered species, improve the quality of others and weed out degenerating ones.

The survey will collect information based on several interesting parameters. Class, species, genus etc. will provide botanical information. The survey will also determine the age of the tree using a scientific approach. In fact, this campaign has helped find trees that are as old as one hundred fifty years. Other parameters of information such as height, area of growth (forest, road, private property, lake etc.) and medicinal quality would also be recorded. Areas that have potential for tree plantation would be noted too. Students of Botany would benefit greatly from this kind of data.

But perhaps the most important information that this campaign would provide will be that of the optimum number of trees required for tackling the grand problem of pollution. The authorities plan to use this vital information to create and enforce laws on tree-destruction.

The project is expected to get over in June 2002.