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.

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