The major fire at the Deonar dumping ground in Mumbai, which caused serious health issues for residents of the city, has raised the important issue of mismanagement of garbage. Keeping this in view the Bombay High Court, on February 29, 2016, stayed new constructions in the city, till the state government and municipal authorities complied with all the solid waste management regulations. While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been issuing notices to societies and individuals for five years, nothing concrete seems to have happened.
Disturbed by the authorities attitude and deteriorating environmental condition of the society. Pradeep Tripathi started Green Yatra in 2009, as a project that focussed on the goal of ‘zero waste’. Tripathi, the director of Green Yatra, planned to achieve this goal in housing societies, by encouraging landscaped gardens, installation of systematic waste composting units, solar water heaters and panels, rainwater harvesting systems, greenhouse rooms and other green technologies.
Reduce, reuse, recycle and realise
The project has been inspired by the ‘pro-poor and sustainable solid waste management’ programme of the United Nations Organisation (UNO), which is aimed at helping cities in Asia to effectively manage their waste in an environmentally sustainable manner. Through its various projects, Green Yatra encourages citizens to adopt the policy of reduce, reuse, recycle and realise, in their daily lives, to reduce the garbage that goes to the dumping grounds.
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“We are involved in mobilising local communities, through our high-pitched campaigns, such as ‘Go GREEN Kids’, ‘Zaroorat – A Need’, ‘Green Youth’, ‘Green India’, ‘Plant a Tree, Plant a New Life… We will do it for You’, ‘Go Green Ganesha’, etc. All these projects focus on making the city green,” elaborates Tripathi.
Through its projects, Green Yatra encourages participation from individuals, educational and non-educational institutions, social groups, communities, NGOs, social entrepreneurs and corporate houses. The NGO even conducted a comprehensive waste audit and management programme, across McDonald’s restaurants in Mumbai and its suburbs. They adopted a scientific method of storing, collecting, segregating, transporting and disposing of solid waste residuals, to achieve zero carbon emission and minimal or zero landfill.
Old stuff, new gift
Tripathi is now working on the concept of “Our old stuff can be someone’s new gift”. The main goal of this programme is to encourage people to donate any kind of old household items in good condition, such as clothes, books, toys, stationery, computers, electronic appliances or utensils, rather than just throwing them in dustbins or giving it to scrap dealers, he explains. “They (people) should give these products to those who need them, so that most of the goods are utilised and nothing goes to the dumping grounds,” he maintains.
Green Yatra is also actively promoting planting of trees, through the CSR route, and an initiative where people can plant, gift, donate and adopt trees online. Till date, the volunteers of the NGO have planted more than 16,000 plants, with a 95% survival rate. Merely planting a sapling is not enough. We have to nurture it to become a tree and keep watch on it for the next five to ten years, points out Tripathi.
“We are working towards nullifying the imbalance caused by us, our society and our people and to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem for the benefit of all living creatures, by introducing and adopting simple eco-friendly ideas in our daily lives. We firmly believe that every small effort by individuals on a daily basis, can make a big difference to the environment,” he concludes.