Tricity’s Eco-warriors – Our Green Conscience Keepers

Chandigarh proudly boasts her ‘The City Beautiful’ title and much deserving it is due to its astute urban planning and being specially blessed with serenity of nature all over. Over the period of time, like every city, maintaining a balance between environmental conservation and development is tricky. Thanks to eco-crusaders in tricity who have acted as a green conscience keepers in bringing the citizenry snd the administration back to roots – respect nature.

On World Environment Day, ChandigarhX express gratitude to the selfless service of green warriors.

Paveela Bali – A Green Earth

Paveela Bali

The most recognisable face of ‘Green and Clean Chandigarh’ – Paveela Bali. Sporting her The Run Club’s signature red t-shirt, Paveela can be easily spotted with her group of volunteers from all age groups and walks of life on cleanliness drives in the neighbourhood and outskirts of the city beautiful. A strong proponent of ‘Clear Your Own Mess’, she is gradually instilling the valuable lesson that the responsibility of keeping your surrounding clean is first YOUR own and then the administration’s. With a working independent compost plant and waste pits in her backyard, she focuses on zero waste and using it for making compost.

We swell in pride boasting the greenery in Chandigarh, but very rarely, we find anyone stepping up to question and raise voice if even a single tree covered with electricity wires or is chopped down. Who has the time? Well, her NGO The Run Club’s plea in November 2019 stalled the much touted Tribune Flyover project as it meant axing hundreds of trees. “I am not against progress. But, nature should not become a casualty for it. What worried me more was the fact that necessary clearances were not obtained, and yet they planned to uproot some trees in winter and axe the remaining ones,” says Paveela.

In her mission to make Chandigarh plastic free, she is promoting an alternative to single-use plastic together with empowering the underprivileged women. She has collaborated with them to stitch cloth bags, the proceeds of which provides them steady income source and also support sincere sportspersons.

I don’t think Chandigarh residents are doing enough for the cause of their environment. They need to be sensitised about administrative policies and become an activist in their own way.” With her own actions, she has become a role model that you don’t need to be a full-time environmentalist to voice and act for nature. She herself is a fitness enthusiast and an entrepreneur with her own Art and Design Studio where she majorly recycle waste into amazing artwork. “Start with your own home and neighbourhood; inculcate right values and knowledge in children about waste management and civic responsibility. Even your saying ‘no’ to plastic straws given by coconut vendors can make a huge difference.”

Jyoti Arora – Vatama Solutions

Jyoti Arora

A humble garbage collector – who could have thought that anyone be inspired by a person dealing much tabooed subject – waste? Well, this superwoman not only took inspiration from him for waste management but is working strenuously to remove the taboo and bring ‘waste management’ and ‘sustainability’ in daily household conversation with her Vatama Solutions.

Jyoti Arora took upon herself the task to concentrate on approximately 60% of daily waste which comes from kitchen and is compostable. She started with compost pit in her backyard but her search for long-term solution took her to Bangalore-based firm, Daily Dump, which makes composters for homes and communities to convert all the organic waste into compost in a hassle free way. And in 2017, Vatama came into existence to provide an effective solution for waste management which was affordable, doable and environmentally friendly. It upskills people to make compost at home with the composters they provide. “Our team member will go to the new site and start that composters, install it. We visit weekly to check if everything is fine and we help people in their first harvest hence in a way we had hold people whose starts composting.” explained Jyoti.

Vatama proudly and rightly calls compost the ‘black gold’.

Commending Chandigarh administration’s support under Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, she said ‘waste management’ became a drawing room discussion topic. “A lot of people specially bulk waste generators such as hotels and hospitals take care of their waste only because it is mandatory by law. There will be a great change if people understand the consequence of the throwing waste and take care of the waste because of sustainability and passion“, she opines.

Through her blogs, seminars in educational institutions, she has been educating people and children about the indispensability of reduce, reuse and recycle all types of waste, right from household to industrial waste.

Unless we say it is our waste and we will take care of it, the problem will not go away. We need to become more aware when we shop about the ways we are creating more and more waste and then do our bit by composting our kitchen waste and garden waste at source.”, she adds.

Mohit Gupta, Tapasya Sharma and Ajay Joshi – Save Ghaggar

The co-founders of the initiative are Mohit Gupta, Tapasya Sharma and Ajay Joshi who knew each other only through social media. A long halt in traffic jam on the bridge over river Ghaggar in Panchkula and Ajay Joshi saw people carelessly swinging waste plastic bags, bottles down into the humble river. Tapasaya Sharma was shaken to see the similar visuals. Mohit Gupta, sector 7 Panchkula resident stood strong for covid patients and families during pandemic. He along with Ajay and Tapasaya, came together with a local auto driver Arjun’s help and took upon themselves to clean the river.

With the mission to revive the glory of slowly dying river Ghaggar in Panchkula, ‘Save Ghaggar’ has become a major force standing against turning the river into a dumpyard.

More and more people poured in to volunteer in cleaning the river. “The problem is the attitude of the residents of Ghaggar river…the river is taken for granted and residents throw in all waste of their homes into the river from the two bridges and also directly into the river from various places on the bank of the river. It is further compounded by huge Pooja Samagri which included many plastic bags, and toxic coloured sindoor powder.”, laments Ajay.

The volunteers wade into the river and physically forking and dragging plastic bags and other wastes stuck. “We also encountered patches on the river where the bottom is not of mud but a layer of plastic”, adds Ajay.

The ‘Save Ghaggar‘ has ambassadors as young as 7-year old who zealously work to clean the river.

“We wish people and especially children and youth to realise that there are other living beings and creatures (species) which live and survive in the river and are also a part of the ecosystem. It’s just not humans who are alone on this planet. We must respect nature to survive.”

Let’s give these real-life eco-crusaders their long time due thanks and gratitude. Help them in doing our bit in redeveloping the earth. Our nature has provided us with all the necessary resources, but we have degraded, overused and overexploited it all. If we don’t save it today, they will be no tomorrow. Think before we leap because the way we are dissipating the resources there will be no ground for us to fall.