BETWEEN YOU AND ME A friend wrote in recently when I mailed him in a moment of despondence. It was a terse mail. He consoled me gently with recall of Anicius Boethius, the Roman thinker of about Buddha’s times. Boethius wrote of how nothing is permanent, fortune included, barring the essence of thought. He said, only inspiration shall remain.
“So why only some few individuals in the minority would, be as deeply concerned about these dire threats and want to do something about it?” There was simply no feedback. No one wrote back. The odd friend would occasionally say something encouraging, and I translated it to be simple politeness.
Over 27 years of plodding through market offerings that are ahead of their times, we have often been asked if it makes sense at all to continue to defy the basic MBA course’s tenet of offering only “what the market wants”. And we have only offered a weak smile, not knowing how to explain why we do what we do at BCIL. Crossover is none such endeavor from the Zed stable, as the group is now known in the marketplace. It is a publication that has sought to capture the very best of such distilled concerns of the planet, of the environment. It is easy to be drowned by the many voices of skepticism, and of unhealthy dissent. A young architect recently chatted as up, “So why would only some few individuals in the minority, be as deeply concerned about these dire threats and want to do something about it?” We asked her to reflect on it. She said, “Well, is it the rumble in your own hungry guts?” Yes, it is. You do it because you know it is an imperative. Even if, to those who don’t even know what education is, many of these little and big concerns simply don’t make any sense at all. So who is Crossover meant for? Well, if you’re reading this now, there is some deep chord that it is touching in you. So it’s for anyone who resonates with our larger concerns on the environment and public good. It is most often an impulse. You are not expected to do anything about it. Worse, you often don’t know what you can do about it, and with a helpless shrug, even if it is disagreeable, you accept it and get on with life. So you settle for less. Some don’t. They do something about it. They seek the joy of responsible buying. Or like Sekhar who’s featured in this edition, they do more. Crossover as a publication in print (seems quaint today in a world that is so e-‐infused!) went out to about 10,000 readers. That was in 2002. With no editorial help, and with only our persistence for resource, we ran it for over 7 years as a monthly publication-‐writing the features, editing them, formatting the magazine, working out the slugs, the straps, the blurbs, the caption-‐stories, captions and the headlines. There was hardly anyone to help. There was simply no feedback. No one wrote back. The odd friend would occasionally say something encouraging. His eyes betrayed usually, simple politeness. Until one day last year, five years after I had put the magazine to a decent death, Sharukh Mistry, the legendary Indian architect, caught up with me for some friendly banter at a friend’s place on Nepean Sea Road in Bombay. He said, “Wonder what happened to Crossover? I don’t get it these days.” So I told him what had happened. He looked surprised, and pained. “Do you know? Some of those editions that I got then continue to make for bedside reading for me.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I realized at once the burden of all good artists. They are rarely told of people’s appreciation of their work. It’s not that people don’t value it; it is just that they don’t bring themselves to make the effort to speak, write and say it. So Crossover is back. Resurrected from the dead. Well, for those who have the education for it. From those of us here who have the conviction that these stories need to be told. As in those years of the last decade, crossover will continue to explore not the grim side of all that is bad for the environment, but the positive side of what the world can do about it. Of what you and I can do about it. Festive greetings and happy reading.
INDIA ALIVE [COVER STORY]
Disaster on the Ganga: Is anybody listening? When the blasting for the tunnels were going on, many hundreds of villagers had petitioned the District Magistrate on how through many nights their house.
All along the Alakananda there are protests against the kind of relief works that are being dished out. The govt has given, says another sanghatan worker today, there’s 16,000 cr given so far for relief workers. There's a scramble among middlemen to see what money can me made. Here's another report from Chamoli district. Past Gopeshwar, along the way to Guptkashi more such sad reports are emerging. Villages, houses and lands in the entire Uttarakhand region have sunk after the June disaster. But it has left all the major development companies unmoved. It is business as usual for them. The state and central governments and the construction companies are getting on, regardless, with the Vishnugad-‐Peepalkoti dam project for 400MW to be harnessed on the Alaknanda river. The construction of the tunnel to the power house of the dam has affected Harsari, a village in the dam-‐site area. There are cracks in the houses, water sources have dried up. Crop failure has been reported for the first time ever. People’s protests against putting up the dam fall on deaf ears. This has gone on for ten years. The construction companies and the government have been conniving to ‘trap’ the vocal opponents in the villages in fake cases. At Gopeshwar, outside of the District Magistrate office affected people have sat on Dharna in the last month after the disaster. A local politician and minister in the state government listened to them, and ordered the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police to withdraw the false cases. The cases continue to be active. Says one of the activists in Pipalkoti, “We have regularly informed the District Magistrate of Chamoli of our problems, but, no one pays attention. World Bank officials from Delhi regularly have visited us. Their story was the same: that we have to accept the dam if we need any of our problems to be addressed. The dam is the problem, is not something they want to understand.” Another affected villager says, “We have decided that there is no point in fighting these people in the government or at the World Bank. We are now only asking that our compensations be paid at least. And that a guarantee is offered in writing to all the villages that any damage coming out of the dams will be borne by them for a lifetime.” Taking advantage of people moving away from their villages with persistent crops failutre. The construction company which is also a government-‐owned corporation, has quietly, and illegally, changed the alignment of the tunnel to have it pass beneath the lands. After getting it done, they got an order from the District Judge for constructing a ‘new tunnel’! When the blasting for the tunnels were going on, many hundreds of villagers had petitioned the District Magistrate on how through many nights their houses shook and trembled under the impact of the blasting. Again to no avail. “We kept on waiting for help from the DM. We have informed the officers by phone that there are continuous explosions from 11pm to 2am during the night. We have not slept many nights out of fear,” wails another lady from the village. With persistent rains, landslides are a regular occurrence. Houses have collapsed. The Revenue Department and the Dam company THDC take months to ‘investigate’. The compensation doled out is so small that we have had to borrow to build. Should we wait for other houses to collapse? [Tags : Health, City Scape, Urban Ecology, Agriculture]
Gujarat pushes through a N Plant
People of Mithi Virdi didn't even know that a plant was coming up, until activists told them. In 2007, Gujarat signed a deal for setting up a 6000 MW Nuclear Power plant in Mithi Virdi, a densely vegetated and beautiful part of Bhavnagar district. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India was the partner. It a Westinghouse technology from the US that NPC is planning to go for. The plant site is a few km away from the Alang Shipbreaking Yard. There are 5 villages—Jaspara, Mithi Virdi, Mandva, Khadarpar and Sosiya—that are affected by the plant. These villages stand to lose nearly 800 hectares or 2,000 acres of fertile lands. The Westinghouse AP1000 is an untested reactor technology. USNRC had raised several technical doubts about the reactors, which were given a nod to by only the non-‐technical committee members of the NRC in that country. Of the cluster of 5 villages that are blessed with fertile lands, three—Mithi Virdi, Jaspara and Sosiya are along the coastline. Most of the land proposed to be acquired falls under Jaspara. There are in all 152 villages in a 30-‐km radius of the nuclear power plant, if it is put up. The rich alluvial soil here supports crops like Groundnut, wheat, bajra, cotton, and fruits like mangoes (Sosiya mangoes are famous across India and are also exported), chickoos, coconut, and other such lucrative crops that have ensured high income levels for the entire region. This area also grows and supplies vegetables—onion, brinjal, gourd, tomatoes, drumsticks. The agriculture department has found the climate and soil suitable for cashew nuts, too. People of the area were blissfully unaware of the proposed nuclear project when Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (a voluntary organisation) activists visited Mithi Virdi area the first time in 2008. They had no idea of the impending threat to their land, livelihood and the environmental and health hazards of nuclear energy. No agency of the government had even communicated to the villagers for all of five years! Since 2007 the Bhavnagar Jilla Gram Bachao Samiti, Anu Urja Abhyas Juth, Gujarat Anu-‐ urja Mukti Andolan and Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti have conducted awareness programmes. As a result, the villagers with the support of number of organisations in Gujarat and across India started agitation against the proposed 6000 MW Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant. On Manmohan Singh’s agenda on his US visit in the last week of September this year, was a meeting between Westinghouse and NPC to finalise the deal for the Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant. Not a report has appeared on this. The sign-‐up must have happened beyond the glare of media lights. People of these five villages organized a massive 40 km rally from Mithi Virdi to Bhavnagar with thousands gathering at Bhavnagar to register their protest. No reports appeared of this rally. To have some idea of the ongoing struggle on the Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant check out FACEBOOK PAGE -‐ https://www.facebook.com/GujaratAnuUrjaMuktiAndolan EPH VIDEO -‐ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny4uiz1njHI VILLAGE VIDEO -‐ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q4lhm0Y4XA
[Tags : Agriculture, Energy, Equity]
N Power is just 10 pc in the world!
Women pose during a protest against nuclear power at Jaspara-Mithi Virdi village, some 260 km from Ahmedabad, opposing a proposed 6,000 MW nuclear power plant. The plant would have a devastating impact on the people and environment of the region, according to a joint statement by Indian American organizations South Asians for Justice-Los Angeles, Alliance for South Asians Taking Action and Friends of South Asia. (Getty Images)
… and nearly 70 pc of all the world’s N Power plants are in just 3 nations—India, China and Russia! Two years after the Fukushima disaster, its impact on the global nuclear industry has become increasingly visible. Global electricity generation from nuclear plants dropped by a historic 7 per cent in 2012, adding to the record drop of 4 per cent in 2011. This is according to World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 (WNISR) which provides a global overview of the history, the current status and the trends of nuclear power programs worldwide. This report looks at nuclear reactor units in operation and under construction and provides 40 pages of detailed country-‐ by-‐country information. The 2013 edition also includes an update on nuclear economics as well as an overview of the status, on-‐site and off-‐site, of the challenges triggered by the Fukushima disaster. However, this report’s emphasis on recent post-‐Fukushima developments should not obscure an important fact. The world nuclear industry already had faced daunting challenges long before Fukushima, just as the U.S. nuclear power industry had largely collapsed after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The nuclear promoters’ invention that a global nuclear renaissance was flourishing until the Japan disaster is equally false. Fukushima only added to the already grave problems, starting with poor economics of such power generation. Let us look at what the report has to say about operations. There are 31 countries operating nuclear power plants in the world. A total of 427 reactors have a combined installed capacity of 364,000 MW. These figures assume the final shutdown of the ten reactors at Fukushima-‐Daiichi and -‐Daini. In Japan, as of June 2013, only two of the 44 remaining Japanese reactors are operating and their future is highly uncertain. In fact, many observers believe that a large share of the suspended Japanese units will likely never restart. Nuclear power share in world power generation has declined steadily from a historic peak of 17 per cent in 1993 to about 10 per cent in 2012. Nuclear power’s share of global commercial primary energy production plunged to 4.5 percent, a level last seen in 1984. The report also points out that two-‐thirds (44) of the units under construction are located in three countries: China, India and Russia. The Government of India is aggressively pursuing its nuclear programmes in spite of people from Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), Gorakhpur (Haryana), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) and Haripur (West Bengal) waging relentless war against these unsafe nuclear power projects promoted by the Nuclear Power Corporation. Peaceful people protests in each of these areas have mostly been met with callousness and brutal repression by governments.
Communities near existing nuclear facilities in Tarapur, Rawatbhata, Kalpakkam, Kaiga, Kakrapar and Hyderabad have also been raising voices against radiation leaks and their harmful effects. Often these are hushed up by the authorities. Existing and proposed new uranium mines in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya have also met with massive protests. [Tags : Energy, Technology, Health]
A Bhangi? You can’t stay in my mohalla! The Sanitation bill was passed in September. Nothing changes across the fabric of India. Here is the gruesome story of one old man. He was a retired school teacher at 64. He lived on 1 kidney and a dialysis that had to be done twice every week. He was a Bhangi. Tulsibhai Jadhav Berdiya lived in a small town, Tal Palitana in Bhavnagar district. He was brutally attacked with an attempt to murder by his neighbours. Five of them took on the frail old man. All of them were ‘upper caste’ Rajputs. What was the provocation? That his was the only family of Bhangis staying in the location. It happened in early August this year at around 10.30 a.m. Tulsibhai was alone at home with his wife who is 62. Mr. Ajitsinh, a Rajput living in a home across the road, had asked Tulsibhai to move away from the area as they did not want a Bhangi community person living next door. Provocations started with Ajitsingh’s family using bad words, addressing them by their caste status. They got their domestic dog’s excreta and household garbage to be heaped in front of Tulsibhai’s house. Whenever Tulsibhai pleaded with them to stop these acts, Ajitsinh threatened of dire consequences. Tulsibhai’s three sons live in Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad, pursuing careers. ) On the fatal morning,. Tulsibhai was at home with his wife. He stepped out of the house, and across the street stood Ajitsinh. So he requested him again not to cast any slurs on his being a Bhangi, and to clear the waste heap in front of Tulsibhai’s door. Ajitsingh was enraged. He and all his family members stormed into Tulsibhai’s house and started beating the old man and his wife with a hockey stick, and some rod. It was brutal. They entered the house, closed the door from inside and beat him with an attempt to kill. They vandalised the entire house. Ajitsinh called Tulsibhai’s son Shrikant at Bhavnagar, about 2 hours away from Palitana, and informed him that he and others are beating his father and will kill him, if the son did not have the courage to come down right away. Shrikant reached 1.30 the afternoon. He dialed for an ambulance and took his father to hospital. After MLC report was given by the hospital, the police reached the hospital ward. A fractured left leg and grave injuries to the body, did not move the police to act. Tulsibhai was shunted out to the Bhavnagar Civil Hospital, where again another MLC report was prepared. Again, around 1.00 a.m. Rabari, a PSI of the area, came to the Bhavnagar Civil Hospital for writing the Panchnama. But, the FIR was not filed. It took more persuasion the following day before the FIR was filed with the Palitana Town Police station. Two more days later, Ajitsinh and his family members were summoned to the Police station, but were immediately relieved. Tulsibhai doesn’t have the energy or the resources to fight this anymore. He has now shifted to Bhavnagar to live with his son Shrikant. He is mortally afraid of going back to his own house at Palitana. The authorities couldn’t care less. If anyone wants to speak to Tulsibhai, and lend any support, you can write to him at Mr. Shrikant Berdiya, G-‐8, Vardhaman Complex, Bhadevani Sheri, Pirchhila Road,Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
Law says no more manual scavengers. A Bill seeking to prohibit employment of individuals as manual scavengers by prescribing stringent punishment, including imprisonment up to five years, was passed by Parliament early Sept. It has provisions for rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their family members as well. The Bill has a wider scope for higher penalties than what was provided under the 1993 Act. Offences under the Bill are cognizable and non-‐bail able, and may be tried summarily. The Bill seeks to wipe out the ‘social stigma’ by arranging for alternative jobs and offering other provisions to those in such work and their families.
The Minister for Social Justice Kumari Selja said the earlier Act did not prove very effective. Under the new law, each occupier of an insanitary latrine is responsible for converting or demolishing it at his own cost. If he fails to do so, the local authority will convert the latrine and recover the cost from him. Each local authority, cantonment board and railway authority are responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within their jurisdiction. “Such latrines, where manual scavenging happens, will have to be demolished; otherwise somebody will be engaged to do it,” Ms. Selja said. The government would chip in with financial help, she said. “Despite prohibition of manual scavenging, the practice is still prevalent... This dehumanising practice is inconsistent with the right to live with dignity,” she remarked.
[Tags : Equity]
LIFE IN SLOW LANE
A Filthy History: When New Yorkers Lived KneeDeep in Trash
An early image of the sanitation department collecting trash, circa late 1890s. Photo courtesy DSNY.
A street sweeper, or “San Man,” in Midtown Manhattan in 1964. Via National Geographic.
It’s tempting to think of sacred tombs and ancient monuments as our best window into other cultures. But archaeologists have long known that if you really want to understand a civilization, to know its people’s passions, weaknesses, and daily rituals, look no further than their garbage. Robin Nagle has spent much of her life fascinated by trash, and its oft-‐unseen impacts on our society, our environment, and our health. Nagle’s recent book, “Picking Up,” chronicles a decade working with the New York City Department of Sanitation, years spent in their offices, transfer stations, locker rooms, and of course, their garbage trucks. Interspersed with Nagle’s personal experiences are enlightening tidbits from the city’s long and difficult history of trash collection. As Nagle points out, we live in cities literally built on trash, yet the management of household waste remains one of the most invisible aspects of modern existence. In the U.S., the most wasteful country per capita, each citizen throws away an average of 7.1 pounds per day, according to garbage guru Edward Humes. So what place could be better to study the impact of this onslaught than New York City, which generates nearly 22 million pounds of household waste every day?
In 2002, Nagle was first granted access to the department’s archives, and in 2003, she initiated the process of actually becoming a sanitation worker. After working closely with the department for years—riding routes, visiting garages, attending social events, and interviewing employees—Nagle was named the department’s only Anthropologist in Residence in 2006. “It’s the perfect title,” says Nagle, “the perfect framing of my relationship with them. It lets me propose weird things, and they just shake their heads and say, ‘It must be because she’s an anthropologist.’” Nagle’s research covers all the complexities of our sanitation situation, from landfill archaeology to the integration of women in a male-‐dominated profession. One of Nagle’s most disturbing revelations is that a career in sanitation is more dangerous than working for the fire or police department, despite a clear absence of public appreciation for our garbage men and women. Now that the book is finished, Nagle is working to document the field’s oral history and develop a Museum of Sanitation. Part of Nagle’s motivation is to restore the dignity of the profession and remind urban dwellers that they couldn’t function without a sanitation department. We recently spoke with Nagle about the hidden life of trash and the complicated business of managing it. When was the sanitation department established in New York? Nagle: It was created as the Department of Street Cleaning in 1881, and renamed the Department of Sanitation in 1929. But it was actually made effective for the first time in 1895, in that the people who worked for the department actually collected garbage and swept the streets. In its early days, the department didn’t really function at all. There are some photographs taken for Harper’s Weekly, before and after photos of street corners in New York in 1893 and then in 1895. And the before pictures are pretty astonishing, people were literally shin-‐high or knee-‐high in this muck that was a combination of street gunk, horse urine and manure, dead animals, food waste, and furniture crap. Put yourself back in the late 19th century and think about the material world that would have surrounded you in your home. When you threw something out, it wouldn’t go anywhere. It would be thrown in the street. This was mostly because of corruption in the city government. It was a very easy source of plunder. The people in charge of street cleaning were in the pockets of people like Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall [a corrupt political group that controlled New York City’s Democratic party]. Other cities all over the world had figured out how to solve this waste problem decade earlier, but New York persisted in being infamously, disgustingly dirty.
The June 22, 1895, edition of Harper’s Weekly compared photos of the same street corners two years earlier to show what an incredible transformation street cleaning had affected. Via the New York Public Library.
When Waring’s “White Wings” first began cleaning up New York streets in the 1890s, they needed police protection from disgruntled residents. Photo courtesy DSNY.
When did the situation change? Nagle: There was a police corruption scandal in the early 1890s that was so spectacular the Tammany political machine could not control the reaction. So they were kicked out of office in the mayoral elections of 1894. A guy named William Strong took over as mayor, and he swore to appoint people of integrity as his commissioners. For street cleaning, he first reached out to Teddy Roosevelt, who basically said, ‘What, are you nuts? Nobody should do that. That’s an impossible job. I’m not going to do that.’ So Roosevelt took over the police department, which was also in dire need of reform.
Mayor Strong reached out to a Civil War officer, a veteran and a self-‐titled “sanitary engineer” and a bit of a showman, named George Waring. He asked Waring to take over street cleaning, and they had a conversation that Waring later recounted to the press in which he said, “I’ll do it under one condition – you leave me alone. If you want to fire me, of course, that’s your right. But I will appoint and hire the people I feel are best for the job, not because they’re people you want to do favor for.” The mayor agreed and Waring immediately gave the department a hierarchical, military-‐type structure that is still in place today. This made people immediately responsible for very clearly defined tasks, like someone was assigned to sweep from this corner to that corner 10 blocks down, and they were going to do it inside these eight hours, and this cart was going to follow and the driver of the cart had these set hours. If there were any problems, the officer immediately in charge of that crew would have to answer for them, and then the officer above had to answer for the larger regional work. So Waring set that in place, and then he went after the filthiest corners of the whole city, which were the poorest neighborhoods, because wealthier districts had been hiring their own private cleaning companies for years. In the really poor corners of the city, like Five Points, to see anyone from the local government come into the neighborhood was not good news for local residents. They threw bricks at the street cleaners and came out to fight them with sticks. Waring said to his men, “You keep going back. You show them what we’re going to do and you see if you don’t change their hearts.” By the end of two weeks, he had tenements full of ardent fans because he cleaned their neighborhoods. Then he spread out from there, and he wasn’t afraid to fire people if they didn’t do their work. He said to everyone in the department, “You start with a clean slate with me. You work to keep your job.” He did truly creative things, like founding the Juvenile Leagues, so that children in public schools were taught to be eyes on the street for sanitation and law enforcement. Often these were kids whose parents spoke no English, so they were helping to inculturate an older generation with these new practices, teaching them that you don’t litter or throw your garbage on the street. There were more than a thousand of those groups over time. The dapper Civil War veteran George Waring described himself as a “sanitation engineer.” Photo courtesy DSNY.
Waring also dressed the workers in white, and even his wife said, ‘What, are you crazy?’ But he wanted them to be associated with notions of hygiene. Of course, those in the medical profession wore white, and he understood, quite rightly, that it was an issue of public health and hygiene to keep the street clean. He also put them in the helmets that the police wore to signify authority, and they quickly were nicknamed the White Wings. These men became heroes because, for the first time in anyone’s memory, they actually cleaned the city. It was a very bright day in the history of the department. Waring was only in office for three years, but after he left, nobody could use the old excuses that Tammany had used to dodge the issue of waste management. They had always said it was too crowded, with too many diverse kinds of people, and never mind that London and Paris and Philadelphia and Boston cleaned their streets. New York was different and it just couldn’t be done. Waring proved them wrong. Rates of preventable disease went down. Mortality rates went down. It also had a ripple effect across all different areas of the city. How have the department’s goals shifted over the last century?
Fresh Kills is the Staten Island dump you’re referring to?
New York’s Sanitation Department even produced its own quarterly magazine in the 1960s, called simply “Sweep.” Image courtesy DSNY.
A view of Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, circa 1950. The dump ground closed in 2001.
A rendering of the Fresh Kills Park project, currently underway on the site of New York City’s former Staten Island landfill.
Nagle: The ��mission today, in a sense, is exactly the same as it’s always been—sweeps the streets; collect the garbage, figure out how to pick it up and where to put it down. In a nutshell, that’s the job, plus plowing the snow, which has always been part of the department’s mandate. But it’s changed from a hundred years ago, in that now we have nowhere within the boundaries of New York to put down our trash. It has to go outside the city, which means we pay hundreds of millions of dollars to private companies to take our trash to other places. These other places include most of the states on the Eastern Seaboard and several in the Midwest. And that’s just New York City trash; that’s not the rest of the state. Every day, we generate 11,000 tons of garbage and 2,000 tons of recyclables, and that’s just household waste, which is roughly a third of the total trash output of the city on any given day. The other two categories are commercial, which is businesses and restaurants and whatnot, and then what’s called “C & D,” or construction and demolition debris. The New York City Department of Sanitation is responsible only for the household component of that. Sanitation is also supposed to be responsible for waste reduction overall, which is a little puzzling to me. To me, that’s a little bit like telling an undertaker he’s supposed to help lower disease and death rates. We’re responsible for the end product; we have nothing to do with the manufacturers and distributors and marketers nor are we holding the hands of the consumers who buy this stuff. But still, part of sanitation’s mandate is waste reduction. The entire effort of recycling is also an increasingly important part of what sanitation does. The politics of sanitation have become far more complex, partly because of important movements like environmental justice, which argues that communities of color or communities that are economically disadvantaged should not have to bear an unfair burden when waste management facilities are sited. Whether it’s a recycling materials drop-‐off or a waste transfer station or a sanitation garage or a compost facility, they shouldn’t be concentrated in any one neighborhood. Staten Island, which is the only reliably Republican borough of New York’s five boroughs, was host to the city’s only dump for many years. It’s largely white, and it’s largely middle class, but the residents claimed to be victims of environmental injustice. And they were right. It’s bigger than just class and race. The NIMBY, or “Not In My Back Yard” concept is huge now, all over the world. Fresh Kills is the Staten Island dump you’re referring to? Nagle: Yes, but it’s now a remarkable park. Fresh Kills was one of many New York City landfills when it opened on April 19, 1948. There was also a network of incinerators in the city, but every landfill and incinerator was closed over time, so that by the early 1990s, Fresh Kills was the only option left. All of Manhattan’s trash was going out of the city by the time Fresh Kills closed in March of 2001. It was briefly reopened for September 11th material, and that effort was finished in August of 2002. And from that point forward, they’ve been
turning it into a park, very thoughtfully, I might add. You can take your little kid there and not worry that he’s going to be eating garbage. It’s not open to the public yet, but they do tours. It’s breathtaking. You’re standing on some of the highest points within the city, and you’re surrounded by green. You see the city like a penciled sketch on the horizon, the oil refinery tanks across the water in New Jersey, and the suburbia of Staten Island. But while you’re actually in the park, you also see deer and hawks and all kinds of fascinating water creatures. It’s bucolic. And there’s no smell, unless you count wildflowers and sometimes that lovely, mucky smell at low tide that’s normal on any estuary. What makes sanitation work so unsafe? Nagle: There are two primary sources of danger. One is that the stuff you toss in the back of the truck has a tendency to come shooting back out at you. If you get hit by that, you could be in trouble, because as you know, people throw out everything, even stuff that is supposed to be discarded in a more controlled context. So the trash itself is dangerous. Then there’s traffic. When you’re working in and out of traffic all day, and you’re working with a piece of equipment that people only acknowledge because they want to get around it. They don’t say to themselves, “Oh, there are human beings connected to that vehicle, therefore I will be more careful now.” A garbage truck inspires something more like, “Oh, it’s a garbage truck. I got to get away from it as fast as possible.” For instance, a school bus has its blinking lights and stop sign, and if you go around a school bus that has its lights going, you will get slapped with a very fat ticket. But there are no hardwired protections built into our traffic system for garbage trucks. Why don’t people know where their trash goes? Nagle: Well, are they aware of where their water comes from? Or where their electricity starts? Or where their computer components were made? We are profoundly connected across the globe to people we will never know, and we’re profoundly connected regionally by the path of our discards and the material flow of bringing those things into our life. But I think we’ve been taught to ignore those kinds of things. I don’t mean that we learned it in school, but as a cultural assumption that underlies contemporary life, those are not our concerns. Do you think this invisibility has an impact on how wasteful we are? Nagle: Sure. When I throw an object out, it still has a life, and it now activates this complex network of protocols and systems and controversies. But because we don’t have an awareness of this, it’s much easier to just let it go. In the case of, say, water bottles, what if a company that markets water in these plastic bottles was responsible for the end use of those bottles, after the water is gone. People are throwing them out their car windows, or letting them fall on the street, or putting them in our rivers and lakes. But the company would have to go and get all that stuff, and it would be a strong incentive to come up with an alternative, something that maybe isn’t a plastic water bottle. As long as we don’t look at the larger system, and let different industries foist off the long-‐term consequences of their manufacturing processes, as long as we let all of that be externalized, we are screwed, not to put too fine a spin on it. But we are also unaware, we meaning just the general public, the people at large. This is quite a heartbreak: People want to do the right thing. So do you tell them, recycle your water bottle and you will save the planet? No. If you recycle your water bottle, you have taken a very important first step, but that’s all it is. Then the question is, what are the next steps? How do we prevent this bottle from coming into being in the first place? How could people be made more aware of their own waste? Nagle: You know how there are nutrition labels on food? It would be fascinating if there were labels on every product we buy that told you exactly where each component in that product came from, what the energy cost to transport it was, what other wastes were created. It would be an interesting challenge to put that kind of info graphic on the back of a shampoo bottle or something. At least that would let people make different kinds of choices, and begin to understand the life-‐cycle analysis of the consumer choices they make. Although, our individual consumer choices are still a tiny, tiny piece of the big picture. Municipal household waste accounts for three percent of the nation’s waste drain. We need to increase awareness of that statistic, and then shine a bright light on all of these other categories and the alternatives that could be proposed to prevent those streams. What else can we do to bring positive attention to the importance of this job? Nagle: Just say, “Thank you.” When I started doing that on my own as my little private campaign several years ago, I was amazed at the reaction. The guys were astonished that anybody was bothering to say thank you. It’s one small gesture that an individual can make that honors them in a small, but real way.
In terms of the bigger public issue, when cities talk about larger themes of city life like education and policing and environmental well-‐being, they need make sure whoever is in charge of the garbage is mentioned, and standing next to the mayor along with the police commissioner and in the headshot of the officials and woven into casual conversation from elected officials about important city infrastructure issues. Those are small things, but they make a big difference. Write letters to the editor, “Hey, I saw my sanitation guys today doing a fantastic job, just wanted to give them a shout-‐ out.” They certainly get the letters when they aren’t doing a good job.
Since the late 19th century, snow removal has always been part of the sanitation department’s mission and is one of the job’s most visible duties. Photo courtesy DSNY.
Nagle believes a better connection to our garbage’s afterlife might help curb our monstrous waste. Above, barges transport waste to Fresh Kills in 1973.
Since the late 19th century, snow removal has always been part of the sanitation department’s mission and is one of the job’s most visible duties. Photo courtesy DSNY.
[Tags : Waste, Health, City Scape]
SOLAR-POWERED BOATS DRIVE FISHING TRADE IN TN
Fishers in a Tamil Nadu village save cost and improve catch with solar panel-fitted boats.
Little Flower, first fishing boat in Thoothoor, Tamil Nadu, to use solar power (Photo: S Jayaraj, BOBP-IGO)
Little Flower doesn’t look different when viewed from outside. Even the interior of this fishing boat is not different from others, anchored nearby. It has a diesel engine, a wheelhouse, a cabin for storing fish, fishing tools, modern gadgets like GPS, sonar fish finder, wireless set, and of course, a television, a grinder and a dozen of CFL bulbs. “Please have a look there,” insists M Sahayaraj, proud owner of the boat, pointing at the rooftop of the wheelhouse. The rooftop is fitted with four solar panels. “These panels help me save a good amount on diesel and get a good catch,” Sahayaraj says with a wide smile on his tanned face. Sahayaraj lives in Thoothoor, a small fishing village along the western coast of Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. Thoothoor fishers are traditional shark hunters. “They are adventurous and enterprising,” says J Vincent Jain, chief executive officer of the Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen, a non-‐profit in Thoothoor. “More than that, they are innovative,” Jain says. Praise the Lord is another boat in the village that runs its gadgets on solar power. Jain says Thoothoor’s fishers are probably the first ones in the country to use solar energy in commercial fishing boats. Losses, the mother of innovation Over the past few decades, artisanal fishers of Thoothoor have shifted to boats fitted with diesel engines and other modern equipment, leaving behind their traditional rowing boats and rafts. Now there are about 500 diesel-‐powered fishing boats in the village. These boats are capable of venturing up to 400 nautical miles into the sea and have enabled Thoothoor’s fishers to fish across the country’s two million square kilometers of territorial waters, called the Exclusive Economic Zone. “We stay in the deep sea for 30 to 40 days if we find out a good fishing ground,” says Sahayaraj. “Each boat employs 10 to 15 people. So we have to carry everything along with us—food, water, diesel and ice blocks—to last for more than a month.” “We carry about 10,000 litres of water, 7,000 litres of diesel and 800 blocks (one block weighs about 40 kg) of ice along with us,” says A Sil Verian, another fisher from Thoothoor. “A month-‐long fishing trip costs us about Rs 5 lakh. Diesel accounts for a major part of the expense, say about 70 per cent.” One of the reasons for such high fuel consumption is that most boat owners buy used truck engines to save money. Besides, though engines can be turned off while fishing, fishers run it continuously to avoid restarting troubles and to recharge batteries that are the main source of power for lighting the boat and operating navigational and other safety equipment. “The cost of fishing has increased in tandem with diesel prices but the catch remains the same,” points out V Romanse, secretary of the association. As a result, many fishers in Thoothoor are now facing losses and are in the grip of moneylenders. Solar offers solace
Heavy losses prompted the community to pool ideas on how to reduce diesel consumption. “Cutting down fuel was necessary to earn profits from fishing while curbing greenhouse gas emissions from burning of diesel as the gases affect fish stocks,” says Jain. The association organised workshops to create awareness among the community about clean, renewable sources of energy. Many fishers preferred solar energy as an alternative. The association received financial and moral support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and FAO’S Bay of Bengal Programme-‐Inter-‐governmental Organisation (BOBP-‐IGO). It contacted several companies working in the solar energy sector for making solar-‐powered fishing boats. “Most companies quoted high prices for the work. Finally, two companies, Jagath Jothi Solar Energy in Chennai and Sirius Controls in Bengaluru, offered a helping hand,” Jain recalls. “It was a challenge for us,” says Kichu Krishnan, managing director of Sirius Controls. “We had never worked for the fishing sector.” The problem is, says N Ravisunthar, managing director of Jagath Jothi, not enough research has been done on using solar energy in commercial fishing boats. To begin with, Jagath Jothi fitted solar panels on a small boat. It worked. Solar energy could propel the engine of the one-‐metre-‐long boat. But replicating this in big boats was not easy. The companies, however, accepted the challenge. Jagath Jothi worked on Praise the Lord and Sirius Controls on Little Flower. It took months before the boats could be fitted with solar panels. Four panels each with a capacity of 250 Watts were fitted on the rooftop of the wheelhouse. Together the panels generate about 1 kilowatt, sufficient to light the boat and run the gadgets. “But the power generated is too less to propel the engines of commercial fishing boats,” points out Ravisunthar. The cost of fitting solar panels, control board and wiring on Little Flower, which is a bigger boat, was Rs 3.75 lakh. Sirus Controls did it for free. For Praise the Lord, the cost was Rs 1.80 lakh. “Jagath Jothi offered us a discount of Rs 60,000,” says Jain. Fishers’ profit rises Powered with solar panels, Praise the Lord was the first boat to venture into the sea in November last year. Its experimental voyage lasted for five days. “Our boat was fully lighted. Fishers in other boats gave us a strange look because of this unusual brightness,” says S Theoclose, owner of Praise the Lord. “Usually, fishers use dim light to avoid frequent recharging of batteries. But with solar panels, we could use tube lights and LED lights and keep them on throughout the night. The panels helped us save about 150 litres of diesel, worth Rs 7,650,” says Theoclose. Little Flower made the second experimental voyage, which lasted for nine days. “We use lights to attract the catch while fishing during nights,” says Sahayaraj. “We caught more fish than other fishers because our lights were brighter.” Workers say they used to cut their fingers while removing fish from the hooks because of dim lights. Now removing fish has become safer and easier. Solar panels power all equipment in Little Flower, which include 11 CFL lights, five tube lights, four focus lights, a GPS, a sonar fish finder and two wireless sets. Sahayaraj says the panels work even on cloudy days. Hurdles ahead
Profits earned by Sahayaraj and Theoclose have prompted other fishers in Thoothoor to install solar panels on their boats. But the association is short of funds. “NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) has agreed to provide us Rs 7.88 lakh for the work,” says Jain. But just installing solar panels to light the boat and run other equipment is not enough. Jain says the next step is to make engines run on solar energy. This requires more solar panels. This is not only expensive, using so many solar panels on a boat may offset its balance. “A lot of research is required for developing new designs for boats as well as the right kind of panels and the way they are fitted on the roof,” says Krishnan. But neither the Centre nor the state government has schemes to address these concerns. [Tags : Technology, Greenovation]
CATCHING WATER AND STORING
In many ZED Campuses, you will find a gentle mound in ferroconcrete which hides a storage tank of 70,000 liters on your left. This little structural marvel has saved two tons of carbon compared to a regular wall-‐based structure. It’s curved;
somewhat tubular form offers structural strength while sharply reducing the use of RCC and steel. This is a rainwater harvest [RWH] tank that feeds about 2.5 million liters a year of clean, soft water harvested through a network of pop-‐up filters and pipes. Such RWH tanks were originally envisaged in 2006 [only in 2010 did the State government make it legislation!]. The original design was revised, inspired as we were by the work of Prof C H Shah, a remarkable engineer who we commissioned for this challenge. The intent is to ensure 100 per cent uninterrupted water security for the residents. Remember ZED Campus are among the very few today in India, which do not rely on external water supply or any deep bore well for its water. The taps and showerheads of these homes have low-‐flow components that help you save over 35000 liters of water every year on this one set of devices alone. Any ZED home saves as much as 1, 05,000 liters a year! [Tags : Water, Urban Ecology]
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'RETROFIT' SOLUTIONS FOR EXISTING BUILDINGS
In cities there are multistory buildings. How to go about converting them 'green'? Asked by: Sudarsanam There are 'retrofit' solutions that one can look at. Keep in focus the 3 key elements -‐-‐ energy, water and waste. If it is a residential to building, get the occupants/owners to replace all water fixtures [taps, showers, Water closets] with new systems that run at less than 7 to 11 liters per minute against the old versions that exceed 12 to 20 LPM. Look at installing rainwater harvest systems. Get the community to invest in a tertiary water treatment plan and to reloop the treated water for gardens, car wash and even for floors swabbing. Create an additional network of water distribution pipes that enables the occupants to have a tap that is exclusively for these purposes. This will game-‐change the quantum of fresh water that you demand from the grid outside or from deep borewells. You will increase water security for the campus; and you will also reduce on energy bills for pumps at the campus maintenance levels. Similarly on energy, get the building to dump all old energy-‐inefficient pumps. Install 5-‐star rated pumps. You will recover the additional capital cost in less than 2 to 4 years, and for the rest of the life of the equipment, you will continue to save energy. On Waste management, ensure that no wet waste is exported out of the apartment or the office block. Treat such waste and convert them to compost that can be sold, if you are not using it for your own gardens. Grow vegetables in the terrace and other balcony patches in your homes. That will make for effective use of the compost that you generate. You could do many more such things. Like with politics in this country, you need a community mindset shift! That's all you need. And the help of a few experts. Google for more info on such green service providers. You will find many in your own city and neighborhood!
Sir, in India when someone builds a house he thinks of durability and security more than anything else. As far as the latter is concerned, do you think green homes can provide adequate security from burglars? Asked by: S.Mukhopadhyay Let me first state that when we build a 'green home' you are not building anything that is different from a regular house. You are addressing issues of energy, water and waste. You are coming from a conscious understanding of the transportation energy for the building materials that you ship to the place where you build the house. You are also building to specs that you think are necessary for making the home burglar-‐proof, water-‐proof, and all the rest of the parameters of performance that you have outlined. I may add that it is not any more as cost entailment goes. Well, you don't have to compromise on comfort, convenience, or even luxury. [Tags : Greenovation, Energy, Housing]
THIS HOME IS FREE FROM CLUTTER OF POWER, WATER LINES
One can find freedom from power cuts, mounting water bills; besides eliminate the need for clumsy sewage connections, if only he or she has the green will. The added bonus will a lesser feeling of guilt over contributing to carbon footprints.
Green satisfaction Srinivasan Sekar, 50, has done just that. His eco commitment has been such that he does not mind the extra burden that the environment-‐friendly home that he built puts on his personal finances. For, he believes that investing in Earth’s cause can pay rich dividends in the long run.
Sekar has built his two-‐storey house, that is pleasing in its architectural simplicity, on a 4,000-‐sqft plot at Sompura near Sarjapur. It optimally harnesses green energy technologies. He recently moved into the new house and is not dependent on the Bescom line or BWSSB’s water or sewage connections. Sekar, who quit his career in the IT industry, has installed 12 solar panels on his rooftop and they more than takes care of the energy needs of the appliances in his house. Reuse and recirculation of water are his mantra so that use of the precious commodity is optimised. He began construction of the building in April 2012. In August 2012, he started researching and conceptualising the green ideas. Sekar has adopted the slow sand filter technology, approved by World Health Organisation, for clean drinking water. The drinking water is reused twice -‐ the first time to flush toilets and second to water the gardens and trees. The initial source of water is a rainwater harvesting system that yields 20,000 litres after a good three-‐hour rain. The rainwater then goes through sand and activated carbon filters for general purpose use, including drinking. Water from showers and wash basins are collected and filtered through a slow sand filter and is chlorinated, for use in toilets and for gardening (after chlorine is depleted through activated carbon). 3-‐stage sedimentation Waste water from the toilet is then collected in a septic tank, where water is treated in three-‐stage sedimentation stages and passed through a reed bed filter, before being used for irrigating trees. Says Sekar: “The solar panels last for 25 years and I got them installed at over Rs four lakh. On any given day, including rainy days, it can generate 12-‐15 units which is sufficient for most four-‐people households. Sun is more certain to come up each day than availability of grid power which is coal-‐based, nuclear and hydel. Last week when it rained, the water tank collected upto 30,000 litres. Till now, I used only 1,000 litres for the entire week.” Very soon, Sekar’s family will relocate to the new house. Next on his agenda is adopting turbines to harness wind energy, but he says that procuring the machines is a tad difficult as very few companies in India sell them. “If every household harvests rainwater, the City will be fully self-‐sufficient, with no need to divert water from faraway rivers,” said Sekar, who is now designing waste water management and solar solutions for residential complexes and individual homes. [Tags : Water, Energy, Housing, Technology, Greenovation]
CITY SMART HOW MUCH WATER DO YOU NEED.
These days you hear about green buildings and energy-‐efficient buildings. People tell you that these buildings are water-‐ efficient apart from being energy-‐efficient. How does this happen? What is actually done in a building in order to make it water-‐efficient? Let’s start with the density of a settlement. If I have reduced in an apartment the number of families or apartment homes to let us say 40biomes an acre, then I have brought a dramatic drop of about 40 per cent from the norm of about 70-‐90 flats an acre of housing development that you have across the building industry. But then that is not always the solution because market demands and dictates will suggest that they have greater density and smaller houses because markets and prices are not something that we can govern at levels of sensitive urban planning. The other is that if you are therefore left with something like 70 flats to an acre and with a total gross freshwater demand of about 125,000 litres, you will have to figure out how you will address three aspects of supply-‐side management. One, to see that you have designed to instal faucets and showers that drop the flow of water to as little as 5 litres per minute (lpm) from the norm of about 12 lpm that continues to be sadly the norm. The new-‐generation Zed-‐engineered faucets and sanitary fittings are enabling a sharp drop with installations called aerators or flow restrictors. They don’t cost too much more either. Now, with such aerators the flow of water, to you as a lay person, is much the same as it is with regular faucets. But from the context of demand-‐side management you will see that there is a drop of very nearly 70 pc in the demand for fresh water. The other is that you need to see the water that flows off your kitchens, showers and wash basins are all directly plugged out of the building; this is called grey water. Typically in the building industry this grey water is combined with black water that comes off water closets. We have been advocating and practicing the separation of grey water and black water from a building and treating them in a way that the black water is used for gardens and the grey water is recycled on a loop for your flush tanks. There are systems that treat the waters together and provide treated, clean drinking water. The other aspect of such demand-‐side management is harvesting rainwater. For every 100 square meters or 1000 square feet of a terrace you can harvest nearly 250,000 litres in a year. So you can imagine what you can do in an apartment block if you used all the water that falls on your terraces as well as on all the hard surfaces that flank the buildings. This means essentially that for about three acres you will have about 2.5 million liters or 25 lakh liters of rainfall that can be captured and utilized with some basic treatment for purposes of freshwater itself in your apartment campus! Now, between the three strategies, the demand for freshwater reduced is dramatic. As much as 70 pc. So you have a story where 120,000 liters of regular demand in an apartment, drops down by 80,000 liters, essentially because you have done effective, strong demand-‐side management of these three practices of rainwater harvesting, of flow restrictors and aerators at every faucet and shower, and of treating all your grey and black water and reusing it in a mode that is not so much about recycling as much as it is about upcycling. There is however one other aspect, apart from the three, when it comes to demand side planning. That has to do with efficient landscaping architecture. As a matter of fact whether it’s the Green Business Council or other professional bodies, they understand how indigenous plants don’t claim as much water as exotic species. What does this mean? At the time, you plan your planting and vegetation in the apartment or the residential or commercial project; you look for hardy, water-‐efficient species. Please ensure you have had some good professional who knows how to pick endemic, water-‐efficient species, as well as water-‐efficient irrigation systems. That’s a subject that needs some delving in greater detail. How you manage the supply of this efficiently designed system as far as water needs go and how you introduce them in, is another story. More the next time … [Tags : Water, Energy]
Video of the day
In the beginning of 2012 two young men set off on a motorcycle, on a journey that took them from Bangalore through the tribal homelands of Orissa and Jharkhand ravaged by indiscriminate mining. The Curse of Karna is a film about what they discovered on the road – a land of lawlessness, an industry without governance and uncountable stories of communities struggling against immense odds… [Link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r59IYcNNj58)]
Zediquette Green-‐rated refrigerators use 40 per cent less energy than conventional models. If you are stuck with an older model for a little longer, congratulate yourself on not contributing to waste by dumping it! There are a few simple things you can do to reduce your running cost and make your old fridge more efficient. Keep the thermostat at an appropriate level to prevent wasting energy on freezing temperatures. If the fridge is near a window, draw the curtains to keep the sun out, clean the condenser coil (usually at the back of the machine) and make sure the seals on the doors are maintained. When you go on a vacation, empty the refrigerator and turn it off leaving the door slightly ajar. It will be fresh when you come back home.
You’ve Got It Coming The 'black and grey' of water Closing the water loop What you see in this patch of garden is also a wastewater treatment system that purifies 80,000 litres of water every day. This unique system has two streams of water that is treated separately—sullage [or grey water] and sewage [or black water]. Grey water from wash basins and showers is treated separately to a level of purity that you can even drink! But we use it for flush tanks only. Such treatment reduces fresh water demand by 7000 litres a day or nearly 2.5 million litres a year. At the treatment plant, you will see a set of water and energy metres that monitor flow of water and energy efficiency. For example, at ZED Collective, the treated grey water is directed to all flush tanks in all 136 washrooms by a network of overhead tanks on the terrace. The quantum of water needed for flush tanks for all 72 homes is about 7500 litres a day at full occupancy—the same as what is generated as treated grey water daily. So we grow the loop and avoid fresh water for these needs.
Think about it . . . (to be put in a box as an inset in the text) 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. 2.3 billion people are projected to live in countries affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water
Gandhigiri What was the DNA of Gandhi’s thinking? Does he have any relevance for the future that's before us? Gandhigiri presents a column every edition that revisits his thoughts… Gandhi. The creation of wealth is important, and not the making of money for oneself. A capitalist has to regard himself as a trustee for those on who he depends for the making, the retention and the increase of his capital. No worker should wait for its conversion. If capital is power, so is work. Both powers can be used destructively, or creatively. Each is dependent on the other. If a capitalist aims at becoming the sole owner, he will most likely be killing the hen that lays the golden eggs. Of course, inequalities in intelligence and even opportunity will last till the end of time, but that does not mean we exploit. This he called the spirit of aparigraha, or non-‐possession. You hold whatever assets you possess in trust for the good of society, and of those who create the wealth. Owners and managers should not take more than is needed for a comfortable, but not extravagant, life. Provision has to be made without exception for healthy working and living conditions and general welfare.
Daadima says Our grandma’s were the ones to reveal the fascinating world of home remedies to us. They knew nearly everything. Daadima Says brings to you a compilation of cures for those little illnesses. Read on to give those pills a break. The Cure-‐All Tuber Onion paste mixed with pure honey can be used for insect bites, tumors, inflammation, boils containing pus, ulcers and nasal bleeding. Eaten raw, onion works against tuberculosis, typhoid, diabetes, cough, chest and lung problems, influenza, skin disease, kidney and gall stones, liver problems, intermittent fever, nausea and constipation.
Eco-‐moment Forests: Nature at Your Service 1.5 acres of rainforests is lost every second to land development and deforestation, with tremendous losses to habitat and biodiversity. That’s over 2,000 acres a day.
Yesterday, June 05, it was nice to see as much media attention for the World Environment Day this year, across India and the world. Many did not realize the theme this year revolved around how Forests and Nature are at our service; we can’t be taking that for granted. Forests, the 'lungs of the Earth', support 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, and continues to be home to 300 million people, or about 5 per cent of the world’s current population. It is sobering to know that they were one-‐third of the world’s people only 150 years ago. These forests are vital for sustenance of life on Earth, providing food, shelter and livelihood, to control soil erosion, conserve water, and keep the fragile balance of Earth. Tropical forests produce about 30% of the worlds freshwater. The world’s fresh water is only 0.7% of all water on the planet. Let’s remember that the rest 99.3% is not water we can drink! How do we protect what we have as forests? Whether it is power you need for running your computers or manufacturing steel and aluminum, you need the resources that lie underneath our forest beds. Remember this: • 1,000 KWh of power generated requires 700 kg of coal • Each tonne of coal requires 4.5 tonne of forest wood We are part of the challenge. Governments can do nothing, if we can’t change. Each unit of energy saved is ten units of energy not generated. Have a nice day, while you reflect on this?
Your day to celebrate February brings along a very special day to celebrate. And no, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day. National Science Day is celebrated in India on 28 February each year to mark the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman on 28 February 1928. For his discovery, Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. Sir C. V. Raman worked at Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata, West Bengal, India during 1907 to 1933 on various topics of Physics making discovery of the celebrated effect on scattering of light in 1928, which bears his name and that brought many accolades including the Nobel Prize in 1930. The American Chemical Society designated the 'Raman Effect' as an International Historic Chemical Landmark in 2013.
Deep Eco Deep Eco is a space dedicated to those people or communities which are much beyond the commercial and materialistic realms of life and represent the true spirit of humanity and deep understanding of ourselves and the world around us. A City Of Humanity
Auroville is a planned city for up to 50,000 people from around the world under development in south-‐east India, located close to the Coromandel Coast some 10 kms north of Puducherry and 150 kms south of Chennai. Aspects of Auroville can be found in other communities and projects around the world, but Auroville is the world's first and only internationally-‐recognised centre for research in human unity, which is also concerned with – and practically researching into – humanity’s future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs. Its global importance is emphasised by the fact that it has been endorsed by UNESCO, and enjoys the full support and encouragement of the Government of India, its host nation, which has approved its Master Plan. History The concept of an international-‐universal city devoted to an experiment in human unity originally sprang from the writings of India's great philosopher-‐yogi Sri Aurobindo. However, it was his French-‐born spiritual collaborator and co-‐worker Mirra Alfassa, known as The Mother, who first gave it more concrete form, by naming it 'Auroville' and stating: "Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity."
The site chosen for Auroville was a severely eroded plateau extending eastwards to the sea. An early priority for the project was the environmental regeneration and reafforestation of the area, which in the late 1960s had been officially described in a Government report as being in "an advanced state of desertification." Tens of thousands of trees and shrubs were planted (to date over 2 million) and erosion control begun, with the result that the area now has a green and widely forested landscape. Alongside this work, emphasis has always been placed on development of the city using non-‐polluting appropriate technology and sustainable energy generating systems. Auroville's significance and outreach Auroville has already gained national and international acclaim for its environmental work. Many hundreds of acres of forest cover have been created; indigenous flora and fauna have been re-‐introduced or have returned naturally; tree seedling nurseries have been established; and comprehensive soil and water conservation practices have been introduced. The development of ecologically-‐sound agriculture without the use of pesticides and detrimental chemicals, plus application of up-‐to-‐date agro-‐forestry techniques, is also being actively pursued.
Auroville has a well-‐organised waste recycling system, and is actively trying to raise awareness of the need to reduce and recycle waste throughout the whole Auroville area. Alongside all this, Auroville’s coordination of a major project to desilt and renovate the complex of artificial lakes (known locally as tanks) associated with the villages in the area, with the aim of improving their water holding capacity and helping to stabilise water tables, won a National Groundwater Augmentation Award. Auroville is also involved in raising awareness of the dangers of salt intrusion in the immediate coastal zone caused by over-‐pumping of ground water; is working with farmers’ associations to identify and introduce less water-‐dependent agricultural practices; and is advising on and promoting the use of effective micro-‐organism (EM) technology. (Source: http://www.auroville.org)