Emerging Role of RWAs in Conserving Environment

Participation of the community plays a vital role in efficient governance. Involvement of citizens inculcates the feeling of empowerment which helps communities to grow into the healthier living atmosphere. Such strong citizen groups result in sustainable solutions.

A Resident Welfare Association (RWA) is an elected body that represents residents of a colony and forms an essential part of modern societies.  With hundreds to thousands of residents living together in a society, an RWA is a voluntary body that works in the interest of its resident members.

RWAs today play an important part in motivating citizens to be involved and be partners in ensuring better living surroundings. Their feedback and involvement are vital at all stages of planning and execution. Empowering RWAs and in turn, residents help to identify the areas of disagreement and their realistic resolution. Their participation in the decision making process results in better financial management and utilization.  Increasing levels of awareness and desire to participate at the community level to resolve common issues are today attracting a compatible set of people to work together in society. Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) are the most important stakeholders today.

One very important area where the significance of RWAs cannot be diluted is conservation of Environment. Worldwide various organizations are struggling to fight issues like climate change, scarcity of potable water, single-use plastic menace, deforestation, air pollution, resource depletion, and garbage to name a few. It has been proven that change of behavior is the most effective measure to tackle all these issues. RWAs being directly in contact with citizens are best media to engage, influence and change the mindset of people.

With relatively younger and educated individuals entering RWA Management, the efficiency of RWAs has improved drastically. Citizens of our country have realized that the only way to bring about a positive impact on society and environment is to take ownership of the same.

A perfect example of efficient delivery with RWA involvement is Navjiwan RWA. This is a very active RWA that has an excellent rapport with its residents of Navjeevan Vihar. It has been regularly undertaking various environment related and social issues from time to time including water conservation, tree plantation, waste segregation at source and the most recent being Ban Single-Use Plastic Campaign. In this campaign, many important measures are taken by Navjiwan RWA. All sort of disposable bags are banned on vegetable and fruit carts entering Navjeevan Vihar. The security guards at the gate check these carts and confiscate the bags from these hawkers. Two cloth bags are provided to each cart at the entry gate. Residents are encouraged to bring their own bags but just in case they don’t do so, the hawker uses the cloth bag to give the stuff. The resident takes the bag inside her/his home, empties the bag and returns it to the hawker. At the time of exiting the colony, the hawkers return these cloth bags to the security guard at the gate. 78 children have registered for the campaign. Some of these children have been allotted 4-5 households each and some have been allotted shops in the market. These children have been briefed and informed by the Secretary, Navjiwan RWA, Dr. Ruby Makhija about the menace of plastic and the magnitude of the problem. These explain the same to every member of the household allotted to them including maids, drivers, and guard and get a pledge signed by them not to use Single-Use Plastic (bags, straws, bottles etc), carry their water bottles and use cloth/jute bags. These children follow up their households on a weekly basis.

Residents donate used bedsheets and curtains and Navjiwan RWA gets cloth bags stitched out of these bedsheets/curtains/sarees. These bags are distributed to the in-house market for use by shopkeepers who are also discouraged to use plastic bags. Each resident will also get a cloth bag to be kept in their car which will be used in case the resident forgets to carry a bag or goes out and shops unplanned. Ladies are being encouraged to keep a lightweight bag in their purses.

Navjiwan RWA will be celebrating Ban Single-Use Plastic success on 2nd October 2019 in Navjeevan Vihar.

All the events organized by Navjiwan RWA are plastic-free. Crockery borrowed from crockery bank is used for all the events saving thousands of disposables. Residents are encouraged to bring their own water bottles. Every effort by children and resident is duly recognized and appreciated in open forums of the colony. Children are felicitated and motivated for their participation. It is a model that should be replicated by other RWAs and civic agencies to bring about a mass movement in society.

Mr. Vinay Bhasin, President and Founder member of Navjiwan RWA is a renowned senior advocate who is the force behind Navjiwan RWA welfare activities. He remarked, “We call our colony Navjeevan Family – not Navjeevan Vihar”. He further added every resident of the colony has a responsibility towards the society and the environment that she/he is fulfilling with full sincerity.

Almost all residents including nearing 80 children participate wholeheartedly in all such initiatives. The secret for success of all these initiatives is a strong and determined RWA and aware residents. Dr. Makhija shares a strong bond with the residents, especially with children. She uses street plays, puppet shows, and stories as a medium to reach out to these children and to make them understand the significance of these initiatives.

Mrs. Shafali Mittal, General Secretary of Sarvodaya Enclave RWA also emphasized on the importance of RWAs in all Environment related initiatives. She said that RWAs an important arm of the system that cannot be bypassed.

The citizens and RWAs of adjoining colonies need to work together to plan and engage local authorities to ensure implementation. LET’S BE THE CHANGE is a group of RWAs, civic agencies, CSR initiatives and NGOs that is run by Dr. Makhija. It is a case of perfect coordination between RWAs as stakeholders, ULBs (Urban Local Bodies), CSRs and supportive organizations leading to high productivity.

Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Mrs. Meenakshi Lekhi feels very strongly for the Environment has resolved to put in all possible efforts to stop the use of Single-Use Plastic. She has been providing full support to Environment related initiatives. Addressing a gathering at Navjeevan Vihar,  she expressed that this cause is very close to her heart. She has been encouraging the involvement of citizens especially children in such initiatives. She has formed a group with RWAs of her constituency and is working in close association with them towards banning single-use plastic.

The appeal by our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi for Ban of Single-Use Plastic is the need of the hour and a very welcome move.  It is bound to have a very positive impact on our environment. It looks like the dream of sustainable development in India would finally come true.

Sanjaya K. Mishra (Mob. 981832647) Twitter

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Author: Enviro Annotations

Environmental Weekly Newspaper

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