Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, Minister for Climate & Environment, Norway visited Waste Management project at Navjiwan Vihar, Delhi in India

India and Norway have over almost 15 years developed a close cooperation on environmental matters. In 2006, the Norwegian-Indian Cooperation Commission was established, in order for the two countries to share experiences on environmental management.  In the recently concluded India visit of Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn was focused on the agenda; cooperation to reduce plastic litter worldwide, reduce climate gas emissions and securing global biodiversity. During the Pre-COP, CMS COP13, India and Norway signed an agreement to work together on various aspects including reducing the emissions of HFCs, climate, biodiversity and marine littering and plastic pollution.

Sanjaya K. Mishra
India and Norway have over almost 15 years developed a close cooperation on environmental matters. In 2006, the Norwegian-Indian Cooperation Commission was established, in order for the two countries to share experiences on environmental management.  In the recently concluded India visit of Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn was focused on the agenda; cooperation to reduce plastic litter worldwide, reduce climate gas emissions and securing global biodiversity. During the Pre-COP, CMS COP13, India and Norway signed an agreement to work together on various aspects including reducing the emissions of HFCs, climate, biodiversity and marine littering and plastic pollution.
In a significant move, on 19th February 2020, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, Minister for Climate and Environment of Norway visited Navjiwan Vihar with a delegation. Navjiwan Vihas, a South Delhi posh colony, has inspired many leaders with its consistent working and achievements in beating plastic pollution, 100% waste segregation, elimination of single-use plastic.  Mr. Rotevatn and his delegation, including Ms. Kaia Bilton, Minister Councilor; Ms. Nina Rør, Deputy Director General; Mr. Stig Ingemar Traavik, Special Envoy for Climate and Forest and many other Norwegian dignitaries were given a warm traditional welcome with Tilak, Aarti and flower shower by the children and residents of Navjiwan Vihar. Children also carried Indian and Norwegian flags to greet the visiting leader.
The visiting Minister, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn and his delegation took a tour of the colony, including dhalao, parks with leaf composters, and “Black Gold”, compost generated in the compost pits. They also witnessed garbage collecting carts and interacted with the residents, garbage collectors, domestic helps and children. He also witnessed our parks herbal patches, kitchen garden and blooming flowers.
 
Dr. Ruby Makhija, Secretary of Navjiwan RWA briefed the visiting Minister about various social and environmental initiatives taken by the RWA, such as; Shramdaan (neighbourhood cleanliness drive); Sanskaar (Value based group for children); Navjeevan Navodaya (Senior citizen care program); Upcycling of bags; Crockery Bank and Say No to Disposables; Drives against Single use plastic; Free Biodegradable Sanitary Napkins for domestic helps; Biomedical Waste program; Jantantra Mahotsav etc.
Some residents’ houses were also visited for understanding of waste generation, management at source and the process was recorded. The residents were interviewed by the visitors.  A Senior Journalist from Norwegian Broadcast Corporation officially covered the entire event.
 
Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn and his delegation also discussed how Navjiwan Vihar model can be replicated in other colonies in Delhi.
Mr. Madhusudan Hanumappa of ITC WOW ESREE Team Delhi, who has been an integral part of the entire waste management process said that the details are very specific for all to understand the importance of waste management and community engagement. He added, “It is further to emphasize that they are sensitive to the fact that we as a community are contributing to improving the environment, and enabling more livable cities. This is an inspiration and motivation to the team’s working on this. Three cheers to the entire residents and the office bearers of Navjiwan Vihar, the SDMC, the SSIL, the other utilities and the foot soldiers of the ITC Team. I am privileged to be part of this group of like minded, positive and ever striving members with the undying spirit, zeal and passion. Let us not only cheer them for the achievements, but also strength their hands by adopting the similar initiatives across Delhi and this movement should now scale up to the extent where Delhi and it’s RWAs should host the Minister of Environment all visiting countries where we share the same concerns for the environment to visit and see how transformation can and is doable if the community comes together. Together we can and we will.”
 
Dr. Ruby Makhija, Secretary, Navjiwan RWA said, “It was an honour to have His Excellency, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn – Hon’ble Minister for Climate and Environment, Norway and his delegates in our colony, Navjiwan Vihar. We are delighted for being chosen as a model colony for this project visit. I would like to emphasize that the program was organised by CSE where in the awareness programs and the community engagement was carried on Segregation of Waste at Source is being carried out by ESREE Foundation as part of the ITC CSR initiative under the Well Being out of Waste (WOW) program in Delhi. We are grateful to CSE, E Sree Foundation, ITC WOW. Thanks to Crockery Bank, we did not use even a single disposable in the small tea party saving almost 400 of them. Navjiwan Vihar is achieving greater heights under the dynamic leadership of our President Mr. Vinay Bhasin, and ably supported by the best Executive Committee members.”
Mr. Ramesh Verma, Addl. Commissioner, SDMC; Mr. Sudhir Mehta, SE DEMS; Mr. Prabhakar, , Executive Engineer, DEMS; and their other team members, representatives from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE); members of ITC WOW and E Sree Foundation were also present during the programme.
The visiting Minister appreciated the clean, green and serene neighbourhood of Navjiwan Vihar. “I am very impressed with India’s efforts to beat plastic pollution. Norway thinks that we need a global agreement dedicated to stopping marine plastics litter and micro plastics, and we invite India to participate in the global process to develop a stronger response to this urgent problem”, says Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn.
 
Mr. Vinay Bhasin, President of Navjiwan RWA said that “We are gratified for the visit of Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn with his delegation. This is a huge recognition to all the good works done by Navjiwan Family. Words of praise and encouragement from the visiting Minister and his delegation has brought in enormous boost to our energy levels and will help us to continue working with greater enthusiasm.”
 
After an hour of tour and interactions, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn walked down to Metro Station with the delegation and took the metro ride to his next destination.

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SDMC South Zone working in full swing for A Swachh Delhi

Sanjaya K. Mishra

21st December 2019, New Delhi

A program was held yesterday at SDMC, South Zone office, Green Park, in which, the winners of Swachh Survekshan 2020 second quarter winners in various categories were felicitated. First, Second and Third prize winners from Residents Welfare Associations, schools, hotels, hospitals, Market Traders Association, Government offices were awarded certificates by the Deputy Commissioner, SDMC, South Zone, Mr. Aman Gupta, and chairperson, SDMC, South Zone, Mrs. Tulsi Joshi. Senior officials from SDMC like Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Harish Kashyap and Deputy Health Officer, Dr. (Capt.) N. R. Tuli was also present.

Mrs. Joshi appreciated the efforts put in by these associations and requested them to spread their work far and wide. She also requested everyone to gear up and fight against the single-use plastic menace.

Mr. Aman Gupta, who has very recently taken the charge at South Zone, assured them of full support from SDMC.

Mr. Harish Kashyap, Asst. Commissioner and his team has been working relentlessly, even for prolonged hours beyond office time, on waste segregation, management, and against single-use plastic (SUP), and spreading knowledge, awareness of the health hazards of SUP among the residents.

The awardees shared their initiatives that made a significant difference in their respective areas. Dr. Ruby Makhija, Secretary, Navjiwan RWA and an ophthalmologist by profession who bagged the first award in the RWA category shared some path breaking initiatives by Navjiwan RWA. This RWA has not been using any disposables for its events for the last one year and has saved more than 15000 disposables in the last one year. Navjiwan Vihar has attained 100% waste segregation at source and has its own composting pits that take care of the entire wet waste in the colony that generates “Black Gold”. The residents of Navjiwan Vihar have worked significantly towards controlling single-use plastic and they upcycle the old bedsheets to make cloth bags.

Hyatt Regency Hotel received the first award in Hotel Category for its tremendous efforts in cutting down SUP bottled water and ensuring high levels of cleanliness in their hotel.

IGL was awarded the second prize in the Government Office category. They stressed the training and welfare of the staff.

Office of Deputy Commissioner, SDMC, South Zone was also awarded the third prize in the category of government office. Mr. Kashyap described the latest initiatives in which SDMC will be setting up 10 centres at various locations in South Zone. At these centres equivalent weight of compost will be given to citizens who will bring wet waste. Used bedsheets and curtains will be collected at these centres and cloth bags will be stitched and returned to the citizens totally free of cost. SDMC, South Zone will also be setting up “Neki ki Deewar” at various locations in South Zone where citizens can donate their used clothes. These clothes can then be picked up by the lesser privileged class of people.

Swachh Survekshan is a very welcome step that has been appreciated by all quarters. Such initiatives serve as a huge motivation to various sectors that are working towards saving the environment and making Delhi a Swachh place.

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The Stubble Trouble – Huddle up to water it down

Madhusudan Hanumappa

Madhusudan Hanumappa

The author is a Post Graduate educated in Economics & Environment law has been a Social Development Practitioner for the past 30 plus years working on infrastructure, policy and outreach advocacy, environment management, training capacity building, solid waste management, etc. His experience spreads across Asia, Pacific and South Africa

Stubble burning has been a curse for the capital city, Delhi. The neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana have been equally responsible in their contribution as much are the other factors of industrial and vehicular pollution addition to the chaos we are facing on a daily basis as citizens of Delhi.

This is the quality of life we do not deserve after being faithful tax payers. Where do we go from here? Who will address our concern about air pollution? Are we at a stage where we would be bumped off for the curse of choosing to live in Delhi?

Polluting Industries have been shifted from the city to the outskirts, again leading the city to expand beyond those boundaries. Various measures are being implemented. Vehicles are being experimented through Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), odd/even formula, expansion of metro services, building the peripheral expressway to avoid large trucks and those vehicles that would have passed through the city to, being diverted from a National Highway to another, trying to work on rehabilitation of the landfill sites, switching over fuel from diesel to Piped Natural Gas (PNG) to run industrial boilers and generators and so.

But we are at the critical stage of choking our lungs and dying a natural death in the process as none of the above seem to have helped much in the endeavour of reducing air pollution. Over the years this has rather steeply raised and is now moving faster to hit the skies faster than we can estimate.

It is time now to do something, immediately. The team of Let’s Be The Change (LBTC) could be an example. LBTC is a dynamic initiative by Dr. Ruby Makhija, General Secretary of Navjiwan Resident Welfare Association and an eye specialist by profession; where a group of like-minded citizens has joined hands to work towards the betterment of society and environment. The group has been relentlessly working to provide solution to one of the problems, which would have two-three effects.

Now speaking of stubble burning, and the problem of use of plastic in large quantities by the E-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart, etc., and enabling the farmers to earn a little from the stubble, which is burnt.

We, the team of LBTC, believe that looking from the traditional perspective the packing was generally done by using straw of various kinds for glass, or any other item that was transported for long distances. This was in practice if we look at the dates around the 1970s and 80s. Somehow, this practice got fizzled out due to the introduction of plastic; because of its low price, and easy availability. Over the years, we have become so much dependent on plastic that once the caption of Steel Authority of India, which said “there is a bit of steel in everybody’s life” could now be written as “there is only plastic in everybody’s life”.

So getting back to our subject, if a strategy could worked out, where it becomes win-win for all, the farmers, the e-commerce and the people of Delhi and its adjoining cities, suffering from the menace of the mammoth air pollution problem and predicament due to plastic, which has engulfed our lives to an extent where we have stalled our brains from thinking beyond this.

The quantity of products that the e-commerce companies are selling can be seen on the google sites where it indicates that, One of its India units, Amazon Seller Services alone have received over Rs. 8,000 crore (about USD 1.28 billion) during the financial year 2017-18 from the US parent, as per documents filed with India’s Corporate Affairs Ministry.  So, if I estimate a product to be on an average costing about Rs. 500 (because they sell everything under the sun, practically) then the number of products sold would be 1.5 crores. This shows the quantum of much plastic utilized. Considering use of about 100 gms of plastic (keeping it on the conservative side) it comes to nearly 15 lakh tons of plastic used.

Looking at the economics the cost of this plastic, designing product wise, procuring, quality check, transportation to each logistic centre, manpower cost, there is a huge recurring expenditure.

On the contrary, the utilization of the straw or the stubble for the packaging could save a huge sum. There may be issues pertaining to the collection, storage, cutting the straw into small units and then transporting to the logistic centres. But compared to the plastic this is easier to collect and also in terms of utilization. The cost-saving would also be great.

Further, in the process the farmers are benefitted with source of income from the waste generated, which they tend to burnt. This income could also enable them to buy products or services that will enhance the fertility of the soil through other alternates then burning the stubble.

Secondly, by adopting agricultural straws in packaging, there will be a significant reduction of the plastic usage, which is the dire necessity of the day. Above all, the cost to be incurred by the country for disposal of agricultural straw based packaging waste will be far negligible as compared to the plastic waste.

Thirdly, the issue of air pollution can be addressed in a large way. The economics of the health-related expenditure due to this air pollution may be calculated. But, not the lives we are losing to air pollution. At least, we are at loss to estimate a loss of life in terms of the family, society, and country.

Therefore, it would be important for the governments, the policy makers, the advocates, civil societies, the non-government organizations, the media, think tanks and the citizens need to come together in this endeavour as alone none of us can attain any solution. Together We Can and Together We Will.

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The Residents’ Welfare Associations – The Proactive Approach

Madhusudan Hanumappa

Madhusudan Hanumappa

The author is a Post Graduate educated in Economics & Environment law has been a Social Development Practitioner for the past 30 plus years working on infrastructure, policy and outreach advocacy, environment management, training capacity building, solid waste management, etc. His experience spreads across Asia, Pacific and South Africa

The generic

The resident or the citizen I would like to address is generally empowered by being a part of the city. More so in the context of a city of Delhi which has withstood the test of time for centuries we feed proud to be residing here. Like any other city, Delhi also has its set of challenges that the city poses to its residents and how we address them is up to us in partnership with the government and its agencies to make a better quality of life.

In this context, as part of my series of articles on Solid Waste Management, I would like to bring about the positives of a resident welfare association. Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) or for that matter many associations have created an image of being irresponsible, unreachable, untouchable, non-responsive, so and so forth. This more to do with the resident welfare associations. There is an election, some win the positions, and after that, it’s normal to just address some issues that are raised in common, like drains clogged, power failures, and similar problems. This also puts off the RWAs office bearers that they have become puppets in the hands of the residents and they keep blaming everything and all the time rather than acknowledging the efforts put in by the office-bearers. It becomes a thankless job.

But in my opinion when I started the program on solid waste management I also and my team faced a lot of resistance from the RWAs, the other residents, the other stakeholders in the community that are responsible to appropriately enable solid waste management. But persistence and patience has paid for me as an individual and as a program for my team.

The Program

Effective solid waste management through source segregation of waste at the households is the only method of enabling to dispose of the waste responsibly. This program is being implemented by me and my team through a program named as Well Being Out of Waste and ITC initiative being executed by its implementing partner E Sree Foundation.

The Embrace

Time always takes care of many things for us in the same way our persistence leads us to believe in ourselves and in the RWAs. A series of coordination get-togethers enabled us to build trust amongst the associations and its residents that this team was here to do something and why not give them a chance and see how they perform. The associations were putting me and my team to test in the real sense. We were up for the challenge.

Thus the handholding was initiated and slowly we could get closer on the program activities, participation from the residents’ welfare associations enlarged, the motivation exercise to the residents increased and the program was clutching onto the people and they realized that this was a positive step to make our lives healthier and create a clean environment. So, the thought of Why Not? It started spreading across the colonies and the city.

I still had challenges with some people resisting the cause, but we increased the coordination, cooperation and handholding wherein the scope of getting out of the clutches was not possible. This was all for a cause and which was absorbed to a large extent.

The fastening

The hold of the residents’ welfare associations eased our efforts and we have become more confident about the program sustainability. In light of this we are being invited by various RWAs across the NCR region. We have now tried to consolidate in areas we are working and build a network of the RWAs wherein positive learnings and challenges are being shared and solutions provided by like-minded positive members. These groups have members from different walks of life and various geographical boundaries.

It is appropriate to provide the example of a few RWAs from South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) Area and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) Area. These RWAs have traveled that extra mile by thinking out-of-the-box and making efforts to see that as a RWA and as citizens we can contribute and contribute positively in partnership with NGOs, Government Agencies and Community Based Organisations.

It is right to mention that colonies like Navjeevan Vihar (a South Delhi elite Colony) has created a benchmark in creating a zero-waste generating colony. Followed by other elite colonies like Sarvapriya Vihar, Sarvodaya Enclave, etc. the influence these South Delhi colonies have created has evinced interest in other colonies across the NCR to come down to see the colony and discuss with the RWA on how they could achieve this miracle. It was one person that took the charge and all followed suit in all these three colonies, I call them the Three Musketeers in the Nari Shakti Form (a female divine force). Following suit, a group of three women (again nari shakti) from Sunder Nagar (non-RWA members) have taken it upon themselves to address this challenge of source segregation of waste at the household level and ensure they challenge the other colonies in becoming a zero-waste generating colony in the near future. They have almost reached; they will achieve this target in the weeks to come.

In continuation of this Sangli Apartments (a NDMC defence officers’ apartments) wherein one person (this time it is a man) again took up the challenge and has created a wet waste composting model for Delhi to see. We have people across the NCR visiting to understand that such an exercise and inside a closed apartment place without any dirt or bad odour. It comes as a surprise to all when we speak about it, but when they actually see and feel the organic waste converted to organic manure, their eyes get lightened up.

The success

I believe that the stigma of an RWA being non-responsive and many such things have gone out of the window now. If the RWAs make up their mind then everything can happen and all goodwill happens. Earnestly all citizens should stand up with their RWAs, a few should put up their hands, like in Sunder Nagar and take up the challenges of the colony and start working towards doing rather than preaching. Like I always emphasize, The Time To Preach Is Over, It Time To Do And The Right Time Is Now Or Never.

It is true that once the RWAs pull up its socks then the municipal bodies and other government agencies will definitely go that extra mile to support and engage with you as a team. The support from both SDMC and NDMC has been unprecedented and we are all hopeful this will continue and our program will be sustainable to provide our progeny a better place to live.

The acknowledgment: I as a member of this program and my team of the ITC WOW E Sree foundation Team Delhi are extremely privileged to be participating with these great individuals and increase our learning curve in terms of community engagement and participation in the true sense which has been feeling while scanning books and or viewing documentaries. Good luck to all and salutations to all engaged in this endeavour.

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New Delhi MP, Meenakshi Lekhi distributed Bio-degradable & Plastic Free Sanitary Pads to 200 lesser privileged women & girl children

ONGC sponsored NGO Karamsakhi & Navjiwan RWA organized a Plastic-Free Event

Navjiwan RWA & Residents contribute and carry forward to 1-year free provision of Plastic-Free Sanitary napkins to more than 130 lesser privileged women & girl children

 

12th November 2019, New Delhi: As another new initiative towards Plastic-Free-India movement in her New Delhi constituency, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Mrs. Meenakshi Lekhi; on the auspicious eve of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurpurab, distributed biodegradable Sanitary pads and bags to 200 economically weaker women and girl children, in a programme jointly organized by Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) sponsored NGO Karamsakhi and Navjiwan RWA at Navjeevan Vihar, New Delhi.

While addressing the gathering, she said, “Right team and good people make it happen good things. When you want to do the right things, you will find ways.”

In her effort to describe plastic pollution lucidly before the gathering, she elaborated that 15 – 20 years ago, the use of plastic was not so bad. Within these last 2 decades, plastic has become over-utilized. Plastic does not degrade even up to 600 years. Due to the wrath of plastic pollution soil microbes and bacteria cannot degrade the plastic, which leads to worsening soil fertility. She further explained that plastic is imported from China, which strengthens its economy and weakens India’s environment and health.

It is noteworthy that according to a report the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI) has approximated that there are 336 million menstruating women in India, of which 36 percent use disposable sanitary napkins — that total to 121 million women. The number of sanitary napkins used per menstrual cycle — at a conservative eight-plus that for the year, implies that India has 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to take care of every year, the majority of which are not biodegradable nor compostable.

The MP said that in the market the sanitary pads available are based on single-use plastic and polymers, although they look like cotton. She expressed confidence that when so many big changes are happening in India, Plastic-free India is also very much possible. She said that it is easy to bring results in an enlightened and aware society. Then it must be carried forward to neighbouring ones and other parts of the nation.

While congratulating Ms. Smriti Gupta and Mr. Sundeep Chadha, who represented the NGO Karamsakhi, Navjiwan RWA President, Mr. Vinay Bhasin, and Dr. Ruby Makhija, Secretary, Navjiwan RWA, who spearheaded the entire event; she expressed her confidence that many other societies in India will be inspired by this good deed of Navjiwan RWA. Mrs. Lekhi lauded that Navjiwan RWA and the residents of Navjeevan Vihar, through their own funding are carrying forward the movement for a complete 1-year to provide free-of-cost Plastic-Free Sanitary napkins to more than 130 lesser privileged women & girl children. “By doing so, they have exhibited community ownership, which needs to be adopted by every individual”, she said.

Social Activist, Mr. Rajesh Verma’s initiatives to install Automatic Vending Machine that could dispense low cost, biodegradable sanitary pads with the help of the Lioness Club was also appreciated by the MP. The machine is being installed in the market area of Navjeevan Vihar.

Dr. Nandini Sharma, Councilor, SDMC was also present in the progamme.

A langar was also organized for more than 500 people and it was totally a plastic-free event. Most of the utensils were steel-make. All non-plastic utensils were provided by Community Crockery Bank.

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