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Updated: February 6, 2012 17:17 IST

The crusade for a waste-free Ooty

Amutha Kannan
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WITH A MISSION: Harshita Mehta. Photo: K. Ananthan.
The Hindu WITH A MISSION: Harshita Mehta. Photo: K. Ananthan.

Harshita Mehta, an International Climate Champion, is working on solid waste management in hotels in the Nilgiris.

“There is only one earth. We are depleting it without giving back anything. It is time we started protecting it,” says Harshita Mehta.

A third-year student of the Department of Energy and Environmental Engineering, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), she does not stop with mere talk.

A resident of Udhagamandalam, Harshita has always been oriented towards the environment. And, when a chance came calling to do something concrete, she grabbed it with both hands. She has made a start by becoming an International Climate Champion (ICC).

International Climate Champions is a youth-oriented programme of the British Council, functioning in partnership with The Energy and Resources' Institute (TERI).

This is part of the global project ‘Climate Generation' which is delivered through a network of Climate Champions across the world. The programme is aimed at people in the age group of 18 and 23 years, who will in turn carry forward the message to leaders and those who influence society.

Harshita was among 17 to get selected from 400 Indian competitors. She is one of the five champions in Tamil Nadu. The other four are from institutions in Chennai.

Talking about the selection process, she says besides filling in the routine details, a video recording of a project proposal was also attached to the online application. After a final interview in Bangalore, Harshita got selected as an ICC and she is soon to start work on her project titled ‘Solid Waste Management in the Hotels in the Nilgiris.'

Following the selection, the ICCs from India were given a one-week orientation to get them inducted into the programme.

“Lack of solid waste management mechanism in the hotels in Udhagamandalam poses a grave threat to environment. There is no system of segregation and collection of waste. It is just dumped in open areas. This is because the hotel owners are not aware of the right options. Hence, my study will work on finding options and also convincing them in implementing the same,” says Harshita.

She plans to execute this with support from friends who have formed an eco-group in the university. A Project Manager from British Council will guide her project which will be reviewed at regular intervals.

She will also be working on other projects with fellow champions, besides attending national and international seminars and workshops. She is grateful to the university for giving her leave with attendance to pursue her passion for environment protection.

This is not all. She wants to carry forward her passion beyond the ICC and university degree. Armed with a postgraduate degree in solid waste management from a university abroad, Harshita wants to work full time on saving the planet by setting up a recycling plant in Udhagamandalam. With full support from her family, she believes that her efforts to give something back to the earth will bear fruit.

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