On a day when President Pratibha Patil completed three years in office, Rashtrapati Bhavan was presented with an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001:2004 Certificate for having emerged as the country's first urban habitat with excellent environmental management systems.

A year after she assumed office, Ms. Patil initiated a project, “Roshni Programme,” which was aimed at making the President's Estate a plastic-free zone and pushed for introduction of energy-efficient practices.

President's appreciation

The ISO certificate from the Bureau Veritas India (BVI) that was presented to the President's Secretary, Christy Fernandez, on Sunday is in recognition of the practices adopted by the President's office and the residents of the estate in switching over to energy-efficient and best practices including water harvesting, solar energy and solid waste management.

The President appreciated the contribution of the staff and residents to make it a success. “But we must not be complacent, the project will be reviewed after three years and efforts should be made to continue with the work,” she said in her address.

Ms. Patil said changing people's mindsets and attitudes was the key to bringing about perceptible and sustainable change in their habitats. This, she said, was the key not only to tackling issues related to the environment, but also for the eradication of social evils.

She suggested that the Rashtrapati Bhavan prototype of environmental management systems be used as a model for the rest of the country.

“This can be used as a model to tell people what is achievable and without a separate budget allocation,” Ms. Patil said.

The estate has seen initiation of a host of energy-saving measures, including waste segregation and recycling programme, which involves self-help group of women.

The rain-water harvesting programme coupled with the concept of zero wastage of water has been a success too with the water levels showing improvement over the years.

An increase in green cover, tree census, protection of flora and fauna has also been undertaken and a mature trail spread over 75 acres has been developed to showcase its bio-diversity. Usage of plastic products and bags is discouraged and use of more eco-friendly products is being promoted. Energy-efficient electrical appliances have been promoted. Solar energy is being used and solar photovoltaic panels have been installed in the new auditorium, health centre and President's secretariat officers' institute. In addition, 100 solar streetlights have been installed in the estate. Solar-powered water heating devices are being installed in residences.

“As a result, in one year more than one lakh kw per hour of electricity consumption has been reduced, resulting in monetary savings of Rs. 6.50 lakh,” said a Rashtrapati Bhavan official.

A crèche has also been set up for the benefit of the children of the contractual labour and daily wage earners working in the estate.

Painting competition

The President gave away prizes to winners of a painting competition on environment organised at the Rashtrapati Bhavan recently.

Also present on the occasion were Union Minister of Urban Development Jaipal Reddy, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Tourism Kumari Selja, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

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