CLEAN city, GREEN city

Nature lovers of Go Green Save Earth plant a sapling Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

They don’t call Thiruvananthapuram the evergreen city for nothing: tall trees, beautiful parks, beaches and wide open spaces. Over the last few years, though, the face of the city has changed thanks to concrete high-rises that tower over the trees. Piles of garbage mar its wide avenues and a lot of its greenery is facing the axe. Now citizens are fighting back. In a rare victory for greens, the members of Tree Walk, an informal group of tree lovers, and other nature enthusiasts, successfully campaigned to stop the felling of many trees at the historic Attakulangara Central High School. As we gear up to mark World Environment Day on June 5, MetroPlus checks out some city-based voluntary organisations that are working hands on to protect and conserve the environment.


USP: Garbage warriors

“We are very fastidious about keeping ourselves and our homes clean. Then, why are we not taking the responsibility to keep the environment clean?” ponders Sanjeev S.J., a ‘natural’ farmer from Peroorkada. That thought led him and Jennifer Nausch from Hamburg, Germany, to start Kerala-My Own Country, a green initiative, in December last year. Since then, the duo, partnering with school and college students, institutions, corporates, volunteers – locals and tourists – from all walks of life, have been clearing the city of garbage, one pile at a time. “They talk of Kerala as God’s Own Country. How can it be that if we don’t think of it as our own? Our aim is to get citizens to care for the environment like it is their own home,” adds Sanjeev.

They started off KMOC’s activities by clearing a 12-year-old garbage heap on Cantonment House Road, near PMG, taking care to “segregate waste through proper channels.” Presently, they’ve turned their attention to Shanghumughom beach, the beauty of which, they say, has been marred by food and plastic waste, of late. In addition to hosting regular clean-up drives in the area, KMOC holds awareness sessions for street vendors on the beach. “They are the ones who can actually contain the garbage at source. As they are not an organised sector, it’s pretty much each one for his/her own and we have to go to each vendor to educate them on proper waste management. We’ve also installed a specially-designed plastic collection box on the beach, which we clear regularly.” Contact: 9048490853


USP: Compost is money

Waste is resource. That is the working principle of Harithagramam, an NGO that is working towards a clean city, in association with the city Corporation. A collective of professionals, it began by taking forward the pipe compost project of the Corporation, in Peroorkada ward in 2015. When the project developed problems, they introduced kitchen bins. Now, the Harithagramam volunteers a.k.a. green technicians, provide each house with one bin, two UV coated plastic bags and Bioclean, a mix of processed coir pith and bacteria that converts the waste within six weeks to organic manure. You can use it in your vegetable garden or green technicians will collect it, says Sugathan Haridasan, one of the 15 directors of Harithagramam. The subscription fee is Rs. 200. In addition, the team collects cleaned plastic items every month, glass pieces, leather bags and chappals once in three months and e-waste once in six months from houses. 2,800 households in the city have joined the initiative so far. Residents associations can get in touch with Harithagramam at 7025977766, 7025977444.


USP: Let there be trees

Their idea is relatively simple: plant trees for a better future for mankind and for the earth. GGSE was started on Earth Day in 2013 by 16 young nature lovers, mostly techies in Technopark, scientists from the Vikram Sarabhai Space centre and others who work/live nearby. “We all go for treks into the forest together and wanted to bring some of that fresh air and greenery back to the city. Much of the city’s tree cover has diminished due to development and construction and we plan to rectify it by planting trees, distributing seeds, conducting environment protection awareness campaigns in schools and colleges and promoting the use of green products,” says Ashok Kurian Panjikaran, one of the group’s founder members, who works at Kerala Start-up Mission. The self-help group now has over 500 members and at the moment most of their activities are centred on Technopark and those schools and institutions nearby. To date they have distributed some 5,200 saplings of medicinal and native trees such as neem, teak, anjil, sandalwood, guava and so on. “Inside Technopark itself we have planted some 600 plus saplings of which 250 have actually taken root. We are planning to plant more fruit bearing trees on campus,” says Ashok. Their signature project is ‘gift a sapling,’ which encourages individuals and corporates to plant trees to mark important dates and milestones. “You can register online at our website,, make a one-time payment of Rs 100 and GGSE will plant a tree on your behalf in Technopark or Kazhakoottam. The money is towards the conservation and maintenance of the plant,” adds the youngster. Contact: 944713627

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 6:30:51 AM |

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