Environment

Towards a cleaner city

As the “Go Green” slogan gathers momentum, individuals, NGOs and the local administration introduce initiatives to encourage people to become environmentally more accountable

AWARA (2012)

“In order to get out of this ecological mess, every individual will have to contribute,” says Ajay Katragadda, a doctor and an environmental activist who founded the Amaravati Walkers and Runners’ Association (AWARA). What started as a group of runners who rid the Krishna river bed of tonnes of garbage, is today a front line environmental group collaborating with the local municipal authorities and the district Collector to make Vijayawada cleaner and greener.

In the last seven years, AWARA has been successful in stopping open defecation on the river bed and has slowed down the work of the sand mafia and drug peddlers who worked in this area. Ajay has also motivated many children in the surrounding localities to come into the AWARA fold. Some of them have been trained into prize-winning marathon runners.

After the official ban on use of plastic bags, Ajay and his team recycled used clothes like curtains, saris and shawls into bagsand distributed them, first among the association members themselves and then to school kids and others. To do it in a more organized way, the Association started an in-house self-help group (SHG) with five members initially, which later increased to 25 members. .

Reputed violinist Annavarapu Ramaswamy was the first donor of dozens of shawls presented to him in public felicitations. Taking the cue from him, former Chief Secretary to the government of Andhra Pradesh L. V. Subramanyam also gave away a large collection of shawls from his closet. “Small gestures like this can go a long way in making a difference,” says Ajay.

To keep itself carbon-neutral, AWARA only uses steel plates, glasses and spoons at its gatherings, during camps and at the running stations during running events. It also has a big collection of the cutlery and flatware that it lends out.“In the long run, we plan toencourage wedding parties and event organisers to borrow them for a nominal charge,” says Ajay.

Prayoj Foundation (2016)

Mani Polavarapu started Prayoj Foundation that championssustainable living.

Besides aggressive campaigns in support of keeping festivals eco-friendly,, the Prayoj team runs a campaign urging people to keep bowls of water on their windowsills or on the terrace walls to quench the thirst of our “feathered friends” in hot summer days. “We are so caught up with putting things together for our own comforts that we forget that our actions are causing misery to plants, birds and animals,” says Mani.

Collection of newspapers which are recycled into notebooks for distribution among poor kids in slums and government schools is another activity of the Foundation. Thanks to Prayoj, 120 students of the Urdu Primary School in Autonagar, that the Foundation has adopted, also learn about sustainable living in their daily learning process.

Paryavarana Parirakshana Samithi (2016)

Raghuram Maguluri of Bhoomi Organics also runs the NGO that campaigns for organic farming in and around the city. He organises ‘Organic Mahotsavs’ with the stakeholders and each year, the event is growing. The annual event creates a common platform for organic farmers, retailers, consumers seeking chemical-free food and all other stakeholders, enabling a conducive climate to comprehend how the organic food system operates. The hundreds of stalls put up include food courts that serve delicacies made with naturally grown ingredients.

“We now plan to start a Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) which will motivate, train and help farmers in organic farming,”he says . Registered farmers will be the stakeholders and will enjoy equal share in the annual profits. The market linkage and other factors will be taken care of by Paryavarana Parirakshana Samithi, the NGO run by Raghuram.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:39:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/towards-a-cleaner-city/article30427629.ece

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