Friday, August 30, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Sustainable initiatives in and around Pune Part II

Dear All,

Poster  of the event at Kopargaon

Under the Yuvadrishti initiative of our partner NGO Laya, we published the Handbook on Carbon Neutral Campus in Pune in June 2019, as our collaborative initiative under Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC). Post this event, I was expecting that Pune being the education hub with all the education institutes will be taking up this challenge in order to go low carbon. But before any Pune based colleges, I received a call from Sanjivani Group of Institutes, Kopargaon for understanding the concept on Carbon neutral campuses since they intended to go low carbon as a campus. I was amazed that an institute situated in a rural setup has asked us to come all the way from Pune, Dr Karve too agreed and we were all set to go to Kopargaon.

Dr Priyadarshini Karve
With the flood situatuion happening in and around Maharashtra, we had to postpone our plans, nevertheless the management was keen on undertaking the session. Kapil Pawar the coordinator of the event was very helpful and efficient in all the planning. Finally we could undertake a session on Carbon Neutral Campus in the institute on the 6th August 2019 and it was a great learning experience for them as well as for us.

The day was structured to start with an introductory session on Climate Change for all the students, faculty members and the guests, followed by a more technical session to dive into the methodology of making campuses carbon neutral specifically for the faculty members. There were around 50 plus students and 20 faculty members. The introductory session was undertaken by Dr Priyadarshini Karve, where she spoke about climate change basics and its impacts and how India as a country is a victim as well as a contributor to the crisis! The best part was a lot of students were curious and interested to know more about climate change. After the session, a few students requested to stay for the next session as well.

The response was indeed good, the next session was supposed to be limited to faculty only but we had around 30 students as well. This session dealt with understanding the basics of carbon accounting and how to use the Carbon Neutral Campus Handbook. Then I conducted a Mentimeter poll to get an idea as to how many people would like to get into the accounting process and make their campus carbon neutral and I am glad we received an honest response. See the image below for the responses.

Mentimeter responses
We concluded the session well in time and could take a quick tour of the campus as well. We met the managing trustee Shri. Amit Kolhe,  a visionary who realized that its the educational institutions that should act as a role model for the students and the community in order to create a better society. In spite of his busy schedule, he found time to interact with us, and also sit in on the session for a while.  Under his able leadership, the Institutes have undertaken several initiatives that lead them to sustainability and low carbon.

The campus has an installation of a roof top solar system of 500 kwp that not only supplies solar energy to the entire campus but the surplus is supplied to the grid as well. I wondered how many academic institutions in the SMART city Pune have shown this level of commitment to renewable energy! 

Kopargaon being an arid zone, the institute is ensuring that all the available water and wastewater is used efficiently. For the same they are reusing and recycling the water through innovative ways on the campus itself. We were informed that while constructing the buildings and making the internal roads, extra care was taken to cause the least harm to the existing trees. All the internal roads are nicely shaded by large trees, mostly indigenous species. There has been sustained plantations being carried out by successive batches of students to create this oasis of green in an otherwise dry location. However we saw monoculture plantation of neem trees, so we suggested to plant a variety of species instead of single species which was well accepted by them. Every single appropriate step taken towards sustainability has a long term effective impact. 

Glimpses of the event

Special thanks to Kapil Pawar and Principal Dr Mirikar for making all the arrangements for us. Also glad to meet Ganesh Jorvekar for giving us the quick tour and explaining the various initiatives happening in the campus, like the Sustainability cell under which all such activities are undertaken. 

As I mentioned earlier I have been experiencing a sustainability immersive phase and I am amazed to learn about such initiatives happening around me.

Pournima Agarkar. 

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