Tuesday, March 26, 2019

My City My Responsibility - National Conference on Urban Sustainability 2019

Dear All,

Poster for the workshop

I am glad to announce that we at Samuchit Enviro Tech have organized a Nationwide Conference on Urban Sustainability in collaboration with LAYA and INECC on the 27th April, 2019 in Yashada, Baner.  

The whole idea of undertaking a national conference is to connect/share happenings in the context of Urban Sustainability across different states of India as well as from different cities in Maharashtra. Its all about sharing knowledge, learnings and connecting to the global Sustainable Development Goals, smart city initiatives and citizens engagements undertaken on ground.

We believe that citizens are the critical stakeholders of the city and informing or sensitizing them on global issues is the need of the day. In addition to citizens embracing sustainable and responsible behaviour, we also want to encourage citizens to form pressure groups and impact policy decisions, which will promote local actions that lead to global solutions.

From this perspective, the one day conference will include inputs from various experts and practitioners. In addition, we are also calling for papers based on original research or outreach work broadly fitting into the conference objectives but focused on the following thematic areas. 
  • Housing for all in urban context
  • Safe and affordable Transport within cities
  • Cultural and Natural Heritage in urban setting
  • Citizens Participation in Governance of cities
  • Disaster risk Mitigation for cities
  • Solid and Liquid Waste management and Air Pollution in cities
  • Access to safe green open spaces in cities
  • Operationalizing SDG 11 for urban sustainability in India
  • Sustainability education in urban context
Please submit abstracts of maximum 200 words, this will go through a review process where papers will be selected for oral or poster presentations. The last date for submission of abstracts is 31st March, 2019. 

Urban citizens, organisations, institutions, professionals, government officials etc. all are invited to participate in the meeting and contribute to the interactions, irrespective of whether you are presenting a paper or not! The conference will be focused on interactions rather than talks and lectures. 

We also invite NGOs and social enterprises in Pune to participate in the Exhibition for Sustainable products display or sale which will be organised as a part of the conference as a side event!!!

Please click on this link to register in our Conference and kindly share it in your contacts. And do send in your abstract at the earliest! 

Pournima Agarkar. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Role of Transportation for all

Dear All, 

Transport under SDGs
Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Last week we saw actionable points on Housing, below are the points from Sustainable Transport perspective as guidelines at individual, community and governance level. 

Kindly note that we all are facing impacts of increasing air pollution, rapidly changing climate and urbanization. Provision of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable transport will definitely play a major role in lowering the emissions generated substantially due to transport. This will help in mitigating the impacts at local as well as global level. All we need is individual as well collective actions at all levels. 

Individual level

  • Analyse or consider if there is a need to buy a new vehicle. 
  • Adhere to basic traffic rules and speed limits.
  • Ensure your protection by using required safety gears.
  • Ensure timely and proper maintenance of your vehicle in order to ensure better fuel efficiency. 
  • Understand the importance of PUC norms, and ensure that your vehicle emissions are within the norms. 
  • Ask for information on PUC norms and its importance. 
  • Practice lane discipline. 
  • Make way for ambulance and differently-abled persons riding on the road. 
  • Use public transport where ever possible and ask for better public transport.
  • Respect the job done by bus drivers and try to cooperate with them. 
  • Check the feasibility of shared transport like car pooling. 
  • Check the feasibility of using cycles or walking (not more than 1km) for short distances instead of using your two wheeler.  
Community Level
  • Lets advocate for efficient and safe infrastructure for public transport system and non motorized transport like cycling and walking. 
  • Lets advocate for better roads and technically designed speed breakers. 
  • Lets advocate for CNG or clean fuel based vehicular systems. 
  • We can promote E-vehicles once the electricity is being generated from a renewable source. Advocating for E-vehicles currently is costlier and not very sustainable since coal is the source of our electricity generation. 
  • Lets advocate for car free zones and affordable last mile connectivity like CNG auto rickshaws or rental cycles or mini buses provision at every 500 m instead of using private vehicles. 
  • Lets advocate for travel time from one place to other in a city to be max. 40 mins considering crowded areas. 
Public transport in Pune
Governance/Policy Level
  • Enforce strict penalties for disobedience of traffic laws for all, irrespective of financial or social status.
  • Consider differently abled, pregnant women, children and senior citizens while designing modes of transport. 
  • Ensure accessibility and affordability for all. 
  • Implement comprehensive mobility plans and Parking policy defined by local organizations. 
  • Roads should be designed considering safety of all stakeholders like street vendors, hawkers, cyclists and walkers by providing better lighting system or security forces wherever required. 
  • Regular maintenance of roads ensure safety of the commuters.  
  • While constructing a flyover, take the feedback of local organizations working towards making traffic management better in the city.  
  • Involve active citizens if required for ensuring there is no traffic congestion.
  • Collaborate and work in coordination with the local organizations working in for ensuring there is no traffic congestion. 
  • Strategize mechanisms for tie-ups with local organizations, NGOs, communities and corporate sectors for making transport in the city sustainable. 
  • All the para-transit modes of transport should be enhanced to CNG and considered into the main stream of transportation . 
  • Employees that work directly for providing transit services should be provided with proper medical care and employee benefits. 

These are some inputs given by 200 odd people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter for Transport a better Action Agenda. 
Email me at pournima@samuchit.com OR like, share and comment on our FB page  @ https://www.facebook.com/SustainableCityPune/

Pournima Agarkar.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Role of Housing for All

Dear All, 
Housing under SDG

Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage both Cultural and Natural, Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and lastly Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. 

On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all. So today I am going to share actionable points under the issue of Housing. 

Just a background on why Housing for All is an illusion. Today we have many upcoming residential construction schemes in the city and simultaneously we are also seeing upcoming slums in the city. The whole issue under 'Housing for All' does not really consider providing shelter for the slums and the lower income strata of the society. In fact, upcoming housing schemes focus on middle and higher income groups who often buy new houses just as future investment. While the ones who are in need of affordable and accessible housing are rendered in substandard settlements. 

This is in a way adding enormous pressure on the city for its resources, management and overall sustainability. We thought of drafting the actions at an individual level, Community level and Government level based on the citizens inputs on this matter. 

Individual Level
  • Consider if there is a need to buy a new house. 
  • If yes, check that the house that you will be buying adheres to required certifications for safety, waste management, wastewater treatment etc. 
  • Environmental Clearance or an NOC from the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MOEFCC) is mandatory today for any new construction. As a vigilant citizen of the city, you should ask for the same and check that environmental services are in place in accordance of certificate. 
  • Especially the water supply, drainage connection, rainwater harvesting mechanisms, fire safety measures and waste management systems are in place. 

Community Level
  • If there are any slums around your residence, think before considering these as a nuisance. Most likely the maid in your house, the handyman around your building complex, etc., come from the same locality. As a community lets advocate for provision of better basic facilities for them like adequate water supply, better waste collection system, electricity supply, drainage connection and medical help through a participatory planning process.
  • Let's advocate for ensuring that they get appropriate help in case of disasters or emergencies. 
  • Let's advocate for better housing for them that are disaster resilient and based on green building concepts.
  • Majority of political parties look at slums only as their vote bank, but as a community the entire neighborhood needs to exert political pressure to ensure better facilities for the slums. This will also ensure better hygiene and air and water quality in the entire locality. 

Government Level
  • Livelihoods of the urban poor are typically in the neighborhood of the slums. Therefore the slum rehabilitation must happen on the same location, rather than displacing the slum dwellers to some remote locations. 
  • Under Housing for All it is important to consider the slums and low income groups from affordability, safety, facilities/services perspective that are also essential in keeping the city as a whole clean and livable.  
  • Considering access to the differently-abled in planning housing schemes for the low income groups is crucial. 
  • Subsidy can be provided to the Economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society for buying houses with tax benefits to the developers for providing such housing. 
  • Housing audit where houses are examined from safety and disaster resilience perspective should be considered. 
  • Green building materials are important from the perspective of efficient resource use and low carbon footprint. Use of such materials should be encouraged and research in this field should be funded. 

These inputs are given by some 200 odd people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter for Housing a better action agenda. Email me at pournima@samuchit.com OR visit our FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SustainableCityPune/

Pournima Agarkar. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


अपोलो ८ या नासाच्या चांद्रयानाने काढलेलं हे पृथ्वीचं छायाचित्र १९६८ साली प्रसिध्द झालं, आणि लोकांना अचानक पृथ्वीवासी असण्याचं महत्त्व जाणवलं. १९७०च्या दशकात पर्यावरण चळवळींना चालना मिळण्यामागे हे छायाचित्र हे एक महत्त्वाचं प्रेरणास्थान होतं. 

पर्यावरण की विकास, विकास की पर्यावरण, अशा प्रकारचे वाद अधून मधून डोकं वर काढतच असतात. पण मला वाटतं, हा वाद पर्यावरण की विकास असा नसतोच खरंतर. कारण पर्यावरण आणि विकास तुल्यबळ असतील, तर वादाला काहीतरी अर्थ आहे. मानवी जीवनाला अनुकूल पर्यावरण रहाणार नसेल, तर कोणत्याच तथाकथित विकासाला काही अर्थ रहाणार नसतो. त्यामुळे ज्या वादाला पर्यावरण विरुध्द विकास असं नाव दिलं जातं, तो बहुतेकवेळा सर्व माणसांचा सार्वकालिक विकास विरुध्द माझा तात्कालिक विकास असा वाद असतो.

एक साधं उदाहरण देते. मला माझ्या इच्छित आरंभस्थानापासून माझ्या इच्छित अंतिमस्थानापर्यंत माझ्या वाहनातून कमीत कमी वेळात, कमीत कमी खर्चात, व कमीत कमी कष्टात कसं जायचं, असा प्रश्न पडलेला असेल, तर मी कसा विचार करते? तर माझ्या प्रवासाच्या वेळेला माझ्या मार्गात असलेली वहातूक कोंडी कमीत कमी कशी होईल, मला प्रशस्त, मोकळा व रूंद रस्ता कसा मिळेल, या गोष्टी मला सर्वात महत्त्वाच्या वाटतात. माझ्या वाहनात एसी असल्यामुळे रस्त्यावर सावलीचा गारवा असणं-नसणं, चालणाऱ्यांना वगैरे आरामदायक वाटणं-न वाटणं, हे माझ्यासाठी गौण असतं. मला टेकडीला वळसा घालून जावं लागतंय, यात माझं पेट्रोल आणि वेळ खर्च होतोय, हे मला खुपत असतं. मला फक्त त्या रस्त्यावरून झूममम जायचंय, मग रस्त्याच्या कडेला दुकानं, फेरीवाले, विक्रेते यांच्या व्यवसायासाठी जागा आहे की नाही, किंवा तिथे रहाणाऱ्या लोकांना एकत्र येता येईल अशा मोकळ्या सार्वजनिक जागा आहेत का नाहीत, याच्याशी तर मला अजिबातच देणंघेणं नसतं. मग मला झाडं तोडून रस्ता रुंदीकरण, उड्डाणपूल, टेकडी फोडून बोगदे, इ. पर्याय आकर्षकच नाही तर तर्कशुध्द वाटू लागतात. पूर्वीच्या अनुभवातून मला हेही माहित असतं की हे सगळे उपाय केल्यानंतर मिळणारं सुख फार फार तर दोन-चार वर्षंच टिकेल, कारण इतर रस्त्यांवरची गर्दी या रस्त्यावर ओसंडून पुन्हा वहातूक कोंडी व्हायला लागेल. पण पुढचं पुढे, माझा आत्ताचा तर प्रश्न सुटेल, असा मी विचार करते. कोण जाणे, कदाचित आणखी दोन वर्षांनी मी वेगळ्या ठिकाणच्या वातानुकुलित काचेच्या इमारतीत चाकरी धरलेली असेल, किंवा मी शहराच्या आणखी उच्चभ्रू भागात घर घेतलेलं असेल, मग या रस्त्याशी माझा संबंधच रहाणार नाही, असाही कदाचित मी विचार केलेला असू शकतो.

पण समजा माझ्या मनात थोडा वेगळा प्रश्न आहे. मला असं वाटतंय की पुणे शहरात रहाणाऱ्या कोणत्याही व्यक्तीला आपापल्या इच्छित आरंभस्थानापासून इच्छित अंतिमस्थानापर्यंत कमीत कमी खर्चात, कमीत कमी वेळेत, आणि कमीत कमी कष्टात जाता आलं पाहिजे. आणि हे केवळ आत्ताच नाही, तर कायमस्वरूपी घडावं अशीही माझी इच्छा असेल, तर मी कसा विचार करीन? मग माझ्या चटकन लक्षात येईल की, सार्वत्रिक व सार्वकालिक असा एकमेव उपाय म्हणजे शास्त्रीय दृष्ट्‍या शहरातील सध्याच्या चलनवलनाचा आणि भविष्यातील संभाव्य बदलांच्या शक्यतांचा अभ्यास करून तयार केलेला आराखडा, आणि त्याची शास्त्रशुध्द व तंत्रशु्ध्द अंमलबजावणी. यामध्ये रस्त्यांवर पादचारी, स्वचलित वाहने, विविध प्रकारच्या सार्वजनिक वाहनांचे परस्परपूरक जाळे यांना प्राधान्य असेल. रस्त्याचे जे इतर वापर माणसे करत असतात - उदा. व्यवसायाच्या व विपणनाच्या जागा म्हणून - त्यांचाही सहानुभूतीपूर्वक विचार केलेला असेल. खाजगी गाडी रस्त्यावर आणावी लागणार नाही, आणि तरीही कोणाचीही गैरसोय होणार नाही, अशी वाहतूक व्यवस्था माझा आणि सर्व समाजाचा सर्वाधिक फायदा करून देणारी असेल, या निष्कर्षाला मी येऊन पोहोचेन.

आपल्या मनातला नेमका विचार काय आहे, हे आपण प्रत्येकाने आत्मपरीक्षण करून पहावे. सर्वांनी सर्व काळ सर्व समाजाचा विचार केला पाहिजे, स्वार्थीपणा वाईट, इ. असा काहीही उपदेश मला करायचा नाही. शेवटी माझं भलं मी नाही पाहिलं, तर दुसरं कोण पहाणार आहे, हे मला पूर्णपणे पटतं. माझा मुद्दा इतकाच आहे, की दोन प्रकारच्या मानवी स्वार्थांमधल्या या आणि अशा प्रकारच्या इतर वादांत कोणती बाजू घ्यावी, हे ज्याने त्याने स्वतःच्या सदसद्विवेकबुध्दीच्या आधारे ठरवावे.

प्रियदर्शिनी कर्वे
समुचित एन्व्हायरो टेक


Samuchit Enviro Tech.     samuchit@samuchit.com     www.samuchit.com 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Biogas technology for all by VAAYU

Dear All,

Picture collage

Under the Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune initiative as mentioned in my earlier blog we are showcasing local sustainable technologies that can be adopted by anyone who yearns for a Sustainable lifestyle. 

In the last week on 28th Feb, we successfully conducted a workshop in collaboration with Vaayu Mitra who deals with household Biogas technology by conversion of kitchen waste to fuel. Priyadarshan Sahasrabuddhe the promoter of this technology is an enthusiastic engineer who has been driving this initiative to go LPG free by using household organic waste. There are almost 130 installations till date that are converting about 1 ton of food waste per day. Right from school going children to aged senior citizens can easily operate this technology. It has been installed in more than 10 cities now. 

We got an overwhelming response to the workshop held in Indradhanushya centre for Citizenship and Environment Education and that too on a weekday evening. It just shows that Pune is slowly moving towards a Sustainable City which is the aim of our project on Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune.

I would like to narrate some key aspects of the workshop that fascinated me.

I briefly tried to explain the relevance of this workshop to our study that we have been doing on making the city Sustainably SMART through Citizens active participation and engagement. We are playing a role of a connector between the citizens and Sustainable solution providers. Our idea is to reach out to more and more people with sustainable solutions in order to enable them towards sustainability and in turn making the city Sustainable.

Then, Priyadarshan Sahasraddhe, introduced the technology and its working with the help of a diagram and narrated his journey which was quite a struggle to apply engineering fundas on ground. He mentioned that meeting Dr Anand Karve and working under his guidance for developing the biogas technology helped him learn key lessons. Apart from this he believes in 'Small is beautiful' and linking it to Individual Social Responsibility (ISR) has been his idea of a Green Investor.

We were fortunate to have Dr Anand Karve in the workshop, being a botanist and an innovator having a scientific aptitude, he explained the basics behind the functioning of Biogas very well. Though he is not a microbiologist, I have never heard anyone talk about microbes and bacteria so well as he does. He is a pro bacteria man I can say. How do bacteria's function and what they need he knows very well. He always talks about sugar as the main source of food for bacteria and how efficient they can work once they get their dose of sugar, is something that has been one of his successful findings.

As mentioned earlier, school students are operating this plant at their school and are saving quite a lot of energy in the school. Two active and very responsible students of Jnana Probodini school Chinchwad explained how the model is not just a project of the school, but their friend whom they take care by giving timely input of food and in turn it gives them energy, manure and lots of lessons. I feel that schools having such LIVE and active projects managed by students themselves, not only make them better humans but also better role models of Sustainable lifestyles. Listening to them gave a new hope for the future generations and a Sustainable human society that coexists in harmony with its surrounding.

We also had SWACH representatives here who shared their experience of using Vaayu. The confidence they gained, showed how empowered they feel by using this technology and running it as a self sustainable model for organic waste management.

Then a group of Vaayu mitras, people who are using Vaayu at their homes daily, came up and shared their experience. Each Vaayu mitra is happy to have the Biogas in their house. They explained that there is a trial and testing phase with Vaayu, but once we get familiar with its behavior, it becomes a member of the family playing a crucial role and making us feel proud that we not only manage our organic waste but also generate our own fuel. 

One of the Vaayu mitra, a lady named Mamta, working on a farm and operating three Biogas plants needs a special mention. I liked her way of expressing her experience she was absolutely natural. She rightly mentioned that there is no waste in nature, even the leftover food has potential to generate energy if utilized appropriately. She clearly stated that if such installations of Biogas are available in the village through BachatGat schemes then the women in the village using smoke generating fuelwood that causes harmful impacts on their health as well as the forest will be healthy and smoke free. Though she is smoke free now because of Vaayu, she yearns that her fellow beings in the village should also get relief from the smoke. When we talk about Sustainable technologies they should be based on a win-win approach and her speech truly reflected it. Hats off to her!!!

Listening to all of their experiences and knowledge they have gained, it simply showed that how each one feels socially responsible and are happy to contribute their bit for the society. Dr Javdekar one of the senior most member using Vaayu stressed that how economically it is viable in his house where their yearly quota of LPG cylinders has been reduced drastically.

I wondered if generating fuel at source may be hazardous, however the plant is completely safe to be used at a household level expressed each and every Vaayu mitra. However space is something that is required for setting up a considerable capacity of Vaayu to make it viable. Nevertheless its worth an investment, may be at a society level, if not feasible at a household level, for ensuring sustainable management of organic waste.

Dr Priyadarshini Karve concluded the session where she stressed on the Citizens role in making a city Sustainable and how such local solutions are the key to resolve the global problems.

I am glad that we have video documented the entire workshop, the video will be available soon for all. Meanwhile if anyone wants to know more about Vaayu, please feel free to contact Priyadarshan S at priyadarshan.21@gmail.com

Pournima Agarkar.