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Top 9 Priorities That The New Environment Ministry Should Have

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By Medha Roy Chowdhury:

Amidst rising questions of whether or not Indian politics and politicians shall wake up to the severity of environmental restoration, the sorry state of the nation is indeed alarming. With dwindling resources, the fragile ecosystem is confronting threats of degradation. The issues that the new Indian Environmental Ministry has to grapple with each day, are emerging every bit urgent and critical with exponential growth of the pressurising population and economy.

environment

1. Holding out hope for the majestic Tiger: Roaring for help, Tigers have gained mainstream attention and why not? Poachers have become tech-savvy with developed equipments thereby making the lackadaisically managed Tiger reserves, easy targets. Campaigns for advertisement and awareness need to receive centre-stage attention. A definitive approach of the Environment Ministry should be the prevention of rampant poaching in order to save this species which is at the verge of extinction.

2. Perils of the invisible gas: It is a choking existence owing to the filthy quality of our atmosphere. With the Taj Mahal being a victim of Marble Cancer, corrosive effects of polluted automobile emissions shapes the requirement for refinement and specific treatment of gaseous exhaust given out by the industries. Need for minimising the formation of pollutants is screaming for attention.

3. Clean water revolution: Though it falls under the care-taking of the Water ministry, safeguarding the clean water agenda needs utmost care and implementation. Aquifers and ground water resources have been depleted so as to fuel the industries with need for water, thereby leading to water crises in most areas. Industrial discharge is the chief source of exploitation. The upsetting issue of dearth of adequate water for irrigational, household and drinking purposes should be curbed by watershed management and water harvesting. Prevention of indiscriminate dumping of untreated discharge of industrial wastes into water bodies is the need of the hour. Oil spills in coastal areas result in death of billions of fish and other marine organisms.Comprehensive supportive measures need to be meted out to the marine and coastal ecosystems. The increasing seriousness for water management needs to be acknowledged and effectively acted upon.

4. Call of the wild: The burning issue of protection for the Rhinoceros population is a matter of immediate concern. Protection of the endangered, vulnerable, rare and endemic species is broadly termed as wildlife conservation. The natural parks, sanctuaries and biosphere reserves demand provisions for conservation of biological diversity. Among national parks, Sunderbans (West Bengal), Dhudva (Uttar Pradesh), Jim Corbett and Tadoba (Maharashtra), gain importance. Conservation and maintenance projects of the Gir Lion, Crocodile, and Elephant are a compounding result of the preservation of diverse fauna.

5. Mother earth and her protest: Industrial effluents, domestic residues and discharges from thermal power plants before being deposited in the soil should be refined so as to prevent contamination and deterioration of the agro economy. Accumulation of non-biodegradable wastes, alteration of chemical content of soil, and modification of soil owing to venomous chemicals are the dominant problems. Judicious usage of pesticides and insecticides need to be instilled in the minds of farmers as India is heavily dependent on agricultural produce.

6. The climatic variations witnessed all across the country should be monitored and subsequently regulated so as to prevent floods and droughts that disrupt the ecological well-being besides posing a risk to the human life. Rajasthan battles chronic shortage of water resources whereas mismanagement of dams and water bodies leads to inundation of parts of various states. Both tremendously lethal to the soil, natural habitat of organisms, and humans; they rudely disrupt the ecological balance.

7. Not so verdant anymore: Stripped off the green cover, land is being deforested at a rapid pace. Majorly for commercial, industrial or residential purposes, trees are being felled mercilessly. It is about time that the clamour for greenery was paid heed to instead of succumbing to the high-rising electronic, wired jungle of steel and glass. Encroachment into forest areas manifests into grim scenarios of soil degradation. Trees have countless benefits and the planting of more is crucial to a healthy state of the air, soil, water, as well as welfare of the wildlife and human population. Reclamation of infertile land is a must.

8. Danger of the decay-proof plastic: A massive issue, plastics, demand for a resolute Government intervention. Banning of plastic bags and replacement of recyclable or eco-friendly paper bags is an answer to the crushing issues that are yielded by non-biodegradable wastes in India. Biochemical hazardous waste, phenols, and suspended solids should be included in the treatment of industrial waste before disposal.

9. Time for some disaster management: Energy crisis in the urban and rural areas need to be addressed. Energy in affordable forms and requisite quantities is indispensable for economic development. Actions to counteract environmental mishaps such as earthquakes, flood, famine, dam failure, Tsunamis, should be speedy, involving preparedness and fast recovery.

Responsible governance with the maximum potential for sustenance of the environment besides its economic security, calls for immediate and grave attention. Violation of environmental sanctity with innumerable factories spewing toxic fumes and detrimental chemical discharges, poses a challenge of mounting concern. Efforts should be underway so as to curtail the dire repercussions of environmental contamination. Investment of capital on government projects of environment preservation should be streamlined for better results. Support for NGOs with the outlook for environmental stability should be essential besides monetary grants being offered to them. Maximising outputs by keeping in mind sustainable development is a challenge for the new beginning. From the fresh Ministry, let’s hope for a better prospect for environmental safety!

Photo Credit: romana klee via Compfight cc

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    good job in awareness about environment.
    but we need to implement the ideas to save the environment.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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