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8 Ways Your Roof Can Help Tackle Delhi’s Pollution

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By Diptanu Chaudhuri:

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We can fight air pollution in Delhi by introducing rooftop plantation all over the capital. This will help us to create a fresh, pollution-free environment especially in cities over polluted and gasping cities like the national capital. In fact, I feel the law should make such environmental gestures like rooftop plantation mandatory in Indian cities.

Birds, butterflies and various insects perish as their natural habitat dwindles rapidly. Rooftop plantation will bring back such natural beauty which is no longer seen in the polluted cities of the world.

For example, Tulsi has tremendous environmental benefits as it purifies the air around it. Tulsi gives out oxygen for 20 hours and ozone for four hours a day along with the formation of nascent oxygen which absorbs harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide from the environment.

According to the Indian government, 80 people die every day from air pollution in Delhi. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar disclosed the alarming figure in a written response in the Rajya Sabha. Delhi has turned into a pollution zone so deadly that children in the capital have the lungs of ‘chain-smokers‘, and suffer all the associated respiratory ailments. Living and breathing in Delhi is taking years off their lives, and marking what is left with bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, coughs, colds and all kinds of chest and throat infections.

With a relentless increase in the number of children and infants developing respiratory diseases, doctors have raised an alarm in the capital. Almost all agree that the number of children who need medical attention as a direct result of the capital’s polluted air has risen three times as much in the last decade. The worsening air pollution in the capital has become the primary killer of infants and is slowing poisoning them with every passing day. Not only is the toxic air responsible for the various respiratory diseases that children are developing, but it is also shortening their life span.

Also, acid rain, caused by dioxides in the air, increases the acidity of the soil, kills vegetation, and depletes fish and amphibian populations by acidifying freshwater and the oceans. This impacts the animals that are dependent and thrive on vegetation, fishes and amphibian. Which in turn further intensifies the impact of pollution on the entire food chain.

It is not just for natural beauty but for our very survival that green roofs must be encouraged. Here are some of the benefits that such a pro-environment practice will create:

1. Reduce heating: A 2005 study by Brad Bass of the University of Toronto showed that green roofs can reduce heat loss and energy consumption in winter conditions.

2. Reduces cooling loads on a building by fifty to ninety percent: Especially if it is glassed in so as to act as a terrarium and passive solar heat reservoir – a concentration of green roofs in an urban area can even reduce the city’s average temperatures during the summer. A study presented at the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Conference in June 2004, cited by the EPA, also found that water runoff was reduced by over 75% during rainstorms.

3. Natural Habitat Creation: Green roofs will create the much-needed space for Delhi’s dwindling bird and insect population to revive again. What’s even better, you’ll have butterflies on your roof.

4. Filters pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air which helps lower disease rates such as asthma.

5. Helps filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater.

6. Helps to insulate a building for sound; the soil contributes to blocking lower frequencies while the plants check higher frequencies.

7. Increase agricultural space: With green roofs, water is stored by the substrate and then taken up by the plants from where it is returned to the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation.

8. Green roofs not only retain rainwater but also moderate the temperature of the water and act as natural filters for any of the water that happens to run off. The government can provide free saplings and encourage rooftop plantation. It can be initiated in government schools, colleges and offices helping the masses inculcate such environmentally responsible gestures.

Maybe soon there’ll be more like this Kolkata taxi driver who has set up rooftop plantation in his own taxi. And maybe India will soon be like France where rooftop plantation has already been implemented as a law.

If Diptanu’s article piques your interest and you would like to read some more on rooftop gardening, here’s a quick suggestion:

A New Breed Of Entrepreneurs Are Cropping Up In Cities, Right On Your Roof!

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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