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What Is Happening At Aarey Colony Is Nothing Short Of Ethnic Cleansing

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A recent report says that Aarey Colony, the green lungs of Mumbai city, will be reduced to just 14% of its current size as a part of development initiatives.

Would the upcoming educational campuses on Aarey land, such as national or state institutes of urban planning, management studies, etc, be able to teach students sustainable living, urban planning, environmental conservation, ethical industry practices, moral values and enhanced living on the land where ethnic cleansing of thousands of trees have taken place? Would the proposed health centres and sports complexes be able to imbibe a healthy lifestyle in the citizens at the cost of the pure oxygenated air that the green cover currently provides?

Would human infiltration by virtue of the proposed theme park further add to the encroachment of the remaining 232 hectares of green cover, and disturb the natural flora and fauna with sound pollution at odd hours? Would the green lifeline of Mumbai be garnished with waste accumulation and compromised sanitation? Why should the east-west road link and the bus transit system, that promise more intercity connectivity, not use underutilized areas available within the city and be developed only on this green space?

By losing the connectivity with nature, we can reach only one destination faster – death.

What is the purpose of development in any city or nation? Any and all development is aimed at improving the life satisfaction index of the population and thereby raising its happiness quotient. A nation is said to progress when its human resource has achieved optimum physical, mental and spiritual well being.

For the physical well-being, it is very important that human beings stay closer to nature. The human heart is designed to beat in rhythm with the rhymes of birds, our eyes are rejuvenated by beautiful flowers, our feet relax through walking on grass, and our entire body cheers with pure oxygenated air from the tress. Pure air from trees helps in increasing oxygen saturation, which leads to higher work output and enhanced productivity of human resources. Besides, by enhancing physical and mental health, nature contributes immensely towards spiritual growth.

Development does not constitute feeding the hedonism of the human resource of the country, which acts as an income generator for the government. Development does not mean increasing consumerism, which enables ROI (Return On Investment) on FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments). If the development of a city or a nation is not able to raise the happiness quotient of its population, it is futile. This explains why some of the most developed countries have high incidences of depression and mental illness. Happiness is possible only with sustainable development, where there is enhanced interaction between man and his source of existence – nature.

The proposed massacre of the Aarey Green Space will give way to large open space infrastructure modelled around New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. According to data from the World Health Organization, Mumbai ranks very low compared to New York and London in terms of air quality, sanitation, waste management, green space and parks. In everything from emissions control, urban ecology, to environmental stewardship, cities across the world are far ahead of Mumbai with their elected officials and business leaders taking strong action towards making the quality of life sustainable and worthwhile.

In order to put Mumbai on par with other international cities, there are many strategic initiatives that the government should focus on, like resource conservation, waste management, modern and sustainable infrastructure development, sanitation, water conservation, improving air quality, cultural development, optimizing transport system, and lots more than wasting resources on massacring the green space at Aarey Colony.

This vision deficient development project has plans for cultural activities to flourish. Nature is the breeding ground for art and culture. It has inspired artists, poets, musicians, painters, alike. Festivals across the globe are associated with nature. No cultural activities can ensue at a site where ruthless annihilation of nature has taken place.

Thus, all the plans for the development of Aarey colony are nothing but potential profit opportunities for a few, which are well camouflaged under the pretext of public interest and development. In the age of sustainable living, when everything from manufacturing to consumption is going sustainable, this large-scale slaughter of barely available green land in the city is anti-development.

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  1. Yash Agrawal

    Very valid.

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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.

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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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