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I Joined the SaveKBR Movement For My Children’s Health

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“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.” – Cree Indian Prophecy

A year back, when I took my older twin daughter for the third visit to the doctor for a complaint of running nose and watery eyes, the doctor asked me some intriguing questions.

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“Where do you live?”
“I live nearby the junction on the main road opposite the flyover.”
“Ahhh, she might have developed dust allergy. Is it possible to shift your house to the interior locality?”
“Sir, not immediately for sure.”
“Usually, the pollution levels are higher near the main roads, if you cannot afford to shift your house do buy an air purifier and install in the room where your kids spend most of the time.”

I felt helpless as well as angry on that day. Air Pollution has already started affecting my children, who are three years old now. Like my children, lakhs of people are suffering from the impacts of air pollution. As per the scientific paper titled ‘Health and economic impact of air pollution in the States of India: The Global Burden of Disease Study 2019’, 1.7 million deaths in India were attributable to air pollution in 2019, which was 18% of the total deaths in the country.

Yet, it seems like, in general, our government approach towards the development of our country is GDP and economy-oriented, which means business, jobs, earnings and profits. By the way, the same report highlighted “while the economic loss due to the lost output from premature deaths and morbidity from air pollution was 1.4% of the GDP in India during this time, which is equivalent to ₹260,000 crore ($36.8 billion).

Look At What’s Happening In My City Hyderabad

KBR national park is a park spread in the area of 142.50 hectares in the centre of the city. It has more than 600 species of plants, along with mammals, reptiles, birds and butterflies. It is a common sight to see beautiful peacocks on the walkway of the park.

Hundreds of walkers visit the park every day to exercise, catch some fresh air and to find peace and serenity in the green. KBR park is a carbon sink for the city supplying oxygen and purifying the air around. With the city’s rapid expansion, KBR national park is also among the last few precious remaining green spaces.

Things were all fine until the government of Telangana planned the Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP) in the city. The project proposed six flyovers be passed around KBR national park to ease traffic jams on the way to Hitech city the IT hub of Hyderabad. To construct the flyovers, a notification is issued to shrink eco-sensitive zones around the park.

Save KBR National Park: The Lungs of Hyderabad

ESZ acts as the “shock absorber” between a highly protected area and regulates human activities. What remains a mystery is no one in the city know when did the mandatory public hearing take place? If so, where are the records of it? Yet the plan received approval from Environment Ministry.

What it means, in reality, is a death warrant to 1300 trees amidst intensifying climate crisis. Not just trees, it will put animals & birds like peacocks at threat. Acquiring land from the park will disturb the natural water flow, thus making the surrounding area prone to flooding and reducing groundwater recharge. Once the buffer zone is reduced, and with added vehicular traffic, the pollution levels will only increase.

Talking about pollution, in November 2020, Hyderabad only witnessed a single day where the city’s air quality matched the prescribed PM 2.5 WHO standard. I think flyovers are a false solution and are not sustainable. In the last two decades, massive road widening took place, and the government built dozens of flyovers in the city.

In doing so, numerous trees were cut-down, and thousands of people lost their livelihood. Yet the city is unable to cope with the traffic problem today. However, the air pollution problem grew in the city, and Hyderabad is a non-attainment city where pollution levels are regularly high.

The current flyovers mentality is only encouraging more private vehicles on roads. Hyderabad adds 1000 two-wheelers and 230 four-wheelers every day. Flyover gives you ease at one junction, but what about the next junction followed by many more junctions till you reach your destination.

Wish our public representatives had farsightedness and had built a smart network of public transportation systems, making it safe and accessible for all. We could have retained the cycling culture and invested in last-mile connectivity.

Have you ever read the quote by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens, can change the world? Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

To save the KBR national park, ordinary people from all walks of life initiated a citizens’ movement. The movement aims to preserve the park and the last remaining green spaces and challenge the current narrow mindset of development & initiate a debate around sustainability and future of the city.

The fight seems to be that of David and Goliath but worth fighting. An inspirational story to tell to the children that we stood for our mother Earth at the time of crisis.

Join the movement to SaveKBR and sign the petition!

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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.

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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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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