The Gaia Club is at it again — protecting the environment that is.
While everybody else has been planning Holi parties, buying colours (organic, hopefully) and plotting holidays, the young members of the Gaia (Greek for Goddess Earth) Nature Club at Kalyan, have been chalking out a plan to make this Holi as eco-friendly as they can make it.
“The Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has issued notices at all our apartment buildings, advising people not to use polythene bags,” says 19-year-old Pritesh Parab, a member of the club.
KDMC has issued a circular saying anyone buying or selling plastic bags (below 50 microns) will be fined Rs 5,000, or jailed for up to six months.
Spurred by this initiative, the club members, 30 in all (most of them live in the Lok Dhara cluster), undertook a survey of shops in their area on February 24.
“We sent our younger members whom the shopkeepers don’t know yet, to survey the area. They found plastic bags still being sold, including the small bags used to make water balloons during Holi – which explains why the roads are filled with plastic bags even before the festival has begun,” says Ameya Kalamkar, another member.
The group even approached Kolsewadi police station, in Kalyan (East), where they were assured of full support. “They’ve promised to send officers to any shops found selling plastic bags,” says Kalamkar. The group has also spoken to their local municipal ward officer.
“We surveyed the shops inside the colony – typically general and medical stores – and found only two or three plastic bags. We’ll have searches again to ensure the bags don’t resurface,” says L K Patil, KDMC’s chief sanitary inspector. Patil says a lot of the plastic bags come from Ulhasnagar.
The club also plans a rally around the colony on the eve of Holi.
“This is to make people aware of the ill-effects of throwing plastic bags and balloons,” says Piyush Garud, who, along with Parab and Kalamkar, is something of a veteran in environmental campaigning – Gaia has been organising similar rallies for eight years now. Last Diwali, they also campaigned against the use of firecrackers.
And what are their Holi plans? “Lots of fun, organic colours, and as little water as possible,” says Parab.