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Three less inconvenient truths

Local leadership Copenhagen’s climate clamour has become the most followed search item on the internet. Several thousand miles away from its heated discussions, is a growing band of individuals, families and housing complexes in Mumbai doing their bit to tackle global warming. Soubhik Mitra reports.

mumbai Updated: Dec 14, 2009 00:10 IST
Soubhik Mitra

* Ramesh Iyer’s automatic washing machine gulped 240 litres water for every wash. A casual read through the machine’s manual took Iyer by surprise.

“The machine was consuming twice the needed capacity by default,” said the 51-year-old businessman. A day later, he made the necessary adjustments lowering the machine’s water usage by half.

The Mira Road resident will soon put up a list of such conservation tips on his website (www.gaiaka.com). “There is no point blaming the United States or our government for global warming. We have secure the planet for our children,” he said.

Many of Iyer’s ideas have been tested in his own flat and neighbours’ houses. When he sold off his car and bought a bicycle to go grocery shopping in the vicinity, some of his neighbours also joined him.

Iyer has stopped wearing suits or “hot clothes” to work so that the air-conditioner adjusted at the energy-efficient 24 degree Celsius does not make his office a sweatshop. “Former US vice-president Al Gore’s documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, had shown that little inconveniences like these can also help,” he said.

The comprehensive document will also be a tailor-made directory on eco-friendly products like solar heaters and energy efficient computers systems with their price and list of sellers.

* Anya Choksi is four-year-old. But she knows that lights should be switched off when there is nobody in the room or the tap shouldn’t be left open. Born in an ‘eco-friendly family’, the lessons came naturally to her. It is not surprising that ‘Manglik’, the Choksi 8,500 square feet bungalow in Juhu, has rainwater harvesting facility, solar panels and a small windmill.

The lightning comprises energy-efficient bulbs. The 1.4 kilowatts power drawn from nature is used for communal lighting of the bungalow. Rainwater is used for gardening and other cleaning purposes.

“It was a conscious decision to do our bit to control global warming,” said Ashish Choksi (41), Anya’s father and a member of the joint family staying in the bungalow. Windmills put up in farmhouses along the highway had got Ashish and his father thinking. “We thought why not use this in Mumbai,” said Choksi.

The family invested about Rs 10 lakh in solar panels and the windmill facility. “We did the investment for nature’s sake,” added Ashish.

The family has also made a few adjustments in their lifestyle. They do not use air-conditioners in winter and even during summers the temperature is kept closer to 24 degree Celsius. “In college I was spoilt brat who couldn’t do without air-conditioning,” laughs Ashish.

* Miraaj housing society in Malad is not the plushest building in the western suburb but its neat and clean precincts will take you by surprise. A mild stench from the nearby fishing hamlet clouds your mind but one will not find garbage lying within or outside the building periphery.

A few months ago the 140-odd families living in the building decided to segregate garbage — the first step for waste management. Each flat has separate bins for wet and dry garbage. “An organization involved in vermiculture using garbage gave us the idea,” said Bhushan Wade, a resident. “Our volunteers pick the segregated waste from the residents’ doorsteps,” said Francin Pinto, who heads the organisation. Apart from Mumbai, the organisation is involved in vermiculture projects with four other civic bodies — Alibaug, Silvassa, Pune and Matheran. “Segregated waste could to use to generate cooking fuel. We are trying to spread the message in more buildings,” said Pinto.

Each family pays a monthly fee of Rs. 100 for the service. “I feel content that I am doing something for the society,” said a resident adding that getting praised by visitors is an added advantage.

“It takes time to convert people. Many families would dump the waste together,” added Wade.