Earth Day 2018: Meet Delhi’s eco-warriors who continue to fight for a greener, cleaner city

Green-minded Delhiites say it’s not an easy feat to strive for a better environment, but the challenges add sweetness to the struggle.

environment Updated: Apr 22, 2018 13:05 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Earth Day,Environment,Delhi
Participants of Run to Clean use biodegradable bags to collect and dispose garbage in bins, during one of their events in Connaught Place, last year.

Though Earth Day is celebrated, once a year, on April 22, the Capital has a few eco-warriors who work relentlessly 365 days to make this city a little more liveable. The deteriorating condition of the environment of the National Capital Region has made their task tougher. But, the larger cause to keep the Earth fit for future generations is what keeps them going.

“It’s challenging to keep working towards it because many of these are lost battles,” says Vimlendu Jha, founder of Swechha — a Delhi-based, youth-led NGO. Jha has been working for the cause of river Yamuna for almost two decades now. He says it does become frustrating at some point to work endlessly.

Vimlendu Jha has been working for Yamuna river since two decades now. (Facebook/Vimlendu Jha)

“Imagine, on one side we are planting trees and at the other, the government would fell them or something else in the name of development. It does frustrate young people, and people like us who really put in so much energy. Sometimes we also know from the start that we are not going to achieve it, or it’s going to be really difficult to achieve it, and therefore the journey becomes challenging. But that doesn’t mean one has to give up because that’s the reality — you have to keep fighting because there’s no other choice. Wish there was another river, or another forest or another planet in that sense. Sometimes the process also is the end,” adds Jha.

Tree Man (Deepak Ramesh Gaur ) from Gurgaon has started celebrating birthdays of trees he plants, so that people remember to take care of them throughout the year.

However, there are some environmentalists, who in order to continue the battle, device new methods. For instance, Deepak Ramesh Gaur aka Tree Man of Gurgaon, whose initiative, Gift a Tree Campaign started in 2012, and would continue until he completes his target of one billion. The 42-year-old, who was born in Haryana’s Hisar district, asks: “What are we giving to our future generations? Masks are being imported from countries such as Korea to fight pollution. But, why not give natural oxygen cylinders to our children… I mean trees! This Earth Day, I’m going to start a concept where I will gift a plant to a few RWA presidents and pledge along with them to take care of it. I will also visit them on weekends, to interact with kids in their locality, and explain the importance of planting trees. Also, now when I plant a tree in any institution, I go back to visit it after a year and celebrate its birthday. So, round the year people in that institution feel the pressure of taking care of the tree. Sochte honge ki ped ka dhyan rakhlo kyunki Tree Man aayega birthday manane.”

Volunteers help pick up rubbish during a run organised by the NGO Keep India Beautiful.

The work of green-warriors also inspires general public to care for the environment. “During our Run to Clean initiative in CP last year, when people saw us clearing rubbish from streets, some elderly blessed us and some youngsters joined the drive,” says Vishal Sethi, director of Keep India Beautiful, an NGO, which organises marathons. Here people from different age groups participate to watch a street play on cleanliness, indulge in some basic warm-up exercises and run to pick-up garbage in biodegradable bags. “Fit people can help conserve the environment better. So, we have introduced workout as part of the initiative. Our motto is to not run away from our responsibilities. We try to make people understand the relevance of cleanliness, give them a platform to work towards it, and also explain them how to do it. If each one of us does our bit, our environment will definitely benefit a lot,” he says.

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First Published: Apr 22, 2018 13:04 IST