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Meet the architects of green spaces in Mumbai

Every household in a Kandivli housing complex produces 150kg of waste daily, and for seven years, a family made manure with this waste.

mumbai Updated: Jul 20, 2015 20:00 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Afzhal Khatri,Nusrat Khatri,environment

Every household in a Kandivli housing complex produces 150kg of waste daily, and for seven years, a family made manure with this waste.

The Khatris - Afzhal, 64, and Nusrat, 62 – converted close to 350 tonnes of garbage into manure for gardens and potted plants, substantially reducing the quantum of waste sent to the dumping grounds.

Nusrat and Afzhal Khatri at the garden on the premises of Samata Nagar police station. HT photo: Vidya Subramanian

This is not it – the couple has also been initiating drives to clean several areas in Mumbai. They have also organised tree plantation and waste segregation drivers. They have been guiding educational institutions and other societies to live a green lifestyle.

The Khatris came to Mumbai in 2001 after living abroad for 13 years and started working on various projects to help protect the environment.

“When we returned to Mumbai from New York, there seemed to be a lack of action and motivation from people around us when we expressed what we wanted to do. When nobody supported us in our endeavours,” said Nusrat.

They began their journey by removing copious amounts of debris and garbage from outside their complex with the help of labourers. “Since 2001, not a speck of waste can be seen in the periphery of the colony,” said Afzhal.

While Nusrat l ear nt the nuances of horticulture from St Andrews College, Afzhal started segregating wet and dry waste for aerobic composting and verimculture. The duo located various sites such as a police station, 22 residential societies in areas like Lokhandwala, Vikhroli and Kandivli to carry out clean-up drives.

The couple even changed the face of a resort, the area around which was filled with garbage, and converted it into a green space.

The Khatris’ efforts were rewarded when their complex won the clean and green award given by the civic body for three consecutive years. They were awarded the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar (IGPP) by the President and the Ministry of Environment in 2009.

“In a unique way, without charging a single penny from anybody, the couple changed the face of many areas. These areas are pointed out as green lungs on Mumbai’s maps. If not like them, but people can do something for their housing societies. This will go a long way in saving this city’s green cover,” said Sahebrao Gaikwad, ward officer R-south, BMC.

First Published: Jul 20, 2015 19:54 IST