Blog Archives

Swami Prem Parivartan – a.k.a – Peepal Baba [The Man Who Planted Trees]

Peepal Baba was born in 1966 in Chandigarh, India. Born to a medical doctor in the Indian Army, he had the opportunity to travel across the country at a young age. He fell in love with the mountains, rivers and forests at a very young age. By the age of ten he started planting trees in his neighborhood. The hobby grew into a passion soon enough.

Peepal Baba has been planting trees since January 1977. Based in Delhi, India, he travels all over the country to make efforts at spreading awareness for planting trees. He delivers talks and lectures to villagers, community gatherings, and students, institutions to create awareness towards importance of planting more and more trees.

peepal-babawww.givemetrees.org

Peepal baba has himself planted several thousand of trees. He has been a role model for many. His enthusiasm and determination has inspired many to protect and plant trees. His life is dedicated to the increase of green cover on our planet.

Today, at the age of 45, he goes about planting trees wherever he is invited. He is invited by families, institutions, communities, villages to inform them and inspire them to increase their green cover.

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Deconcretisation of Trees Not Possible Without People Support

Delhi People shows the way to De-Concretisation at G.K – I (south delhi)

trees-being-dechoked-to-breathe

As Delhi develops into the world class city that ‘many’ are working hard to make it, concretization is the key word. And the concerete does not seem to be seeing an electric pole apart from a tree. And even as much is being said to protect and increase the green cover in the city, the existing greens seem to be choking to death. Most trees are being surrounded by concrete to such an extent that it leaves no breathing space for the tree thus reducing their capacity to keep themself upright.

The de-concretization did see some opposition from some residents, especially those who had gotten it done themselves, but the enthusiasm for conserving nature and perserving natural heritage and the court order ensured that the work has been continuing and over 60 trees have been freed till date. What is now needed is a citywide initiative to take this campaign to every colony and complex in Delhi.

The above was enough for Padmavati Dwivedi and her friends in her GK-I colony to persuade the Government, MCD and related authorities to follow the rules, uphold the law and remove the concrete cement from around all trees in their part of the colony.

By Law: Such concretisation is in violation of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Download the Honorable High Court’s Order Against Concretisation and Choking of Trees

NGT Order – 23 April’ 2013

Pollution drives away birds from wetland forest. Garhi Mandu City (north-east delhi)

Several species of beautiful birds have been forced into leaving the Garhi Mandu city forest area due to rise in pollution and loss of habitat. The forest area is spread over 894 acres in northeast Delhi.

Locals and civic workers are dumping debris and plastic waste in a huge natural wetland, which borders as much as 60 per cent of the south and eastern boundaries of this protected forest. Regular burning of garbage is causing severe air and water pollution.

On the filled up land, vegetable cultivation has also started. Water from the wetland is being regularly pumped out for cleaning vehicles and cultivation. Regular fishing is also disturbing the habitat and food chain of thes birds by causing the wetland to dry up. Open thoroughfare and playgrounds around the wetlands have also disturbed nesting.

Birds View, GM“Resident waterbirds scared away so far include oriental darter, spot-bill duck, great and little cormorant, cinnamon bittern, white-throated kingfisher, purple swamphen, Indian moorhen,” said ecologist TK Roy. Birds, whose nesting has been disturbed, include green bee-eater, bank mynah, dabchik, and blackwinged still.

“The wetland attracts several species but despite repeated requests from environmentalists, the government is yet to notify the wetland. That’s why it’s unprotected and officially not part of the city forest,” he said.

“While so much money is being spent to save wetlands, a natural one along this city forest has been left neglected. Once the wetland is notified by the government for its protection, Garhi Mandu City Forest will be combined forest land of terrestrial and wetland habitats,” he said. The city forest is rich in biodiversity. The first-ever bird count at Garhi Mandu, conducted on February 24 this year, found 90 species, including 26 migratory and several threatened birds. “We found 33 species of waterbirds, including 13 migratory ones. Of the 57 species of terrestrial birds, 13 were migratory,” said Roy, who conducted the count.

The city forest shares its eastern boundary with colonies such as Shastri Park, Jagjit Nagar and Usmanpur along the Pushta Road which branches off National Highway 24. On the other side, it borders the left bank of the Yamuna.

Delhi by Cycle – Explore Delhi (Old & New) Streets in a new way

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to DelhiByCycle! A lifetime experience in the streets of Delhi is waiting for you! With our daily tours we invite you to become part of the unique mix of colours, smells, sounds, tastes and unforgettable images. Take the tour and experience the city of Delhi with all your senses! Many, many hours we have spent cycling around, to see and feel what are the best places for you.

TOUR EXPERIENCE

We offer five fascinating routes, covering the most interesting, intense, historical and beautiful areas of Old and New Delhi! Each of the tours is beautiful and interesting in its own way, with a unique focus, taking you to the hidden wonders of the city!

FOUNDER

Jack LeenaarsDelhiByCycle is an initiative founded by Dutchman Jack Leenaars in 2009. As the former South Asia correspondent for De Telegraaf Jack started early in the morning on his cycle to discover the back lanes of Delhi. From a couple of participants on his first expeditions, the cycling tours have become a full hit in Delhi’s streets. Unique, green and most important, it’s a project with a soul. Each time Jack is on this bike he gets inspired by the streets of Delhi and can’t stop a bright smile on his face.

MEETING POINT

We choose the most famous movie house in the old city, Delite Cinema, as meeting point. Located at Asaf Ali Road, near the Turkman Gate (for Shah Jahan, Yamuna and Raj tour).

Opposite the cinema there is a car parking, walk inside and follow the lane leading inside the parking area. Once you are there, you can’t miss the orange bicycles! From there we cycle straight into the Walled City.

TIMINGS

We start early! To avoid traffic and crowds the tour meeting time is set at 06.30am and the tour lasts until around 10.00am.

TOURS

SHAHJAHAN TOUR, YAMUNA TOUR, RAJ TOUR, NIZAMUDDIN TOUR, HAVELI TOUR

 

Air pollution is now the fifth largest killer in India

Air pollution is now the fifth largest killer in India, says newly released findings of Global Burden of Disease report

  • Findings released by the scientists behind the study at a Dialogue Workshop organised by Centre for Science and Environment, Indian Council of Medical Research and US-based Health Effects Institute
  • Annual premature deaths caused by particulate air pollution have increased by six times since the year 2000
  • With one fifth of global deaths, India shows the greatest impacts of outdoor air pollution
  • Globally, air pollution-related deaths have increased by 300 per cent since 2000. About 65 per cent of these deaths occur in Asia
  • CSE’s national air quality analysis shows half of urban population breathes air with particulate levels that exceed the permissible limit. One third of urban Indians live in critically polluted areas

CSE’s health survey in Delhi shows majority of Delhiites say air pollution has worsened and blame rising number of vehicles for it

AA-Delhi-14Feb-Air_Pollution

New Delhi, February 13, 2013: Outdoor air pollution has become the fifth largest killer in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, and poor nutrition – says a new set of findings of the Global Burden of Disease report. The India and South Asia-specific findings were officially released here today at a Dialogue Workshop jointly organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Indian Council of Medical Research and the US-based Health Effects Institute.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report is a world-wide initiative involving the World Health Organization which tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes across the world every 10 years. The new findings were released by Aaron Cohen, principal epidemiologist of the Health Effects Institute and co-chair of the GBD Ambient Air Pollution Expert Group.

The report says that in 2010, about 620,000 premature deaths occured in India from air pollution-related diseases. GBD has ranked air pollution as one of the top 10 killers in the world, and the sixth most dangerous killer in South Asia. In fact, particulate air pollution is now just three places behind indoor air pollution, which is the second highest killer in India. “This is a shocking and deeply disturbing news. This calls for urgent and aggressive action to protect public health,” said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.

Among the others who attended the release and participated in the discussions were Kesav Desiraju, secretary, Union ministry of health and family welfare; Sanjiv Kumar, environment secretary of Delhi; Vinod Raina, head, Department of Medical Oncology, AIIMS; SK Chhabra, head, Department of Cardiorespiratory Physiology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute; Randeep Guleria, head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, AIIMS; Sanjeev Bagai, CMD, Nephron Clinic and Health Care; and Professor Kalpana Balakrishnan of the Sri Ramchandra Medical College and Research Institute.

Daniel Greenbaum, president and Robert O Keefe, vice president, Health Effects Institute, also shared the findings of the GBD assessment.

The India-specific analysis has been done using estimates of air pollution exposure at the national level and incidence of leading causes of deaths, aided by ground-level measurements, satellite remote sensing and models to capture population exposure. The GBD assessment follows a rigorous scientific process involving over 450 global experts and partner institutions including the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, the WHO, the Health Effects Institute, the University of Queensland, Australia, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University.

The key new findings — India

  • Shocking increase in Indian death toll: Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India, with 620,000 premature deaths in 2010. This is up from 100,000 in 2000 – a six-fold increase.
  • Massive loss in healthy years: Air pollution is the seventh leading cause behind the loss of about 18 million healthy years of life due to illness. It comes after indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, childhood underweight, low nutritional status, and alcohol use.
  • Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases key reasons for air pollution-induced premature deaths: These diseases include stroke (25.48%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (17.32%), Ischemic heart disease (48.6%), lower respiratory infections (6.4%), and trachea, bronchus and lung cancer (2.02%).

The key findings – South Asia and the world

  • Increase in death toll: Air pollution related diseases cause 3.2 million deaths worldwide every year. This has increased from 800,000, last estimated by GBD in the year 2000 – a whopping 300 per cent increase. About 74 million healthy life years are lost annually.
  • Ranked among the top 10 killers in the world: In South Asia, air pollution has been ranked just below blood pressure, tobacco smoking, indoor air pollution, poor intake of fruits and diabetes. Everyone – rich and poor – is vulnerable.
  • Two-thirds of the death burden from outdoor air pollution occurs in developing Asia: In 2010, particulate air pollution in Asia led to over 2.1 million premature deaths and 52 million years of healthy life lost, which is two-thirds of the worldwide burden. Killer outdoor air contributes to 1.2 million deaths in East Asia where economic growth and motorization are taking over, and 712,000 deaths in South Asia (including India) which is at the take-off stage. This is much higher than the combined toll of 400,000 in EU 27, Eastern Europe, and Russia.

CSE analysis exposes severe air pollution trends in India
In the wake of the GBD findings, CSE has analysed the latest air quality data available from the Central Pollution Control Board for the year 2010. Of the 180 cities monitored for SO2, NO2 and PM10, only two — Malapuram and Pathanamthitta in Kerala — meet the criteria of low pollution (50% below the standard) for all air pollutants.

Trends in polluted cities

  • Close to half the cities are reeling under severe particulate pollution while newer pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ozone and air toxics are worsening the public health challenge.
  • Vulnerable urban population: Half of the urban population breathes air laced with particulate pollution that has exceeded the standards. As much as one third of the population is exposed to critical levels of particulate pollution. Smaller and more obscure cities are amongst the most polluted.
  • More cities in grip of PM10: About 78% cities (141) exceed the PM10 standard. 90 cities have critical levels of PM10; 26 have the most critical levels, exceeding the standard by over three times. Gwalior, West Singhbhum, Ghaziabad, Raipur, and Delhi are the top five critically polluted cities.
  • More cities in grip of NO2: About 10% of the cities (19) exceed the NO2 standard. Of these, about nine have critical levels. Howrah, Barrackpore, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar and Asansol are the top five critically polluted cities.
  • State of SO2 pollution: One city — Lote in Maharashtra — exceeds the SO2 standard. Moderate levels of SO2 are noted in Jamshedpur and Saraikela Kharsawan in Jharkhand; Chandrapur, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, and Pune in Maharashtra; Ghaziabad and Khurja in UP, Dehradun in Uttarakhand and Marmagao and Curchorem in Goa.
  • Cities with double-trouble — particulates and NO2: Howrah, Barrackpore, Asansol, Durgapur, Sankrail, Raniganj, Kolkata (West Bengal), Badlapur and Ulhasnagar (Maharashtra) have critical levels of NO2 and PM10. Delhi, Haldia, Bicholim, Jamshedpur, Meerut, Noida, Saraikela Kharsawan, Jalgaon and Raipur have high levels of NO2 as well as critical levels of PM10.
  • Worsening trend since 2005: The PM10 monitoring network has doubled between 2005 and 2010 from 96 to 180 cities. During this period the cities with low level of pollution have fallen from 10 to 2, while the number of critically polluted cities has increased from 49 to 89. In 2005 about 75% of the cities exceeded the standard. In 2010, 78% are exceeding the standard. NO2 monitoring has expanded from 100 cities in 2005 to 177 in 2010. In 2005 only one city had exceeded the standard for NO2; in 2010, 19 cities have exceeded the standard. The tightening of the national ambient air quality standards has also changed the air quality profile of the cities.
  • Stabilisation in some cities: Some mega cities that have initiated some pollution control action in recent years have witnessed either stabilisation or some decrease in the levels.

CSE survey captures angst and worries of Delhiites
CSE has carried out a rapid survey of citizens of Delhi on their perception of air pollution and health and the mitigation strategies. This has exposed overwhelming popular concern about air pollution.

  • The majority of respondents — about 64% — have said air pollution is worsening.
  • 79% have attributed the problem of air pollution to growing number of vehicles.
  • 74% have said that air pollution causes respiratory problems and respiratory symptoms have increased in frequency in the last two months. About 14% say this has increased school absenteeism amongst children
  • Close to half have said that their doctors have mentioned air pollution as one of the causal factors.
  • Close to one third of the respondents have said that they are aware of the new GBD estimates.
  • About 26% know that the World Health Organisation and International Agency on Cancer Research have reclassified diesel emission as a class 1 carcinogen, putting it in the same class as tobacco smoking for its strong link with lung cancer.
  • There is strong support for improvement in public transport, walking and cycling. About 47% have supported reduction in car numbers. About 62% have said there should be restraint on diesel cars and SUVs.

Says Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director-research and advocacy and head of its air pollution team: “Days of doubts and complacency are over. There is hard evidence now to act urgently to reduce the public health risks to all, particularly children, elderly, and poor. No one can escape toxic air. India will have to take aggressive action to reverse the trend of short-term respiratory and cardiac effects as well as long-term cancer and other metabolic and cellular effects. Remember – toxic effects like cancer surface after a long latency period. Therefore, exposure to air pollution will have to be reduced today to reduce the burden of dieses.”

What should India do:

  • Make National Ambient Air Quality Standards legally binding in all regions: The national air quality planning and city action plans need a roadmap for each source of pollution and aggressive measures. Impose penalty on cities if air quality standards are violated.
  • Prepare stringent vehicle technology and fuel quality roadmap, encourage in-use vehicle management: It is shocking that the terms of reference of the new committee that has been set up to propose the next Auto Fuel Policy Roadmap does not even include public health in its agenda. Make urgent timelines for Euro V and Euro VI emissions standards. Restrain dieselization.
  • Control and cut increase in vehicle numbers by scaling up public transport, non-motorised transport, compact city planning and car restraint measures.
  • Strengthen implementation plans for critically polluted notified areas
  • Account for health cost in decision making: Valuation of acute and chronic illnesses must be linked to decision on air pollution control measures.
  • Put in place a public information system on daily air quality with health advisories and implement smog alert and pollution emergencies measures.

For more details, please contact Papia Samajdar at papia@cseindia.org / 9811906977.

M&M launches electric car ‘e2o’

Three years after Mahindra group acquired Bangalore-based electric car maker Reva, the company launched its first electric car ‘e2o’ priced at Rs 5.96 lakh (on road Delhi, after state subsidy).

The group also said it has plans to extend the electric mobility technology to its two-wheelers, while seeking support from the central government for pushing eco-friendly vehicles.

The Mahindra e2o utilises Lithium ion batteries and offers a 100 km drive range to its owner which is a very feasible distance for urban use. In terms of recharging, the electric car can be re-charged through any 15 amp plug point along with the Sun2Car option that utilises solar power technology. While the e2o does not have active competition in the market, the upcoming Nissan Leaf may be able to give it a run for its money. Additionally, vehicles like Hyundai i10, Maruti Ritz and Swift will also offer competition to the e2o as they are a part of the growing B segment hatchback portfolio.

Commenting on the market expansion plans for the e2o, Mahindra & Mahindra President (Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors) Pawan Goenka said: “We will be launching it in eight other cities over the next three to four weeks. The prices will vary as it would depend on how much subsidy state governments will give to the electric car.”

In Delhi, the government has given a total of 29 per cent subsidy on the electric car as a result of which the company has been able to sell it at an on-road price of Rs 5.96 lakh, he said, adding it would be more expensive in other cities.

The ‘e2o’ will also be launched in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Pune and Kochi.

Did U Know ? burning dead leaves is harmful – read the article to know how.

Open burning of leaves, which has for ages been pretty much the norm for getting rid of fallen leaves in winter, has come under the scanner of pollution watchdogs for releasing huge amounts of soot, harmful particles and toxic gases aggravating air pollution. Sweepers and gardeners in public parks have been found burning leaves in large heaps. They have been doing this for years as a habit. Notices are served to civic bodies and other agencies too.

Traditionally, burning of leaves in the winter has been an integral part of the maintenance of parks in the city, in order to prevent the huge heaps of dry leaves from adding to the municipal solid waste stream.

But what makes this a huge problem is that there around 3,700 ornamental parks, almost 10,000 ordinary/neighbourhood parks and about 80 children’s parks across Delhi. “So the amount of leaves that burn in winter is just enormous. They are usually burnt in the mornings, mostly filling the area with smoke and soot,” he said.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in its soon-to-be published Source Apportionment Study, which pinpoints the sources and the amount of each air pollution component, has mentioned burning of leaves as a source of winter pollution in Delhi and elsewhere.

That apart, burning of leaves and woods also release the cancer-causing organic compound called benzene and toxic gas carbon monoxide in large amounts, said Dr T.K. Joshi of Centre for Environment and Occupational Health at Maulana Azad Medical College. “Small children are at graver risk. Joggers and all who inhale more air in the morning are also greatly exposed to it,” he said.

A UN report had recently called Delhi one of the most polluted Asian metropolises.

Burning leaves also adds to the formation of thick smog in winters.