In his month-long stay at Lohajung, our Green Trails crusader, Mohit has tried to strike multiple conversations with the Market Association Head of Lohajung and encourage him to do a clean up drive. Mohit says, “I had been after him for days and one day he finally gave me a date for the clean up activity. Not just that, he even hired another guy to help us with the clean up!”
Here are before and after photos below.
The Market Association Head of Lohajung has given his word to conduct a clean up at least once every month.
On the day of the clean up, the three crusaders collected 9 sacks of glass bottles, 1 sack of plastic bottles and 7 sacks of non-recyclable waste. They were all segregated then and there.
“We started cleaning up from around the two main temples, moved to our base camp at Lohajung and then went up till the last police chowki in town,” says Mohit.
After the clean up, the sacks were sent to Dehradun to be disposed rightly.
Appeal To Haldwani Commissioner For Lohajung Waste Disposal
Mohit has been quite persuasive in making the waste management process in Lohajung a smooth process.
As you all may know, we collect waste on all our treks and in and around the base camps. This waste is then segregated, after which it is sent down to the nearest city for proper disposal. This is fairly easy when vehicles are usually plying all the way down to the nearest city with waste management systems.
On this particular slope, however, sending it all the way down 300+ kilometres to Dehradun isn’t feasible because local vehicles don’t ply this route. Most of them head down to Haldwani, which has a landfill, which we are currently not allowed to use.
Mohit then went to speak to the Pradhans or Village Panchayat heads of Lohajung and Mandoli village to raise his concerns regarding the growing piles of waste. He explained how lack of a proper waste disposal system can be detrimental to the village.
The Pradhans and other important members of the Panchayat assigned Mohit to write a letter to the Commissioner of Haldwani to request him access to the Haldwani landfill. This would mean that the waste from Lohajung could then be disposed in the Haldwani landfill. Landfills aren’t an answer, but this is a start.
Mohit, who is on his way back from his first meeting with the Commissioner is quite confident about his success. “I submitted the letter along with the signatures of 117 villagers wanting the waste disposal crisis in Lohajung to be fixed. Along with this I’ve submitted a report on what Indiahikes has been doing with its Green Trails initiative over the past five years in Lohajung.” The commissioner has asked Mohit to meet him next week to further this process.
Meanwhile, the Taxi Association of Lohajung has agreed to join hands with Green Trails. They have offered to carry down at least 3 sacks of waste from Lohajung down to Haldwani every week so that it can be safely disposed. A few of them also suggested to sell the recyclable waste to kabadi wallahs on the way to make the process even more effective.
This is BIG news for us because transporting waste in a vehicle otherwise takes up a lot of resources.
Teaching Environmental Studies in Lohajung schools
Our Eco-Clubs have now progressed two steps ahead with a whole new subject called Environmental Studies. “I spoke to the principals of two schools Lohajung and told them about the importance of this subject. One of them was more than willing to let me take a half an hour long class everyday for students of classes 6th to 8th,” says Mohit.
But more than training students, we want to train teachers to ensure longevity of our work.
In the UGBS school in Lohajung, one of the teachers is being given regular training sessions by Mohit on Environmental Studies so she can teach her class about it. It’s being well-received by the students of classes 7th and 8th.
What’s next for Green Trails?
At Indiahikes, we believe information and knowledge is necessary to bring about any kind of change. Just like we brought information to the trekkers to make the world of trekking a bit more accessible, Green Trails is trying to do the same.
Mohit has been in talks with the Village Head of Kuling, a small village only 4 km from Lohajung. “I’ve told him how important it is to educate the people about waste management and safe disposal. He was extremely impressed with the bottle bricks idea,” says Mohit.
We will soon be conducting a workshop on waste management, upcycling and recycling in Kuling. Mohit will be preparing a separate module for this very project.
Our Green Trails team is always game for new ideas and ways of tackling the growing waste crisis in the mountains. If you have anything to contribute about this please email Lakshmi, our Green Trails Head on [email protected].