• Past Events

Past Events

National Conference on Climate Change December 2015
A national ‘Conference on Initiatives to Combat Climate Change’ was held December 27-29, 2015 at the St Pius College Hall, Goregaon. Fifty three participants, including regional bishops and people involved in mitigation and adaptation work at the grassroots level, attended the conference organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE), Mumbai together with Caritas India, New Delhi; Office for Justice, Peace and Development, CBCI New Delhi; Climate Change Desk-FABC (CCD/FABC), Mumbai; Misereor, Germany and the Institute for Community Organisation Research (ICOR), Mumbai. The purpose was to celebrate the encyclical Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis and to respond to the challenges of climate change in India.

The conference had eight major sessions spread equally across two days, with round table discussions after every session to ensure full participation. The participants were welcomed by Fr Allwyn D’Silva (Head-AOE and Secretary- CCD/FABC), followed by the keynote address on climate change by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay. His Eminence highlighted the threat posed by climate change to peace and security, its ramifications at all levels, the non- binding outcome of the COP21 summit, the impact of Laudato Si’ and the obligation of Christians to be involved.

Mr Walter Mendoza of the Timbuktu Collective, Andhra Pradesh, then clarified certain concepts of climate change, and explained the policy journey right from Kyoto in 1997 to Paris in 2015. He also stressed on the shortcomings of the Paris Agreement. Dr Fr Stephen Fernandes, executive secretary of the Office of Justice, Peace and Development, CBCI and professor of Ethics and Moral Theology conducted an insightful session on the Church’s social teaching on the environment, beginning with the contributions of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, followed by an overview of Laudato Si’.

The post-lunch session on urban initiatives had four speakers: Dr Priyadarshini Karve (Samuchit Envirotech Pvt Ltd) on climate change in the urban context and low carbon development, Deepika Singh (ICOR) on green audit of educational institutes, Dr Francin Pinto (Garbage Concern Welfare Society and 3S Envo) on providing cost- effective solutions to environmental problems and Elsie Gabriel (Young Environmentalists Programme Trust) on climate change education. The focus shifted to the rural context with Fr Franklin Menezes from Caritas India speaking on various rural initiatives such as solar street lighting, organic farming etc. run by Seva Kendra Calcutta and an input by Dr Karve on low carbon rural technologies for cooking, sanitation, bamboo construction and livelihood generation.

Short videos on local initiatives in Vile Parle, Bandra and Thane were streamed after the evening Eucharist celebrated by His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias.

The second day began with Morning Prayer and Mass. Mr Dominic D’Souza of Laya, Vishakapatnam recapped the previous day’s proceedings in the context of a template for holistic education in a climate changing world. In the next session, Dr Vinay Deshmukh, retired Principal Scientist of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Mumbai centre spoke about the impact of climate change on Indian coastal ecology and adaptive and mitigation measures for marine fisheries. Ms Shuddhawati Peke of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers drove home the community’s plight in the video “Sea of Change” and the importance of promoting small scale fisheries as strategy to combat climate change and disaster risks. In the session allotted to Caritas India, Dr Haridas presented the effect on climate change on natural resources and Dr Pallab De expounded the Sundarban Climate Change Research Program, emphasising the issues of agriculture, aquaculture, water resources, livelihood and displacement/ migration of islanders. Fr Francis D’Britto, Harit Vasai Saurakshan Samiti, traced the poignant journey of the organisation’s commitment to keep Vasai green by uniting and mobilising the locals against the builder lobby-government nexus.

Following these sessions, initiatives were shared in the open house. Mr Gordon D’Souza spoke of the work being done by the Environment Protection Forum of the Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS). Ms Shreelata Menon of Envirovigil, who had a stall set up during the conference, explained how the use of green products by city denizens contributes to environmental conservation. Dr Nitya Ghotge of Anthra, Pune talked about her organisation of women veterinary scientists who work on livestock development in the broader context of sustainable natural resource use. Mr Dominic D’Souza shared Laya’s initiatives on low carbon pathways. Ms Rita and Mr Anand also added more BCS initiatives such as recycling tetra packs.

In the concluding session, as a way forward, Fr Allwyn took suggestions from the floor; the consensus responses were: need of more workshops for networking, green audits of institutions, taking green living to the community, prioritising environment- friendly concepts with family cells, involving youth and schoolchildren, and a documentation of the conference proceedings.
One day conference on "Changing coastal ecology and climate change issues of vulnerabilities, adaptation and sustainable marine resource management in Maharashtra" on 18th July?
World Environment Day - 5th June 2015
Mother Earth Song

As one we walk this earth together
As one we sing to her our song
As one we love her
As one we heal her
Her heart beats with our own as one.

As one we join with her our mother
As one we feel her sacred song
As one we touch her
As one we heal her
Her heart beats with our own as one

Titel: As one - Artist : Denean (Native American) ♥
Music"As One" by Denean (iTunes)

Silver Jubilee Celebration of ICOR
Session on green audit for Sunday School Children at St. Michael, Mahim by Deepika Singh
State Climate Action Plan Meeting, Pune
Meeting discussing climate change impacts

Institute for Community Organisation Research (ICOR), Goregaon (E), in association with Walter Mendoza of the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC), organised a one-day meeting in Pune on 15 November 2014 to discuss the impact of climate change in Maharashtra and civil society responses in the context of sustainable and equitable development.

The meeting discussed key issues such as water resources, agriculture, energy, urban transport and livelihood from the perspective of marginalised communities and in relation to the State’s Action Plan on Climate Change which is being drawn up. The meeting suggested that the problems and voices of the marginalised communities should be reflected in the Action Plan.
Waste Management Workshop at St Michael's Hall, Mahim
CAN is Climate Action Network. People involved in Climate Change will understand their sharing (274 KB)
Report: Green National Accounts in India on 01st May 2013 (2.22 MB)
Gender & Developmen​t on 30th August 2013
Outreach programme for St Andrew's College students 14th Year Graduation during September and October 2013
Green Day
Report: Workshop on Aviation and Climate Change-Challenges on a global and equitable solution, 9-10 May 2013
1. Aims and objectives of the workshop
The workshop on Aviation and Climate Change: Challenges on a Global and Equitable Solution, 9-10 May 2013, was organized by LAYA-INNEC in collaboration with the Bread for the World (BFW). The two day workshop was organized to provide an overview of existing developments and to consider a framework for curbing emissions from international aviation. The event was aimed to serve as a learning workshop, which brought together civil society organizations both nationally and internationally to reflect upon, discuss and exchange views on matters related to climate change and aviation with focus on equity and sustainable development.
2. Workshop Sessions
The sessions in the workshop addressed the following:
2.1 The need to address emissions from aviation;
2.2 Dimensions of equity and the implications and effects of aviation emissions;
2.3 Discussions on the challenges for a global framework and India’s position on Market Based Mechanisms (MBM);
2.4 Perspectives from the airline representatives - Jet Air, Air India and Boeing;
2.1 Growing emissions from aviation
Aviation has to be made more efficient and responsible to the global environmental concerns. It is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and the most climate-intensive form of transport. The Human Development Report (2013) notes that environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from aviation are responsible for 4.9-14% of global warming (Lee et al, 2009) and is projected to be responsible for 25% of global warming by 2050. The aviation industry had shown a growth rate of 3-4% in 2013 even when only 2% of the world population actively takes part in aviation and almost 80% of all flights are for holiday reasons alone. Aviation activity not only emits carbon dioxide emissions but also nitrous oxide gases, whose effects on human life forms have not been fully explored.
2.2 Dimensions of Equity
Addressing the equity dimension in the aviation sector has so far been unclear. The developing countries have maintained that much of the emissions from aviation have been contributed by the developed world and therefore the aspect of “historical responsibility” should be integrated in any proposed global mechanism. Moreover, the principle of ‘common but differentiated principle’ (CBDR), a core aspect of the UNFCCC, must find a place in an international governance system on aviation. However, the developed nations are of the view that more important than historic responsibility are concerns related to current and future responsibility that need to be considered while formulating a global regime. Considering that airline users around the world belong to an ‘elite’ class makes the equity concern irrelevant. Herein lies one of the key bottlenecks to arrive at a consensus.
2.3 Challenges for a Global Framework
In the light of the global failure to arrive at any regulations governing the aviation sector and the failure of the mandated UN Agency, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to agree on any binding measures to control greenhouse gas emissions in the ensuing 15 years, the EU adopted legislation in 2008 and it was enforced by January 2012 to include aviation in its emission’s trading scheme. This action evoked universal indignation. It was felt that the EU had taken a unilateral decision, which was considered unacceptable.

The Government of India strongly critiqued the EU action. There were concerns that it would set precedents beyond the aviation sector. Mandatory MBMs would lead to lack of innovation within the sector and become another industry in itself. In addition, there were views that ICAO should not be a primary forum for negotiations as it is a body, which mainly provides technical expertise. It does not have a framework to take into account the CBDR principle. Hence the UNFCCC should be the best forum to negotiate the equity issue.

It was generally felt that a well-designed approach must be environmentally robust and should also address inter-country equity. It was considered important for civil society organisations (CSO) to express their viewpoint in the light of the upcoming ICAO assembly in September 2013. There was a need for discussions on possible framework guidelines which could be tabled at ICAO. As such lobbying and advocacy initiatives were required both outside and within the UNFCCC framework.
2.4 Perspective from the Airlines in India
As the roadmap for addressing aviation emission through ICAO seem to be hinged primarily on Market based Mechanisms (MBM), the representatives of the airlines/aircraft in India (Jet Airways, Air India and Boeing) felt that MBMs in aviation were economically unviable possibly bringing about market distortions and unhealty competition, unfavourabe to the industry. However they noted the usefulness of the EU Emission trading Scheme (ETS) in increasing efficiency by providing valuable tools for monitoring and corrections which they would continue to put into practice. It was in general felt that the airlines in India had undertaken operational and technical measures towards ensuring efficiency as a part of their cost effectiveness strategy although not necessarily emanating from a concern for the environment!

There was also some dicussion on corporate social responsbility and whether the airlines should have mandatory responsibility in supporting projects that could benefit the marginalised communities affected adversely by GHG emissions. The perspective of the airlines‘ representatives was that the current economic status of most airlines was fraught with difficulties. Nevertheless it was agreed that voluntary activities that could range from charitable to development initiatives should be encouraged.

The engagement of the airlines‘ representatives was appreciated by most participants and it was felt that continued interaction among the CSOs and the aviation sector was essential. More certainly needed to be done!
3. Reflections and Learning
3.1 Holistic approach to aviation:
It was recognized that the aviation emissions cannot be addressed in isolation. The aviation sector must be seen holistically from a larger transport sector perspective. It is pertinent to understand the emissions generated from all forms of transport such as by road, railways and maritime and compare their environment implications. Military aviation is another area about which very little is known. In understanding the aviation emissions it was also felt necessary to be aware of not only emissions caused during travel but the emissions generated in the manufacturing of airplanes as well as pollution impacts at the point of production and, decommissioning of aircrafts. Besides, a concern was also expressed on the impact from aviation fuel refineries on communities living around them. Moreover, it is important to take note of the massive expansion of airport infrastructure and related Issues of displacement and consumption of electricity and the subsequent effects on ecology and environment. It was felt that aviation related data on the traffic of passengers need to be made publicly available so that carbon footprints could be calculated.
3.2 Link between ‘aviation-tourism-development and poverty’
It was interesting to note that 80% of air travel, as indicated above could be attributed to tourism. The link between ‘aviation-tourism-development and poverty’ was an eye opener for many. Tourism especially in ‘developing countries’ is seen as an economic opportunity. Many countries which are thriving tourist destinations are also the worst off in terms of their levels of poverty. However, observation and studies reveal that usually it is only the small elite that benefits and large sections are vulnerable as their livelihoods and habitation are under continuous threat. Many multinational corporate organisations own the resorts and are buying off prime land in many developing countries. Unsustainable tourism creates poverty and related issues: water access, land rights, discrimination of indigenous people, human rights violation, commercial sexual exploitation of children and women in tourism. Local communities are excluded from the market and therefore are unable to participate. Future trends show that carbon emissions from tourism will grow by 162% during 2005-2035. The need of the hour therefore is to call for sustainable, just, and fair practices in the tourist industry.
3.3 Ethical dimension of the discourse on aviation
A major concern raised was that there was a need to factor in ethical and value concerns in the discourse on aviation and climate change. The idea that growth was the driving energy for existence often obfuscated the realities of inequality and thus there is a need to think of alternative frameworks and paradigms. More so because only a microscopic community has access to air travel and the burden of a depleting environment has to be shouldered by all citizens of the globe.

To address the question of how aviation emission cuts could contribute to resilience building among the poor communities, several reflections/suggestions were made:
  • Creation of a global fund from aviation on the lines of the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund would have a large potential to generate finance and protect vulnerable communities. All international passengers irrespective of their nationalities should be subjected to environmental levies/taxes, which could contribute to the central fund to support climate response at the grassroots;
  • Voluntary offsetting as a short-term compensatory measure could be more cost effective and involve less administrative burden;
  • A transparent monitoring framework for the effective use of funds should be in place ensuring that it fulfills the purpose for which it was meant;
  • In relation to alternative fuels, agro-fuels were not considered to be an option due to adverse implication on food security;
  • Promoting the concept of carbon neutral villages in the context of a wider debate on climate justice could be an advocacy issue to be pursued by INECC
4. Way Forward
As a way forward it was unanimously felt that the discourse on aviation should be taken forward and that the workshop marked a beginning for a wider debate and advocacy initiatives that would reflect voices from both the global north and south. There was also a common agreement that the participants wanted to continue working on this issue thereby strengthening and broadening networks and communications. All the presentations emphasized that global targets to reduce emissions within the aviation sector were of prime importance and more information had to be generated and shared on the issue of aviation and climate change.

It was also felt that the government of India which has so far engaged only the airlines and the corporates ought to be pressurised into considering the views of CSOs in formulating its stands on the issue of aviation emissions.
Decentralized MSW Plan on 4th June 2013 (558 KB)
Community Waste Management – Case Studies
Municipal wastes, if not handled well, not only cause environmental degradation but also emit green house gases (GHGs), especially methane, which contribute to atmospheric warming and, in the long run, climate change. This is a particularly a problem in a major city like Mumbai, which is continuously expanding (into Greater Mumbai) with a burgeoning population and rising consumption. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai collects wastes from various localities, transports it over long distances across the city in heavy vehicles (burning much fossil fuel which is a major source of GHG emissions) and throws it in a central dumpyard where they rot (recently, though, new “landfill” systems have been built at high costs). But this system can hardly cope with the growing problem. As a result, much of the city’s open spaces, drains, and roadsides are littered with garbage, causing environmental and public health problems. Decaying wastes at the central dump yard emit GHGs.

One solution to this problem would be to encourage and support decentralized community-based waste management. Local communities can take charge of the wastes in their areas – collect the wastes, segregate them into “dry” (recyclable) and “wet” (biodegradable) wastes. The dry wastes can be reused or recycled in numerous ways and the biodegradable wastes can be composted and used in kitchen as well as outdoor and public gardens and farms. This will help reduce the emission of GHGs from wastes, cut down on the fossil fuels used in transporting wastes over long distances, and also reduce the use of chemical fertilizers which are another source of GHGs.

Towards this end, ICOR, in association with a Citizens’ Group, initiated some case studies of some such initiatives taken by communities and individuals with the ideas of propagating these initiatives wider and to see how such efforts can be replicated or scaled up. Given below are four examples. Another question is of the sustainability of such efforts.
1. Waste flowers to compost - Niklang Mandal’s work
Niklang Social Works Mandal is a community-based organization (CBO) of 3,000 slum households with a population of 14, 000, in Borivili (East), a northern suburb of Mumbai. Set up in the year 2000, the Mandal started with social and educational activities in the slums. In 2004, a municipal official suggested that they take up composting of flower wastes from temples. The municipality (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai or MCGM) offered them a plot of land in Siddharth Nagar (Borivili East) and also delivery of an average of one tonne of flower waste a day collected from all big temples in the Borivili municipal ward.

The Mandal took up the offer. Raising a loan of Rs..5 lakhs from banks and other sources, it set up 29 pits for vermi-composting, and bought 100 kg of earthworms as a starting stock. The raised and brick-lined pits, each measuring 4ft x 8ft x4ft(depth), cost about Rs.350,000 to build and the earthworms, at Rs.1,200 per kg , cost another Rs. 120,000.. With other sundry expenses, the total investment came to around Rs. 500,000.

Today, the Mandal produces about 4 tonnes of compost a month from about 30 tonnes of flower wastes a month that the municipality delivers free at the site. It has also built a plant nursery in the yard. The compost is sold at Rs. 5 per kg. Initially, there was a problem in selling all the compost but now, with increased environmental awareness among people, all the compost is sold, mainly in bulk, to residents and housing societies around, and (in bulk packages) to big farmers and companies associated with farming (as their own business or under the Corporate Social Responsibility projects) from as far as Virar, Panvel, Baramati (near Pune), Nashik and Chalisgaon. In fact, some years they are not able to meet the demand. However, this year the demand has dropped as farming in the State has been affected by a severe drought.

The Mandal earns a gross amount of about Rs. 20,000 a month from the sale of the compost. Sale of plants from the nursery brings in about another Rs 5,000 a month. The Mandal employs three workers (one full time and two part time) to maintain the compost yard. Labour and other expenses such as water and maintenance account for about 50 per cent of the gross revenue. With the Savings, the Mandal has been able to pay off the loan within about four years and plough back some money to the Mandal (after deducting administrative expenses) for its various activities.

The composting method used is simple. The flower wastes, after sorting out plastic bags, is piled in the open, frequently turned and left to decay, for about a month. After this, it is transferred to the compost pits, adding cow dung, and left there for about 15 days. Water is added to the pits occasionally. Composting is complete in 45 days.

Thus this localised waste management seems to be self-sustaining at the current level of operation. What problems does the Manadal face? Water, for example, is a major problem. With no water connection, they have to buy water in tankers (two tankers a month at Rs. 600 per tanker) which is expensive; this also limits watering the pit. At times, as mentioned earlier, sale of compost is a problem, creating financial problems till the slump passes. Manpower is another problem. The work and management needs dedicated and socially-conscious people, says Nasim Inamdar, of the Mandal, who looks after the composting.

What are the constraints if composting capacity is to be increased or if such efforts are to be replicated elsewhere? With the use of more water and grinders to crush the flowers initially, composting would be faster. Vegetable wastes from vegetable markets can also be added but transporting vegetable wastes is expensive, and the Mandal cannot afford it. All this would need more finance, independent water and power connection to run grinders (now there is no water or power connection), and more storage space. If all these facilities are available, the composting cycle can be reduced to 20 days instead of 45 and the production capacity doubled, according to Inamdar. And, in a highly crowded city where land is at a premium, finding enough space for such schemes may be a problem.
2. Triratna Prerana Mandal’s integrated community environmental program
Triratna Prerana Mandal is a CBO of slum communities in Santacruz (West) in Mumbai, running welfare, training (skill development) and cultural programmes for the communities. During the course of their activities, relating to environment and health, the Mandal noticed that the 16 public waste bins in the area overflowed, causing a nuisance and health hazard to slum communities and other residents around.

The Mandal convinced all the residents about the need for better waste management and public hygiene in the area. Forming an Advanced Locality Management group of residents (under a Municipal Scheme), in 2004, the Mandal proposed a “waste bin adoption” and waste management plan to the Municipal Corporation. The plan was approved, following which the Mandal set up its own Garbage Collection and Segregation Centre.

With better waste management, the Mandal soon reduced the number of waste bins in the area from 16 to only six. Part of the mixed (wet and dry) waste generated in the area is segregated into wet and dry by the Mandal’s volunteers and general rag-pickers. The Centre receives about 600 kg of dry waste a day. Six garbage separators at the Centre further sort these recyclable wastes and sell them to waste recyclers, providing livelihood for the garbage separators. The rest of the mixed waste is carried by municipal dumpers to the central dump yard but instead of the three truck-loads earlier now only two truck-loads of waste go to the dump yard from here.

As the waste generated in the area included flower wastes, in 2007, the Centre set up a vermi-composting unit to process about 12 kg of flower waste which it collects separately every day. Following the initial cycle of compost production (in about 50 days), with daily feedstock inputs, the compost unit now yields about 20 kg of compost every 15 days. The compost is used in the nearby municipal public garden (which the Mandal has adopted for maintenance) and a plant nursery, and partly also bartered with farmers for plants for the nursery. The compost is not sold because the work is done by community volunteers, and hence no expenses are involved.

With all these developments have not only reduced the number of waste bins and trucks carrying wastes to the central dump (reducing fossil fuel use and waste treatment costs at the dump yard) but have significantly improved public hygiene in the area. The Centre has also developed portable trolleys for composting which other groups and residential units can use.

Moving ahead, the Mandal now plans to set up a 2-tonne per day bio-gas plant to produce energy using cow dung from a large cowshed nearby and also the biodegradable (wet) wastes from their own area. However, the related proposals and plans submitted to the municipal corporation along with the demand for land for the plant has drawn no response yet.

Interestingly, the Mandal also runs 21 neatly built public toilets and two bath rooms for the community, meeting the daily needs of over 1,000 people on nominal annual or daily charges. The water for flushing and cleaning the toilets and for bathing does not come from municipal sources but from an “ingeniously designed” large underground rainwater storage tank connected to a ring-well; whenever needed, as when the ground water level in the ring-well drops, water from the storage tank is transferred to the well. All this saves millions of litres of piped municipal water annually, according to the Mandal, which is well aware of the threat climate change poses to water resources and the long-term environmental benefits of conserving natural resources. In keeping with this awareness, the Mandal also uses solar energy for lighting the toilets and bathrooms and for heating water. This makes it an environmentally integrated waste management and public sanitation program based on community involvement.

To spread such efforts wider, particularly waste management, the Municipal Corporation should help communities to set up waste collection and segregation facilities with composting units nearby in various wards, says Dayanand Jadhav, the Mandal’s Executive President. The municipality, except for some individual officials, has by and large shown no interest in such community-based efforts, he says.
3. The Khatris convert waste dump to lush gardens
An old stinking waste dump near the Samata Nagar Police Station in the residential area of Kandivli (East) in the suburbs of Mumbai had been for long creating problems for the police and the residents around. Over a couple of decades, the waste dump had spread and grown about 3 metres high. So when, one day in the year 2008, Afzal and Nusrat Khatri, both ardent environmentalists who lived in the locality, came to the police station for some work, the police asked them if they could do something about the waste dump. And the Khatris readily accepted the challenge.

With help from municipal officials (in terms of equipment to clear the waste) and student volunteers from a nearby college, they cleared the dump over three months. They started recycling and composting the wastes, restored the land to health and then built a huge lush garden at the site. Today the area, spread over one and a half acres (0.6 hectare), has over a thousand trees. Varied species of birds have returned. And what was once a stinking waste dump now has an Environmental Education Centre attracting students and visitors. The Centre and the garden is run and maintained with active help from the police and the students. For their efforts, the Khatris received the Central Government’s Indira Gandhi Environmental Award.

The Centre now collects about 150 kg of waste a day (around 50 tonnes a year) from its own garden, nearby buildings and the local municipal market ( waste from the market is brought to the Centre by the municipal corporation). The wastes are recycled and composted by traditional methods (layers of waste combined with mud and some animal dung).

The Centre does not pay for collection, segregation, and transport of waste that comes from outside; these costs are borne by the concerned parties. The composting is done on voluntary work. The Khatris say they do not seek nor get any outside financial contribution.

Cost-benefit analyses are not available, but using municipal cost figures as a proxy, Dr. Emmanuel D’Silva, an environmental scientist, estimates that the economic value of recycling 50 tonnes of waste a year at Rs. 325,000 and the benefit from composting at Rs. 150,000. So the total economic value of recycling and composting works out to Rs. 475,000 per year.

Can the experiment be replicated elsewhere and scaled up? The Khatris believe so. Though they are not in a position to start a new venture at some other location, they are prepared to provide advice to other start-ups. They believe three important ingredients are needed for the success of any venture: passion, hard work, and sustainability (or self-sustenance).

(This report is adapted from a field report of the Khatris’s work by Dr. Emmanuel D’Silva of the Citizens Group on waste management.)
4. HELM’s “tumblers” - convenient composting units
HELM or Heads of all ALMs (Advanced Local Managements) Initiative, based in Bandra West, near Supari Talao, develops and sets up convenient waste composting units known as “Tumblers”. The tumblers, with various capacities, can be used by single or a few households together, large residential colonies, schools and other institutions.

About three years ago, Christopher Pereira, an electronics engineer, was looking for a solution for managing the waste in his own household and that of his relatives living in the same building near Supari Talao. After studying the various methods and systems available for composting wastes and also the problems or inconveniences associated with them, he designed a simple and convenient system - a drum, with holes at the top and the bottom for aeration, held off the ground on a metal stand and pivoted on a rod at the centre which allows the drum to be easily rotated.

To initiate composting, micro-organisms are added to the bin once. The tumbler is filled with wet and dry organic wastes till it is three-fourths full. “The drum is turned on the pivot a couple of times a day which creates an aerobic environment inside the drum that offers a quick and odourless form of off-the-ground composting”, points out Christopher who is the chair person of HELM. He further explains: “The contents in the drum are kept moist but not soggy. If it is too wet, it can smell; to avoid this, dry material ( such as dry leaves, dry grass, paper, card board, saw dust, coconut fibre, coir and wood pellets) is added.” Besides aerating the wastes in the drum, the bottom holes help drain excess water, and the holes at the top act as exhausts. A composting cycle takes about 35-60 days.

With good results to show at home, Christopher was soon able to persuade others to take up composting – neighbours, schools and parishes in the area, etc. With recycling and composting, all the wastes can be used up, and we need not hand over any waste to the municipality, according to Christopher. Besides a clean environment, this would mean enormous savings on waste transport and fossil fuel use, and waste treatment costs at the municipal dump yards.

The drums are in vertical and horizontal designs. The vertical drum has a capacity of 100 litres (or 10-12 kg of waste a day) and can cater to 1-5 families; it can produce about 30 kg of compost a month. Two such tumblers can be used by 5-10 families, and four tumblers can be combined into a ‘composting station” for use by 10-20 families. The horizontal drums have a capacity of 440 litres (20-25 kg waste a day), meeting the needs of 40 families. The use of crushers to break up the wastes into small pieces and compost accelerators can speed up composting and increase yield. The tumblers are designed to be “functional, affordable, sustainable and aesthetic’, says Christopher. HELM installs the tumblers, offering initial training and back-up service when needed.

HELM has installed more than 30 tumbler units over the past two years in Mumbai and outside. These are in schools, churches and other institutions, individual homes, housing societies and farms. Of these, only 60 per cent are still in use. What are the problems? These include poor segregation of wastes, poor balancing of the contents in the drums which leads to smell and other nuisance, putting off users, says Christopher. For success, commitment to the environmental cause and nature’s ways of waste management are crucial, he emphasises.
Coordinated by
Institute for Community Organisation Research
Reach Out Programme at St. Andrews College
Challenge of Climate Justice: The North East Perspective
Minutes of the meeting on Challenge of Climate Justice: The North East Perspective (301 KB)
Presentation on Climate Change and Climate Justice by Prabal Kumar Das (1.49 MB)
Presentation on Climate Justice: The Global and National Perspective by Nafisa (1.41 MB)
Waste Management Meeting held on 25 Feb. at Dadar
Broadly, the meeting decided to continue work in three main directions, co-ordinated by three small groups:
  • To start with, collect suggestions on how to improve day-to-day collection,segregation, processing and disposal of segregated wastes and other issues such as inadequate support from the BMC and submit these to the BMC. A group,including Prabhakar, Poonam, Sarika and Avick, will collate these suggestions and co-ordinate the work
  • To indentify good on-going projects and practices, and study how these can be scaled up and also horizontally spread. What are the issues that need to be tackled? What is the support system needed? Dr. Emmanuel D'Silva will coordinate this group
  • To identify long-term, decentralised and environmentally sustainable technological solutions for waste management in Mumbai. What are the technological options and new technologies available? How can these be implemented? Dr. Rakeshkumar (NEERI), along with others from organisations such as IIT, BARC, TIFR, universities, etc, will coordinate this group
Other Suggestions Included:
  • Programmes to raise awareness among people
  • Sensitise political leaders and corporators to the need and support for good waste management at the ward levels (if necessary, take help from the All-India Institute of Local Self-Government for such sensitisation / training programmes)
  • Evolve a "formal stucture" of citizens' groups, outside the municipal corporation's ambit, to act as a "Pressure Group" in implementing / periodically reviewing progress in decentralised waste management programmes
  • Press for a comprehensive BMC policy on decentralised waste management
Round Table on Climate Change in Wayanad
Minutes of the meeting on Climate Change in Wayanad - Organized at M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation CAbC, Puthoorvayal P.O. Kalpetta On 28.01.2012 By
Radio Mattoli with the support of Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)
  • Meeting starts at 11:25 am with a silent prayer
  • Chairperson Fr. Thomas Therakam pointed the importance of the meeting on climate change and need of the local level actions to mitigate the climate change. He took the attention on matters like increase in temperature, change in rainfall pattern, deviation in the intensity of rain fall and varied agriculture practices of the district
  • The participants were self-introduced after the chairman’s address
  • Mr. Prabhakaran (chief guest) from INECC (Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change) discussed about the impact of climate change in the livelihood of the marginalized people. He pointed about the vulnerabilities of fishing communities in Mumbai. The overuse plastics wastes and low water infiltration to the soil cause the decline of ground water table. As a solution to these he put forth organic farming and low cost energy generation programmes
  • Mr. Jose Sebastian (Co coordinator, Radio Mattoli) addressed the participants and pointed the why and how the forum can discuss the programme
  • Mr. Vimal Kumar (a farmer from MuttilGramaPanchayath) who has recorded the rainfall for the last 30 years pointed the decline in the quantity of rainfall in the district and subsequent loss in the productivity of coffee. In older time 100 bags of coffee is equal to one tone but today 106 bags is needed to make it. He shared his own experiences in the start of rainfall, nature of rain in the district the methods adopted by him for measuring the rainfall
  • Mr. Arun (Research Fellow of MSSRF) discussed his work about the plastic pen use in school children. He studied about the climate change and local level mitigation measures. Six to 12th standard school children of St. Patrick HSS, Mananthavady for a period of two weeks have generated about 5.5 kg of ball pen as waste. Calculated that about 52 tons of ball pens will be generated from 350 schools of the district/year. Every day activities of life can cause the increase in the carbon content of atmosphere. So in the life style that cause increase in atmospheric carbon should be reversed
  • Mr. Dhanesh Kumar (RASTA) presented the 25 years of climatic condition in Wayanad. He presented the decline status of the forests of the district in 1950, 1982and 2008 with the datas from forests department and the images of the satellite that shows status of forest. He took the data collected by Mr.Vimal Kumar (farmer who measures rain) and pointed that the intensity rainfall has been increased in the district. The terrain of the district may speed the soil erosion and the increase in the intensity of the rainfall may worsen the situation. As a solution to these, he pointed that ground water recharge and increase in the forest cover can solve the problem to great extent
  • Mr. P.U. Das (District Soil Conservation Officer) discussed about the CBET factors affecting the climate change. Changes in the Climatic factors, Biotic factors, Edaphic factors and Temperature is the root cause for the climate change. He pointed that the run off coefficient of dense forest is 0.3 the purpose of soil and water conservation measures is to convert every land near to 0.3. To enrich the ground water table he suggests the embankments in the top positions or in the start of every drain may be helpful. As 90% of the streams starting from the forests this approach may increase the level of ground water. Focus should be given to changes in every micro watershed as they form the basic unit of a big watershed
  • Mr. Joseph John (Scientist, MSSRF) has discussed about the impact of climate change in agriculture sections of the district. He pointed about the emergence of new disease to the crops like wilt disease in Artocarpushirsutus (Aanjili / AyiniPlavu) and the blight of the disease in Murikku (the common pepper support tree). The analysis reveals that both these diseases are caused by Phytophthoraspp which is a fatal pathogen to the crops. Change in the climate may sometimes cause the speed in the emergence of such kind of dreadful pathogens. Usage of chemical pesticides in the district is going without any monitoring or control. Pesticide use in the cardamom plantations is estimated to reach 2.5 kg/ ha. It seems to be worlds second highest in area wise application. A cocktail of chemicals and allopathic medicines are using in cardamom, pepper and banana cultivation. Shrinking area under paddy cultivation is another threat to the food security as well as the groundwater recharge of the district. In 1970 area under paddy cultivation was 30,000ha but in 2007 it is reduced to 7000 ha. As a solution to these problems shift to organic agriculture and eco friendly farming practices can help as it is proved to absorb carbon from the atmosphere
  • Mr. Raman Cheruvayal (progressive tribal farmer) pointed that a certain variety of paddy seeds can withstand drought and effectively. The temperature of his childhood is different from today’s situation and urges the need of collective actions
  • Mr. Kuttan Nair pointed that in the former times there were rains continuously for 6 months. The nature of the rainfall was thread like. But now the rainfall intensity is increased and this along with change in temperature is visible in the district
  • Mr. E. J. Jose (FARM Wayanad –NGO) pointed out that the question raised about the concern of western scientists about the ill effects of gas produced by cattle population in India
  • Mr. James (Jeevana) pointed that only the watershed activities can control the climate change problem. Effective implementation and scrupulous monitoring of the ongoing watershed activities in the district may lead to local level actions in climate change
  • Sr. Innocent (Wayanad Social Service Society) pointed the impact of climate change in the health of the people of the district. She urges that more studies and support are needed for the vulnerable peoples of the area specially tribes
  • Mrs. Suma Vishnudas (Researcher, MSSRF) discussed about the politics behind the climate change especially the European nations allegation about the cattle population in India is responsible for the climate change. She pointed that in early time itself India had many cattle’sespecially with tribal communities. At that time there was no climate change. Mass awareness and local level actions are needed about the politics behind the subject
  • Mr. Madahvan (a farmer) discussed about the experience of his life and climatic conditions. He urged that every farmer of the district need to know about the impact of climatic factors in agriculture and livelihoods of the people. The government level actions are to be taken to mitigate this
  • Mrs. ThulasiVijayan (Tribal Women Leader) pointed the importance of discussing such a subject. Mass awareness generation programmes is needed among the tribal communities and actions among NGO’s & government departments are crucial in addressing climate change
  • After lunch the group gathered again and the discussion continued. Action points like continuous radio talk on this subject by the experts of Veterinary University (Vythiry) specially in subjects like Methane gas emissions from cattle should be included. Experts from RARS Ambalavayal (Regional Agricultural Research Station) have to be included in the discussions and more farmer level experiences also to be included
Mr. Jose Sebastian (Programme Co ordinator, Mattoli) concluded the session by pointing out every participant comments about the subject and assured that Mattoli will stand onthe side of people to make the issues noticed by the authorities concerned. He formally thanked to every member and the session was concluded by 4:00 p.m.
Reach Out Programme at St. Andrews College