Tag Archives: Gujarat

Drop Dead, Mumbai!

Mumbai Dead Drop‘Drop Dead’, a foundation started by AabidSurti offers free plumbing services to residents of Mumbai, saves water one drop at a time.

AabidSurti who lives in Mira Road, a Mumbai suburb, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hindi Sahitya Sanstha of the Uttar Pradesh Government in 2007. He is a painter, cartoonist, author, playwright and water warrior.

In 2007, AabidSurti read an article that talked of how much water was lost for every drop wasted. “One drop wasted in every second implies a 1000 litres of water being wasted in 24 hours. That’s quite a count! I grew up in shanties in Mumbai when I came from Gujarat and I know the value of water. That led me to set up Drop Dead Foundation,” he says. The aim of the Foundation is to fix leaky taps and help save water. Every Sunday, Surti goes door to door doing just this.

Tejal Shah, the chief co-ordinator of the Foundation, joined Surti five years ago. She goes door-to-door to various apartment complexes to get permission to enter their premises come Sunday. Many apartments have already called them. “We don’t enter the premises without permission. We understand that people are hesitant to open their doors.” But getting prior permission doesn’t imply that everybody allows them to fix their leaky taps.

The most common problem is that the washer has gone bad. She says, “It costs me Rs.20-35 to just buy the spare part. The expensive component of the repair is the plumber’s labor cost and we provide that. But even then, we find people who don’t want to fix it.” Rather than get bogged down by such responses, they just go and save the next drop. Once they’re done with the apartment, they make arrangements for their next visit and also drop off a poster the following Monday.

Plumber Riyaz Ahmad checks the reason for the leak.

PlumberPlumber Riyaz Ahmed also joined Surti three years ago. He found the painter’s work and perspective of saving water drop by drop very interesting. So he offered his services for free. But over time, people have come forward to fund the foundation, so he takes away Rs. 500 every Sunday for his services. These funds come from philanthropists and people who see Surti at various conferences and want to support this simple but effective task.

Together, the trio manage to spread awareness on saving water. Once the leaky pipes are fixed, they stick a small poster right next to the wash basin.

Let’s save every drop!

Let's save every dropThe poster reads: ‘Save every drop or drop dead’, a message AabidSurti has carried on. After this poster is stuck, they take the name and address of the person whose pipe they have fixed. Till date, the trio has visited more than 6000 homes in Mira Road area. Surti says, “What I am doing is not unachievable. It is simple. You can take up this cause too.”

He has inspired a few people. They write to the painter, who promptly sends off his material–the poster–via mail. He says, “One only needs to be determined to continue this. You can join the team on any Sunday. Just call us at 09820184964 and save every drop or drop dead.”They are funded by various agencies and authority holders of housing societies. The only money required is for the spare parts and plumber’s fee. The plumber fee is very nominal–just Rs500 each Sunday, regardless of the number of the visits.

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Bhaskar Save : “Gandhi of Natural Farming”

Bhaskar Save, acclaimed as “Gandhi of Natural Farming”, is a 92 year old man who has redefined the principles of natural farming incorporating Gandhian philosophy into the agricultural practices. He owns a 14 acre orchard farm, with 10 acres covered by a mixed crop of coconut and chikoo (sapota) and a few tree species. Another 2 acres is used for cultivating seasonal field crops in an organically sustainable manner. And the rest 2 acres is a nursery for coconut saplings that grow well in the coastal region of the location.

“Coooperation is the fundamental Law of nature”, reads the sign at Bhaskar Save’s farm, Kalpavruksha, located on the Coastal Highway near village Dehri, District Valsad, in southernmost coastal Gujarat, a few km north of the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

Bhaskar supports the theory that nature is only creator. He says that there are six factors of nature that interact with sunlight and maintain a balance in Nature’s grand symphony. These are air, water and soil along with the three orders of life – vanaspatisrushti (plant kingdom), jeevsrushti (insects and smaller organisms) and pranisrushti (animal kingdom).

Today’s farming practices are more economy centric as opposed to sustainable farming. The pressure on farmers for increase in yield has led them to resort to measures that are unhealthy for the soil and the organisms in them. Excessive uses of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have direct effect on soil organisms and on us when we consume this infected harvest. Later these pollute the water bodies and aquifers.

Save adds,” Trying to increase Nature’s ‘productivity,’ is the fundamental blunder that highlights the arrogant ignorance of agricultural scientists.  Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most abundant in her yield. When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months, where is the need to increase its productivity! What is required at most is to help ensure the necessary natural conditions for optimal, wholesome yield.”

Eight years ago, Save wrote an open letter plea to M.S. Swaminathan, then chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, highlighting the issue of farmer committing suicide across the nation. His letter presented a devastating critique of the government’s agricultural policies favoring chemical farming and made a plea for fundamental reorientation.

Bhaskar Save’s farm yield is superior to any farm using chemicals. This is true in all aspects of total quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency, and economic profitability. The costs (mainly labor for harvesting) are minimal and external inputs almost zero.

The farm will soon launch an in-house training program at the farm to educate farmers on natural and organic farming practices.

This will change the way we grow our food, the way we enjoy the fruits Mother Nature has to offer in its purest and sweetest form.

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Power & water crisis-III: Get your home in order, will you?

Litre LightPaintingThe cost of power

There is also the cost the government incurs to generate energy. It is way beyond what we pay. In Pondicherry, people pay a paltry Re.1.50 per unit consumed while it costs about Rs.18 per unit for the government to produce/procure the power. Who bears the deficit? In Bangalore we pay Rs.4 per unit on an average. In Gujarat, Kerala and AP, people pay a little over Rs.8 a unit used. In Tamil Nadu the tariff for homes is about Rs.5. These deficits in cost recovered will guarantee that this route of power generation and distribution with massive subsidies will not sustain for too many years. Continue reading

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