NETWORK –NEWSLETTER – DOCUMENTATION
The real strength of the movement for safe environment lies in the innumerable initiatives cropping up in different areas and at different levels. East and North-East India, while being of the greatest importance for its geographic and biologic diversity, is also a hot spot of environmental destruction. Most people here are directly dependent on local natural resources. Here many of the struggles for life and livelihood merge with the fight to conserve natural resources. In this backdrop, it is only natural that a host of environmental initiatives should emerge from the people.
Area wise meetings with environmental activists are organized, networks are formed and joint movements are chalked out. Issue based media sensitization and campaign initiatives are regularly taken up in collaboration with like minded groups and individuals. ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER – a quarterly on environmental issues and activism in East and North-East India – was once regularly published to ventilate environmental efforts in the region and also to disseminate national and international news and views.
However, constraints beyond our control now prevent us from publishing this journal. Nevertheless, and despite this failing, DISHA continues to keep in touch with groups in this region. A small documentation centre with newspaper clippings, occasional papers, magazines and books is also maintained at the organisation’s head office to support environmental activists.
MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE
Waste has been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, environmental problems of urban conglomerations. DISHA has been active on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) issues since 1995 and has actively worked with municipalities in MSW campaign and management. For the nature and scope of DISHA’s involvement in this area see Municipal Solid Waste.
Along with Municipal Solid Waste, Bio-Medical Waste has been a focal area for DISHA from the very beginning – the concerns being the hazards associated with the latter and it’s mixing up with Municipal Solid Waste. DISHA campaigns for safe handling and disposal of biomedical waste in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. Reduction of the amount of waste and resource recovery through a low-cost but effective method is a salient feature of the campaign. DISHA offers its services to help health care institutions, health and municipal authorities in safe and eco-friendly management of bio-medical waste.
DISHA’s continuing engagement in this area of waste management may be pursued in BIO-Medical Waste.
COASTAL CONSERVATION & FISHWORKERS’ RIGHTS
DISHA supports the traditional eco-friendly sustainable livelihood practices of indigenous people. The coastal area, being the most important ecological interface between land and water and therefore a zone of tremendous ecological significance, demands dedicated conservation and promotion of environmentally sustainable practices. The traditional fishing community, with their largely benign gears and dependence on the natural yield of the coastal waters, is the largest stakeholder in the coastal zone both in number and in environmental concerns. However, faced with depleting coastal resources, members of the community are often forced towards environmentally unsustainable practices.
DISHA strives to organize and involve the fishing community towards a sustainable synthesis of coastal ecology and traditional livelihood practices. DISHA organizes policy level interventions aimed towards protecting coastal environment and rights of fishworkers, both at national and state levels. DISHA conducts workshops, seminars and training camps on coastal issues for capacity building of the stakeholders.
In order to track in some detail DISHA’s engagements on coastal issues, see Coast.
DISHA has been very actively engaged on a number of toxic issues both having global and local significance. See Toxics.
POLYBAGS AND PVC
Disposable plastics in general and plastic carry bags in particular have been a grave problem in waste management. DISHA advocates restrictions on plastic disposables in general and ban on polybags in particular and has been actively campaigning for and working towards this end. DISHA has also initiated a campaign in West Bengal to phase out PVC – the most harmful of all plastics. For DISHA’s involvement with these issues, see Plastics.
GANGA ACTION PLAN
As a part of its efforts to save water bodies and rivers from encroachment and pollution DISHA has been working to facilitate the objectives of Ganga Action Plan.
To this end DISHA sensitizes the citizens to the need of river conservation through padayatras, seminars, exhibitions, cultural events etc. To inculcate the sense of conserving river Ganga among future citizens, stress has been given to organize different competitive events such as speeches, poster drawings, debates and quiz competitions among students. Municipalities and municipal workers are also sensitized to the importance of conserving the river and maintaining the riverfront. DISHA has been assigned with the task of organizing public awareness campaign for Ganga Action Plan by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) in the Budge Budge Municipal Area.
WATER HARVESTING AND SOIL IMPROVEMENT
As an important community based initiative for conservation and betterment of environment, DISHA has taken up Water Harvesting and Soil Conservation project in the Basanti Block of Sundarban. The project is supported by the Sundarban Development Board.
DISHA is planning to develop Digha, the most important seaside resort of West Bengal as an eco-friendly, zero-waste tourist spot. Campaigns are being undertaken on issues such as indiscriminate trawler fishing and alternative energy generation. Use of plastic carry bags in Digha has been stopped as a result of the campaign.
DISHA organized a broad based campaign against proposed nuclear power plant in Haripur in Purba Medinipur. A huge mass upsurge in the locality has resulted in the project being deferred.
DISHA conducted workshops on diagnostic criteria for occupational diseases with Employees State Insurance Corporation and other NGOs.
DISHA is involved in addressing a wide range of environmental problems such as climate change, deforestation, unbridled urbanization, industrial pollution, bio-diversity destruction and other important issues.
DISHA conducts competitions, rallies, exhibitions etc. to spread environmental awareness.