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For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)
Express News Service
HYDERABAD: In the last one year, the world has been through a lot -- a pandemic and a string of disasters. Hence, the theme for this World Environment Day has been right rightly selected as ‘Restoration of Ecosystem’.
When it comes to the little bits is nature that we are left with in our concrete jungles, we often neglect what’s happening and the changes taking place, all because of sheer lack of awareness. While on one hand our country struggles to ensure that its Covid patients breathe, have we ever thought of saving those tiny leaves growing in our backyards and gardens?
You read it right. These leaves, which used to be discarded, are now being restored by a few people in Hyderabad because these can help sustain the environment. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Speak of environment and activists in Hyderabad can draw up a list of issues plaguing the city. In the context of the times we live in, we speak to these concerned individuals and find out the gifts Mother Nature has hidden for us in plain sight.
Lubna Sarwath, a social activist and economist known to raise her voice on environmental issues, talks about the importance of protecting the existing greenery. “To understand the environment, we first need to check the parameters of the years passed by and how it is now. Today, the only thing people are doing to ‘save their environs’ is planting saplings. No one has a clue about what they are planting and what goes into nurturing it. It is simply an event-based activity and not environment-based. We should have the basic information about the sapling and need to understand where and how to plant it,” she says.
A witness to felling of decades-old trees, Lubna is furious at the way nature is being axed to develop a ‘smart city’. “This has to stop. We all need a smart city, but one should not forget that smart cities start off with smart citizens and we have to be aware of our green surroundings so that we can protect them. Not just on one day but know the importance of it constantly.”
Kalpana Ramesh , a designer, entrepreneur and water conservationist, cannot stress enough about the need to understand the importance of a green environment and restoring it. “We consciously believe that we are a part of the environment, but we actually don’t have anything that can be called the environment. When you see the benefits in nature, you can see the benefits in your wellbeing. We believe that we need to buy veggies and stock it up in the fridge, but this is not necessary at all. You can find something in your garden every day, which you can pluck and cook. Once you make the environment a part of your life, you will fall in love with your lifestyle,” she says.
Throughout this pandemic, Kalpana has been one of the few people in the city who has not hoarded and fussed about running errands well in advance. “I can pick something from my garden and make a meal out of it. This is how restoration starts. I have rainwater which is sufficient for all my household needs. Blaming the government all the time does not make sense. We need to do our bit as well, we are educated citizens,” she says.
Madhulika Chaudhary, who is also an environmentalist and founder of Dhruvansh organisation which restores lakes, focuses on how everything on this planet is important and the need to preserve it. “There’s nothing on Earth that is called weed and nothing that grows here is useless. Every plant has a nutrient because it is absorbing from the soil and many are used as micronutrients. A lot of people do not understand that plants around us are useful, even these so-called weeds. Nowadays, people are opting for hybrid and organic produce; everyone needs a clean mango or vegetable. But they do not understand that these things are actually destroying us.”
There are also a handful of plant lovers in the city, who rarely walk into a grocery store but have been living off their kitchen gardens. It’s not a result of the on-and-off lockdowns but they’ve been doing it for a while now. Gopi Chandara Rao, who works for a corporate company, has a huge garden around his house, in which he grows Ayurvedic plants, apart from the veggies. “We have trees around our house, coconut, mango, almond, custard apple, etc. I keep finding these small saplings growing in my garden and do not discard them. These are useful for diabetes or other ailments. I feel lucky to be preserving these plants,” he says.
Sheba, a student, has a small garden in her compound and loves planting trees. “It makes me happy. Even if it is a small root, I plant it in a pot. Sometimes, I even plant the seeds that I find in my kitchen and I have a vegetable growing. I cook these later,” she says.
Like Gopi and Sheba, this World Environment Day let us try to save the little nature that’s left around us. It is the only thing that promises a better and secure future.
The theme of this World Environment Day is ‘Restoration of Ecosystem’. In this context, we speak to environmentalists in the city about the gifts that Mother Nature has hidden for us in plain sight
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