New Delhi: Children of India are leading the way to try undo the damage done by the previous generations. Whether it is clean air or water, children today have inherited a planet that is choking, contaminated and on the verge of catastrophe. On children’s day today, school children from the national capital – New Delhi decided to fight for Swachh Air. Hundreds of the little warriors are protesting with hand-made black flowers symbolising the polluted air they are breathing and making a plea for Clean Air to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last year, many children from Delhi has handed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal fresh roses pleading for a mask free Children’s Day in 2017. But, sadly, they have been let down! Today, children are appealing to the Prime Minister for their right to breathe.
There is hope as children turn agents of change, from toilets to cleanliness drives and innovations that can reduce the waste burden from the planet, here are some of the children who are getting their hands dirty in trying to cleanup the current mess and make a difference.
Kumhari village in Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat district is today one of the open defecation free villages, and the credit for the success goes to an 8-year-old swachh warrior. Tushar who suffers from speech and hearing impairment since birth, was not in favour of the age-old tradition of open defecation in his village. He saw many people in his neighbourhood practice open defecation, and belying his age and physical condition, he decided to take on the challenge to fight open defecation. Tushar knew if he wants to end open defecation in his village he will need to educate his villagers. First, he started getting up at 5 AM every morning and before going to school, went from door-to-door simply to tell masses not to defecate in the open. Via simple hand gestures, he would ask people not to opt for open defecation.
Tushar covered 30 to 40 houses daily from early morning and after that, went around the village to catch hold OF the defaulters. With whistle as his tool, he used to stop people from open defecation. On spotting, the Swachh crusader used to continuously blew his whistle till they stopped defecating. Today, thanks to Tushar’s efforts, the village has successfully eradicated open defecation.
Hailing from the village of Lahawarpora on the banks of Wular, Bilal Ahmad Dar lost his father in 2007. The tragedy forced him to give up his education and earn a living to support his mother and two sisters. With no other job options available, Bilal was forced to become a ragpicker. His morning started on his canoe navigating the vast expanse of the Wular Lake to pick up waste including polythene, plastic trash and floating carcasses. The young boy alone has cleaned UP around 12,000 kg waste annually from the lake. Moved by his efforts, the Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed him as the brand ambassador of Srinagar Municipal Corporation. He will now travel across the valley campaigning for cleanliness and for preserving the beauty of the valley.
His efforts, even got applauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 36th edition of his monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat. PM Modi congratulated Bilal Ahmad Dar for his swachhta efforts.
In our country around 40% of the food produced gets wasted even before it reaches your plate, moved by this fact , a class 12 student, Dikshita Khullar, from G.D. Goenka Public School, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi made a prototype of a ‘magic-fridge’ which can run without electricity and can help combat food wastage issues. The young innovator has simply used bricks, sand, jute bags and bamboos to make this prototype of the magic-fridge which can hold up to six crates or 120 kg of vegetables and can keep the veggies fresh for seven days.
Her innovation consists of one big rectangular structure constructed with bricks and another small rectangular structure that is built inside the big rectangular chamber. Using the basic science phenomena, some space has been left in-between both of these structures, and the gap has been filled with sand. The upper part of the chamber IS covered with the bamboo lid and that’s all that there is to this simple innovation.
All the user has to do is water the chamber every 2-hours because that’s what will keep the inside area cool. This chamber can keep the temperature 10-15 degree Celsius lower than the outside temperature and maintain about 90% relative humidity.
Feeling disappointed and humiliated that most in India are deprived of a basic necessity – toilet, a young girl from Jamshedpur started a sanitation crusade. She saved every penny she could, including the money that she could have splurged during festivals, just to build toilets for girls in the rural areas. In 2016, this little warrior saved around Rs. 24,000 and built two toilets for the children of Kendradhi village. And, that was just the beginning. Monidrita Chatterjee, the 12-year-old then thought of building toilets with waste products like plastic bottles and fly ash in order to work on two major issues in India – sanitation and waste management. She saved around 3,000 plastic bottles in order to build two plastic toilets in Garur Basa village. Today, Monidrita along with her parents has successfully built more than six toilets in different parts of the city and her plan is to expand slowly and steadily to provide a toilet to as many people as possible.
Impressed by her efforts, Jharkhand government has felicitated Monidrita on India’s 70th Independence Day this year.
Ever heard about a sweeping vehicle made out of waste that can clean an area as big as a school playground effectively? A group of 13-year-old swachh warriors from a Panchayat Union Middle School in Konerikuppa village did just that. But more than the innovation itself, it was the thought behind the action that was more moving. They wanted to devise something that could help the elderly lady and save her the effort of cleaning the large compound.
The out-of-the box ‘Swachh Innovation’ – that the children came up with was made up of coconut leaves strung together on a stick in such a way that it has a fulcrum and an arm – the arm is a massive broom made of coconut leaves. The contraption was then put on wheels, so that the vehicle when is moved would sweep the area with the help of coconut leaves. Today , unfortunately the elderly lady is no more but during their free time, these students clean areas of their schools, all by themselves using their invention.
Apart from innovations, according to the government statistics, around 2.90 crore students from 1-5 class and 2.70 crore students from 6-12 class participated in the letter writing competition held by Ministry of Drinking and Sanitation in order to spread the message of Swachh India.
Children have also been an integral part of the 12-hour Banega Swachh India Cleanathons for the last four years. Thousands of students embraced the #Mere10Guz agenda to cleanup at least 10 yards of their surroundings, and participated in clean up drives across India to celebrate October 2 as Rashtriya Swachhta Diwas.