Our Green Hero! A Story from Mirzapur…

In the last couple of decades, efforts to render cities environmentally and socially sustainable have culminated in a new phenomenon – the so-called eco-city. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the term ‘eco-city’ remained mainly a concept, a collection of ideas and propositions with practical examples relatively few and far between.

Since the mid 2000s, the phenomenon appears to have become increasingly global against the background of the international recognition of the scale and severity of climate change and rapid urbanisation taking place particularly in the developing world.

As the green movement continues to gain momentum, cities across the country are asking what they can do to become greener and more sustainable. This article highlights the work of a champion who is proudly serving his beloved city, Mirzapur in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Debadityo Sinha, prize winner of the Best Story Award under ‘The City I Want’ Campaign1 is a self-trained young environmental activist, film maker and an expert in conservation outreach. While studying in university doing his Masters in Environmental Science and Technology, the apathy of the authorities towards the natural heritage of the Vindhyan range caught his attention. It made him start a civil society organisation by the name of ‘Vindhya Bachao’ to work on issues of waste management, environmental governance and policy advocacy. Debadityo’s documentary film ‘Vindhyan Scourge’ became a source of inspiration to many and helped address several issues with the help of the mass media.

One of Debadityo’s and his organisation’s biggest achievements has been the revival of eco-tourism in the previously waste ridden waterfall area in the Vindhyas close to the city of Mirzapur. Tourists had stopped going to the beautiful Windham falls, Tanda falls and Lower Khajuria falls as there was piles of garbage dumped there. Debadityo along with a number of other student volunteers cleaned up the entire waste from the forest. The local media was involved in highlighting the change. Soon, eco-tourism to this belt of the Vindhyachal range revived. This helped generate more jobs and boosted the local economy.

Debadityo is also known for successfully banning polythene use from the BHU South Campus situated in Mirzapur. He started organising several open debates in the university on issues of waste recycling and safe disposal of hazardous waste materials. This resulted in a ‘zero waste policy’ for BHU being made for the first time. Shopkeepers have now voluntarily stopped giving items in polybags.

Presently Debadityo is engaged in increasing transparency and accountability in environmental clearance processes for industrial projects in the area. We wish him all the best in his efforts to clean his city and its surrounding areas. q

Vandana Saini

1 ‘The City I Want’ Campaign started by Development Alternatives is a youth led social media initiative aimed towards improving the current environmental scenario of cities in India.

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