Monsoon Wooding: in pursuit of a green India
Monsoon Wooding is Swechha’s annual environmental campaign that aims at reclaiming the lost green cover of Delhi-NCR. In the last 15 years, concrete expansion has led to the loss of 32,000 hectares of Delhi’s green cover. The two phases of Metro expansion in Delhi saw the felling of over 34,000 trees. For Phase III, while 6,000 trees have already been felled, over 5,000 are facing the axe.
“As an environmental youth group, Swechha has been concerned about these issues and we constantly try to respond to and address them. Monsoon Wooding was another such effort started by us in 2006,” says Vimlendu Jha, Founder, Swechha.
Vimlendu was never one to wait for things to happen. Since his college days, he has been eager and driven to do things that would impact those around him. “I believe we have to bring the change we want to see, the responsibility lies on our shoulders. All of us can make our surroundings so much better every day.”
The Monsoon Wooding campaign aims at expansion of green spaces in the city, and is being implemented by youth volunteers. It is action-oriented, and encourages communities to plant and protect trees, and to take responsibility for creating and maintaining green spaces. Monsoon Wooding’s activities are seasonal in nature, but the campaign’s impact is indeed perennial.
Impact: Creating Delhi’s first mini forest
Since its inception in 2006, more than 1000 Monsoon Wooding campaigners have planted and distributed close to 5000 saplings across Delhi and NCR. This campaign also led to the creation of Delhi’s first mini forest in July 2013 in St. Mary’s School, Dwarka. Vimlendu adds, “Over all these years, we have also organised large scale awareness and cleanliness drives across communities. Monsoon Wooding has received tremendous support from schools, colleges, NGOs, RWAs, media and corporate houses, bringing out the innate goodness and the desire to change within everyone.”
With Delhi having been declared the most polluted city in the world, it is important for the residents of the city to be actively involved in recovering the city’s lost greenery. To make the campaign accessible and solicit the smallest of denominator support, Swechha has partnered with Bitgiving, an online crowd-funding platform that enables individuals and groups to support social and environmental campaigns.
Through this platform, an individual can pledge a tree with just a click. Each sapling requires a support of Rs. 300. This will cover the cost of the sapling, pre-plantation preparation, transport, manure, tools and post-plantation maintenance.
The campaign was launched on February 14, 2014. Within three weeks, almost 395 trees have been adopted by individuals, institutions and organisations. Their aim is to collect support for 10,000 trees by June 5, 2014, World Environment Day. In the process, the campaign team is also mobilising volunteers who will participate in plantation post-June, upon the arrival of the monsoons.
“What motivates me is the idea of change – small and constant change; and to see young people play an important role in nation building. It is extremely motivating to see that the youth of this country are not mere spectators of events and issues around them but have started to come forward to be the change. Swechha is a platform that enables young people to be active citizens and look at innovative and creative solutions to complex social and ecological problems,” says Vimlendu. “The other thing that motivates me is ‘hope’; to hope for a new and a more sustainable future.”
Swechha started in 2000 as a young people’s campaign to raise awareness about pollution in the Yamuna river. “Our aim then was to raise awareness and make people understand that the river could be saved; that it needn’t remain a black, polluted pool which most people had come to recognise it as. Within a few months, the campaign was able to mobilise more than 500 volunteers. As support grew, we were able to register as an NGO in 2001,” says Vimlendu.
The organisation works largely with children and young people on issues of environment, education and citizenship through campaigns, events, training and travel-based learning programmes. The work that Swechha does is diverse and engages people from various socio-economic backgrounds, according to Vimlendu.