This family’s resolution has helped over 2,000 stray animals and recycled tonnes of waste paper

By Hema Vaishnavi|31st May 2017
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Vasudha, Vivek, and their mother Neeru Mehta been ‘awakening’ a sense of responsibility in people through their organisation Jaagruti.

Credit : Kavita C Dixit

Having spent her teen years hooked onto shows like ‘Living on the Edge,’ a ‘90’s TV show made by the Alva Brothers that highlighted environmental concerns of the country, Vasudha Mehta knew that she didn’t want to follow conventional professions of being a doctor or an engineer, and instead wanted to make her career in the field of environment conservation and animal welfare.

Vasudha was inspired by TV channels National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet and often dreamt of being part of TV crews and observing nature and its beings from up close and documenting their stories.

This dictated the course that she would later take in her life in terms of her career, her passion, and how she started Jaagruti Trust, along with her mother (Neeru Mehta) and brother (Vivek Mehta), in 2009.

For the love of animals

After finishing her studies in 2006, Vasudha worked at People for Animals with Mrs. Maneka Gandhi and Wildlife SOS at their Agra Bear Rescue Facility for about 2.5 years, where she learnt her own lessons of ‘love and loss’ the hard way.

Ever since, Vasudha has been trying to ‘inform and inspire’ street animal caretakers across the country in learning and using laws and information to safeguard animal rights and learn street animal first aid to help heal the animals.

“This is all being done through the work that we do under Jaagruti 2009.

My mother has raised us both as a single parent and it’s in stray dogs that we found our best friends and Jaagruti is the and will always remain a tribute to the first stray dog we befriended and named Bhooru who passed away in 2007, after giving us seven wonderful years of companionship,” says Vasudha.

Jaagruti runs a dedicated on-site street animal first aid, treatment, and vaccination service in Delhi, which it started in July 2014. Till date, Jaagruti has undertaken 1064 treatments and 1100 vaccinations on the street.

Jaagruti engages local caretakers in the process of treating the animals, a major percentage of which are those that are looked after by lower income group roadside dwellers or people living in slums. Local caretakers are often people who reach out to Jaagruti seeking for help. By including them, Jaagruti ensures that “people locally start getting more informed on first aid treatments and start taking responsibility for ensuring the well-being of neighbourhood animals,” as Vasudha says.

“Jaagruti believes in educating and empowering the caretaker to learn and serve other street animals in need independently through the knowledge they have acquired by observing us at work and participating in restraining the animal in need during treatment till the animal has recuperated,” says Vasudha.

For the love of nature

In May 2012, Vasudha left her job and started dedicating her time to Jaagruti Waste Paper Recycling Services.

 

Vasudha and Vivek, who jointly run the social enterprise, say that with the bulk of municipal waste management budget being allocated to transportation and collection, there is no money left to grade waste in different categories and reprocess/recycle it efficiently.

According to Indian Agro and Recycled Paper Mills Association (IARPMA), the country uses around 11.5–12.5 million tonnes of paper every year. Statistics convey that of the paper we consume as a nation, only about 20–30 percent get recovered and reach a recycling mill, thus leaving the rest to rot at a landfill site and adding to our greenhouse gas emissions.

Jaagruti Waste Paper Recycling Services started its operations in December 2011 and today extends its services to over 250 institutions across various platforms in the Delhi NCR region, some of which include diplomatic establishments like embassies of Greece, Italy, Belgium, and Sweden, central government institutions like Central Bureau of Investigation, Medical Council of India, National Informatics Centre, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, and BSF’s Medical Directorate to name a few.

The waste paper collected from various institutions is systematically graded at the unit before it is transported to a recycling mill where it is processed to make different qualities of recycled paper and board, by using Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) bleaching technology.

As per standard industry parameters made available on the USEPA Website, one tonne of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 26,281 litres of water, 264 kg of air pollution, 1,752 litres of oil, 4077 KW hours of energy, and 82.62 cubic feet of landfill space.

We have helped recycle close to 17,00,000 kg/1,700 tonne of waste paper so far. Before discarding waste paper in a general dustbin, you may do well to remember that paper doesn’t grow on trees, but rather about 17–22 full grown trees are cut to make one tonne of paper, says Vasudha.

 

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