While the 5,000 trees around Fort William constitute the green lungs of the city, Army officials want to add to the numbers. “Given the population in this area, we need 20% more trees. And it is not just about planting trees. It is also about water and energy conservation, garbage segregation, recycling and so on,” said Lieutenant General MM Naravane, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command of the Indian Army.
Besides planting saplings, the officials have taken up initiatives like rainwater harvesting, water conservation, solar-generated electricity, biogas generation, waste management and so on. While pipes to catch rainwater have been installed on the roof of several buildings in Fort William, solar panels have been erected on the barracks. “We have also started wet and dry waste segregation from its source, our kitchen. We are working on our existing water treatment plants, so that we do not release contaminated water in the Kolkata Corporation’s drainage system,” said Major General BK Repswal. He said the Army also wants to create awareness. “We want to make people aware and have undertaken programmes like screening of docus and films on the environment, hosting fairs to promote recycled items etc.” The initiative, Go Green, has found support from Berger Paints. Recently, there was a painting competition where 600 schoolchildren took part.
The united stand
There are about 72 clubs around Maidan, an area owned by the Army. All are given a set of regulations to maintain the property. “We’ve asked them to create a plastic-free zone around the 500-metre radius of the club. Also, no solid waste can be burnt. To run kitchens, clubs need permission from the Pollution Control Board. We want them to take a pledge with us, so that these clubs do not contaminate the area,” said Major General Repswal. The clubs too are happy to extend support. Debjani Das Gupta, president of Calcutta Ladies Golf Club, said, “We follow the dos and don’ts diligently. We play golf in that area and, hence, it is important for us to keep our ground clean. Our club area is an open one and many people come for picnics. After the revelry, we clean the plastic cups, plates and other garbage strewn on the grounds.”
Green activists rejoice
The initiatives are welcomed by the environmentalists. “Kolkata’s pollution, both in terms of air and water, is worrying. The pollution often takes place due to avoidable factors like using diesel in public transport and so on,” said Subhash Dutta, adding, “Unlike Delhi, the vehicle density in Kolkata is also high and that affects the environment adversely. The Army’s initiatives are commendable. Though I fought with Fort William on many occasions, I have to admit that these officials take care of our surrounding way better than the civil administration.” Army officials too are optimistic. The drive started on World Earth Day (April 22) and they are willing to take stock of the situation on World Environment Day (June 5). “While Fort William is just a dot on the face of Mother Earth, this Go Green initiative will have a lasting impact on the inhabitants,” said Major General RS Bhadoria. Sudhir Nair, General Manager, Marketing, Berger Paints India Limited, told us, “We found a great fit in associating with the Go Green initiative as Berger Paints strongly believes in creating sustainable ecosystem through eco-friendly products. Also, since the initiative was championed by the Indian Army, we needn’t think twice before supporting this noble intitiave.”
All about the Initiatives
Rainwater harvesting: Catchment areas are created to reuse the rainwater
Water conservation: Water treatment plants have been set up. While the water is being treated to the secondary level, the
officials are taking measures so that no contaminated water flows out to the Kolkata Corporation drainage system
Solar energy: Solar panels are set up on building rooftops
Waste management: Bins have been installed and the residents are briefed on wet and dry waste segregation