September 12, 2009 was indeed a day of significance for the youth of Hyderabad. No, it wasn’t for the recently concluded internal examinations or the Ramadan Special Happiness Sale at Hyderabad Central! Nor, was it for the fact that Josh was running to full houses in the very first week of it’s release! Well, no prizes for guessing, the youngsters of the ‘City of Pearls’ had come forward to hosting a ‘No Plastic’ Rally on the occasion of the International ‘No Plastic’ Day on the 12th of September, 2009. (Picture – ‘Do something drastic, cut the plastic!’ – Rotaract Club of St. Ann’s! Credits: Candy Floss)
Several organizations like the IYCN (Indian Youth Climate Network), NGOs like Spoorthi and service organizations like Helping Hands for All and COVA (Confederation of Voluntary Associations), the Rotary Clubs and the Rotaract Clubs of various colleges joined hands towards a common motive to spread awareness among the general public and minimize the use of plastic bags. Swetha, Anil, Bharat and Ranga Prasad from IYCN, Mahesh and Bhargav Raju from Spoorthi, Sampath from Holy Mary and Vyshnavi from Human Resource and Development College were the brains and the back stage workers behind the event.
A whopping total of 200 youngsters had gathered at the Parking lot of the Sanjeevaiah Park at 12 pm to discuss the strategy of the programme and to prepare banners and posters. A total of about 150 banners and placards were prepared with the centre of attraction being the huge ‘Plastic Man’ and ‘Cloth Man’. The Rotaract Club of St. Ann’s College, the JNTU College of Architecture, St. Francis College, Holy Mary College, the Human Resource and Development College along with the Andhra Pradesh Environment Connect (APEC) contributed a great deal towards the success of the rally. The actual rally began at 3 P.M. when this huge group of youngsters started off from the Mahatma Gandhi statue at General Bazaar. The participants were divided into many groups and had their respective team leaders leading them.
These budding environmentalists marched through Park Lane, taking a left at the traffic signal from where they took a left at the Paradise junction. On their way back, they came to a halt at two or three shopping complexes and gave the public a ‘flash mob rally’. All through the rally, there were slogans like “No fun with plastic, more fun without plastic!”, “Chodo chodo plastic bags, lao lao cloth bags” high up in the air. “Participants turned out in such large numbers that we, the organizers, were taken aback! In fact, as the rally gained momentum, many passersby and NCC cadets also joined us. Mahesh and I had to run around the Superintendent of Police and the local traffic police to grant us permission to allow the rally to proceed”, says an enthusiastic Anil.
“It was mast to see such a long queue in rows of two, all dressed in white, marching all across the streets of Secunderabad an being the cynosure of all eyes! I’m sure we even caught the eagles’ eye!” chuckles Mahender from Helping Hands for All. Meanwhile Bung Bung from Manipur representing another organization called Green peace, proudly shows off his signature white T-shirt, which reads, “Green your machine, the youth awakens to make India a better nation!”
The entire event was covered by the print and the electronic media alike. A live footage was covered by local news channels like HmTV, ATV and Zee News while a detailed report was given in all the leading newspapers like the Times of India, the Hindu, Eenadu, Deccan Chronicle and Sakshi, the next morning. “I’m extremely glad Swetha, Ranga Prasad, Sujatha, Naresh and all the other event managers put in their best efforts to make this rally such a phenomenal success! I really appreciate the team work of all the participants. Some of them had come from towns as far as Ongole, Karimnagar and Tirupathi to join this rally. The rally has caused quite a stir among the public, which would make them think twice before polluting our environment further. It is heartening to learn that just 20% of the world’s population today, uses cloth bags. Climate change and Global Warming have begun to take their toll. Hence a global campaign, called 350 is going to be held on the 24th of October, 2009, the ‘International Day of Climate Action’, wherein an alarming number of 110 countries are coming together and hosting innovative and creative events to check climate crisis.
The natives of Maldives are hosting scuba diving events wherein they would form a figure of the digits, 350 underwater! The Climate Network in India is also aiming at forming a similar figure close to the Mt. Everest that day!” informs K. Chaitanya Kumar, the National Convener of IYCN. “We also tried to highlight this day of Global Action through our rally. We’re really satisfied that we could draw the attention of one and all just by yelling out slogans, distributing cloth bags and stealing away all the limelight! We could notice that all the onlookers were aghast by the goings- on”, seconds a cheerful Ranga Prasad, who stepped into the shoes of the Plastic Man!
“The educated people are aware of this. The problem, especially in India, lies in the fact that nobody is willing to take the initiative and lead the way. I’m relieved that he masses are waking up to such social and environmental concerns, thanks to the Gen X, who have created a ripple this way”, opines Mr. Raghuveer, an Indian Forest Services Officer.
In another interview with the HmTV, Mrs. Ram Lakshmi, another IFS Officer stated, “Pollution because of plastics is like a price tag put on the earth. The plastics lead to clogging of drains and also choke some cattle to death, when consumed. Plastics contain some carcinogenous chemicals which in turn affect the milk from such cattle. So it is hazardous all the way”. “Plastics, in general contain certain crystals of crude oil called Nuggets, which are obviously imported. So it is yet another way by which we are contributing to the revenue to other countries. On the other hand, cloth and cotton bags are completely Hindustani so they make us feel patriotic too”, says Swetha, the secretary of the Rotaract Club of Secunderabad Sunrise.
The entire rally came to an end at around 5 pm with Mr. Jay Prakash and Mr. Vijay Bhaskar, from a Software Company called Premalayam, which also manufactures paper bags, distributing their produce to all the participants. The participants, then went to reach out to the shopkeepers in the Bazaar to encourage them to replace cloth bags with plastic bags. They enlightened them about the ‘Carrot Mob’ competition, which was a contest for the shopkeepers on who gives away the most number of paper bags and uses minimum number of plastic bags. The incentive to the winner being, total media glare and publicity for his shop.
For all the environment lovers, who would love to contribute their bit, they can get registered with IYCN. Contact Mr. Chaitanya Kumar on 9849016371 or register online on www.350.org , firstname.lastname@example.org or on www.carrotmob.org. After all, planet Earth will continue to sustain life only if we ‘Go the green way and chuck plastic everyday!’