Visit to Dattapur, Wardha
Do you still remember the terms Ecology, Sustainable living, Environment, Non-Conventional energy etcetera? Yes, the very terms that we've heard in our Environmental Education (E. Ed) classes years ago. The ones we all listened to half heartedly yet studied because it was a compulsory subject. And the rare moments when we paid attention in class, we often wondered if what we were doing for the environment was enough? Sure, we might at times switch off lights when we remember, lessen the use of plastic bags, plant more trees or worry about the melting of icebergs. We DO care about the environment, but is it really enough? And sure, the E.Ed classes did teach us various eco-friendly methods but didn’t we wonder at that time if those were really practical and implementable?
When we got the chance to visit Dattapur, we expected it to be nothing more than a boring field visit. But we were startled to see all our doubts reduced to dust. Nestled amidst the greenery on the Nagpur road was this place, Dattapur which had “Centre of Science for Villagers” (CSV). Well that was the most exciting thing about that place, “Science” & “Villagers” coming together!
As we stepped in there, a row of red and white houses caught our attention and that was what we were most curious about. And after strolling around on our own for sometime, we found the supervisor of that place who gave us a detailed excursion of the place.
How about a house that would be cool in the excessive Wardha Heat and warm in the cold besides being strong enough despite using locally available material & yet Cost-Effective? We also came to know that those red and white houses we were pondering at, were actually a part of the “Ecological Housing” scheme.
For a sunny, rural dominated and underexploited area like Wardha, the energy requirements as in electricity, cooking gas etc are high but not within everyone’s reach. At such a time, non conventional energy resources like “Agro waste chulha”, “Solar energy” as used in 'cookers', 'water heaters' and a 'street lighting system' that utilised solar energy and a “biogas plant” come to the rescue which in addition to the above advantages are also more efficient than the conventionally used energy resources.
They also employed “Watershed Management”, “Organic farming” that developing 'herbal pest repellants', 'bio fertilizers' and 'modern nursery' techniques, “Forest resource management” using an architectural pattern of plantation with a higher productivity, “Rain water harvesting” and units for ‘food processing’, ‘natural dyeing’, ‘herbal cosmetics’ and ‘medicinal & aromatic herb processing’. In addition to being eco-friendly these practices also provide employment to a large population which contributes in solving a major problem of the country .
Apart from this, Dattapur also has a bunch of “Rural Industries” which manufacture 'irrigation pipes', 'magan (smokeless) chulhas', 'sheetal pot' (poor man’s fridge), 'banana boards' which can be used in walls and roofs, 'honey collection' and agricultural tools like 'steel bullock carts'.
The “Total sanitation project” was another highlight which was an initiative taken by Mahatma Gandhi & is now being carried forward by the CSV team which involves management of human, animal & agricultural solid waste & water. This has been extended to a “Sanitation Park” which serves as a brainwave for initiation of similar projects in the country.
In view of the bright prospective that this place offers, it has now turned into a major “Training Centre” which is being sponsored by the govt. Of India, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP etc.
After all this, we could only think of the benefits that these practices would have, had they been implemented on a larger scale i.e. for a booming urban society. And now realizing the essence of that “Additional” subject E. Ed. of school times, which though being really boring then, taught us the most “Cutting-edge” details about Environment in THEORY & Dattapur is an excellent example of its IMPLEMENTATION.