|Volunteers of the Ecotourism Society of Northeast at work
The 65 members of this NGO call themselves “green soldiers” and they strive to leave no stone unturned for creating a green Northeast. Set up in 2010 with an objective to bridge the gap between local people and the tourism industry, the Ecotourism Society of North East aims at development and upgrade of tourism in the region.
“We are a group of young professionals having expertise in sectors such as tourism, hospitality, foreign language and yoga,” said Gautam Dutta, the president of the society. Incepted with a motive to preserve and conserve the tourism resources of the region, the NGO started at the Pub Sarania residence of Kishore Talukdar, its general secretary.
The NGO has taken up several initiatives to generate awareness such as “Tree Bihu”, “Green Love”, “Green Pandal” and many more.
“Tree Bihu” is a unique tree plantation festival on Rongali Bihu, which marks the Assamese New Year and the advent of spring. It’s a week long campaign from April 13 to 20, wherein the people are asked to plant at least one sapling. “The campaign stands firm on the belief that planting a sapling on this auspicious occasion will boost the initiative of saving our environment from imminent degradation. Also on October 30, we plant saplings in different areas of the city,” he said. This year , 80 soldiers (including students from various colleges in the city and state) travelled to different locations of the Northeast to plant saplings in traditional attire with the local people.
Valentine’s Day is a special day for those in love. So, the society decided to promote one unique concept of how green is your love? One can express their love by gifting eco-friendly products on Valentine’s Day “Or we can gift traditional products made by local weavers and artisans to our better halves. This in turn will provide employment to local people or people living in the rural areas,” Dutta added.
On February 13, they distribute old clothes and toys among the needy people in the city. Then on February 14, they request the shop owners and vendors to sell flowers not wrapped by plastics but by paper. They also encourage people visiting various parks and zoo not to throw plastics and polythene.
Then again every year, the riverfront witnesses a large number of picnics and parties in the run-up to New Year’s Eve. People celebrate, but sadly, they don’t realize the volume and kind of waste they leave behind and the damage it causes. Wastes such as plastic and glass bottles, plates, polythene and leftover food and the like, pollute the riverfront. This in turn has both immediate and long term impacts.
“So to promote an eco-friendly picnic, dustbins were set up at different picnic spots and picnickers have been encouraged to use them. The dustbins are picked up in the evening and dumped in the GMC vats,” he said. Under Green Pandal, the society encourages committees to organise eco-friendly pujas. “The response has been positive as some committees that have adhered to the green concept has increased over the past couple of years,” said Dutta.