The Telegraph
Sunday , April 20 , 2014
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Tales of green cities

Helen LaFave waters a tulsi plant at the launch of the green ebook at Oxford Bookstore. (Arnab Mondal)

A bookful of green stories from across over India — that’s Pathways to Green Cities, an ebook compiled and launched by Earth Day Network-India to mark Earth Day, April 22.

The ebook has 24 case studies of innovative methods used to save power, reduce waste and make cities healthier. Four of the stories are from Calcutta. They were read out by the contributors themselves.

The ebook was launched by Helen LaFave, the US consul-general in Calcutta, and Bengal’s first lady Padmini Narayanan at Oxford Bookstore on April 17.

Karuna Singh, the country director of Earth Day Network, introduced the stories and explained how the seeds of the book were born. “We decided to amalgamate different case studies in a book so that people read them and get inspired to do something similar. Share with us your green stories and we can come out with a second volume,” she promised.

Every story is different from the other but with the same goal: an effort to save the greens and cut down on pollution. From Mumbai comes an account of rooftop farming of organic vegetables, from Paharpur a story of how fresh mountain air was made available in office buildings, from Chennai an account of rainwater harvesting, and from Jaipur a tale of a designer road and increased traffic mobility.

Tapati Ghosh, the director of Centre for Contemporary Communication (CCC), read out the first story from Calcutta, Where Have All The Parks Gone. It highlighted CCC’s battle to save vanishing parks and playgrounds.

Next up, Ragpickers Turn Entreprenuers is a moving account of how ragpickers around the Calcutta wetlands are empowered and taught how to turn their trash into cash by recycling them. The project was led by South Asian Forum for the Environment.

The third Calcutta story is about Backseat Buddies or the student car pool campaign started by Earth Day Network and the fourth (Butterfly Gardens) is about the open-air butterfly garden in Banabitan, Salt Lake, that helps balance the eco-system.

“We all have our responsibility towards the environment. Small things make a big difference,” LaFave said.