Green sentinels: These people are doing their bit to make Delhi clean

Green sentinels: These people are doing their bit to make Delhi clean

Indra, 76, was one of the first residents in south Delhi to start tagging bags and separating plastic from biodegradable waste.
Indra De’s house at Kalkaji Extension is a zero-waste zone.
 
Initially her husband was alarmed by her peculiar habit of storing plastic, old tires, broken pieces of glass and tiles in a room. But that did not deter Indra’s passion for recycling.
Indra’s husband soon saw how, with economy and beauty, his wife re-moulded waste material into flower pots, garden decorations and even built a solar dryer and central cooling system — all for less than Rs 1,000.
 
Indra, 76, was one of the first residents in south Delhi to start tagging bags and separating plastic from biodegradable waste.
 
“Nothing is waste for me. I try and find use for everything thing,” she says.
 
Her message is simple. People miss out on the value of little things. They always think they can buy another one and junk the old as rubbish and useless.
 
Others assume the government will clean up the mess. “Back in Chennai, people always keep their surroundings clean. I simply tried to keep the tradition alive,” says Indra.
 
A successful radiologist in England, Indra moved to India with her children to acquaint them with the country.
 
Since the early 90s, she has involved herself in community events. In 1996, she approached the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to adopt a barren patch of land in front of her house and worked to convert it into a garden.
 
“People were shocked to see me sweep the garden. I did it for my happiness and my plants. The plants are my children,” she says.
 
Indra’s aim is to improve Delhi’s green cover and make people conscious of the importance of recycling waste and she believes everyone can go green if they use their minds just a bit.
 
Her age doesn’t prevent her from living each day to the fullest. At this age, she herself gets drums full of cow dung from buffalo dairies and loads them in her WagonR.
 
She has changed the scheme of her house to optimise rainwater harvesting. With each rain, she saves 5,000 litres of water which she uses to water her adopted garden.
 
Originally published for the Hindustan Times on May 22, 2015
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