Posted in November 2016, Uncategorized

Two problems one solution for green colonies

Vasant Vihar is a clean and green colony.Their two problems were the money they were spending every year on sourcing manure which more often than not was adulterated with mud and chemicals and mounds of fallen leaves every autumn and winters. This year the environmentally conscious lady Inderpreet Kaurof the colony wanted Vatavaran to help them sort their two problems.
We helped them manage dry leaves and make their own organic manure that was not only eco-friendly but cost effective.
Vatavaran has innovated an earth friendly and quick way to compost these leaves.
First step was collecting the leaves , mowing the green grass from the park and procuring cow dung from the nearest dairy.

A large pit 12’x8’x5′ was dug. 10 Kgs. of cow dung was procured and freshly mowed green grass was collected. The pit was layered by fallen dry leaves – green grass- cow dung in 6″-6″-1″thickness. It was sealed from the top and a flag put with the date of burial. Next time the leaves falls , they will be collected , the pit would be emptied of the composted yard waste and after a week or so of airing it will be filled again with this seasons yard waste. From the opened tons of earthy smelling , crumbly organic manure would be obtained, to be used in the same park .
The trees , shrubs, flowers, grass and soil of the park would be very healthy with 2 times composting . No money was spent . Vatavaran volunteers and few community ladies formed a close bondage during this two-day exercise.
On the first day the gardeners were busy in their work and the first layer of vegetation in this case some fresh cut grass of six inches covered the floor of the12 foot long pit this was covered with an inch thick layer cow dung(so that the bacteria can act on the vegetation) next was a layer of around 6 inches of leaves then one inch cowdung and the layers were repeated till the pit was full. Then the same layers were repeated but in decreasing diameter . We were making a small mound instead of the pit being flat .
Then came the leaves from another pit near by, around 6 inches of leaves then an inch of dung. The gardener’s under ours and a lady from the resident environment association’s supervision completed around 4 such layers and the 5 foot pit was almost 70 percent full. The gardeners(2 in number) then complained that they were too tired and they would like to quit. So we decided that the gardeners who had learned the process by then would finish the work early next morning and we would just do the sealing.
The next morning we reached there to find that true to their words the gardeners had finished the job and we just need to add the last layer of leaves , cowdung and green grass and seal the pit. We then instructed the gardeners to make a paste of cow dung and mud by mixing them with water. After they did this they covered the pit with this mixture of mud, dung and water.
Their pit is ready and the leaves are decomposing “Anaerobically” ie without air in this case the germs and bacteria of the dung will help. The compost should be ready in 2-3 months. We will come to know as the leaves in the pit will start sinking and the mound we have made of mud and dung will start sinking. Then it will be time to harvest 100 percent chemical free, backyard made 100 percent organic compost.
During the first visit of the area I had not realized that Vatavaran and B Block Enviro Society were going to have a long term association.
Yashwant Singh
Manager Vatavaran

Posted in October 2016

Diwali- a Festival of Noise & Air Pollution!

From a naïf, pious, ethereal , unworldly festival celebrating the victory of Ram over evil Diwali has become a noisy , disease, scalds, burns, hurts  inflicting, and hearing impairment  festival.


Most colonies in the Capital are already borderline cases because of the din caused by vehicular traffic, and an increase of 20 to 30 dB on Diwali pose a real threat to eardrums. The high levels of noise due to fire—crackers, accompanied by smoke, leads to eye ailments, head aches and nervous problems. The most vulnerable on this day are children, mentally disabled and old people.

Ambient noise standards for a residential area are 55 dBs during the day and 45 dBs during the night. However, on Diwali nights the noise level can go unto 150 dBs.  Hearing loss – temporary or permanent is a serious problem but then there are injuries also on Diwali, nearly 100,000 people are injured or disfigured on Diwali and many of them loose their sight.  There are fires on Diwali taking lives or injuring hundreds of people.  The scenario is grim.


Noise levels on Diwali can cause both pathological and/or psychological disorders. Pathological effects can result from a particular noise frequency that can cause vibrations/ resonance in the body. Psychological disorders range from different phobias like becoming introvert and unable to concentrate on studies or other activities.

Firecrackers are a danger to all animals, both physically and psychologically. Most animals show fear when exposed to the sight or smell of crackers. While house pets quiver and retreat beneath beds, lose their appetite, become snappy and lose weight from stress during this frightening time, some have been known to bolt in panic, jumping through glass windows to escape the explosions. With ears far more sensitive than our own, animals are also vulnerable to permanent ear damage from explosive noises. Older animals are worse affected. The number of lost, traumatized and injured goes up sharply during this period.


Last two years Diwali Enforcement Brigade of Vatavaran surveyed to check if the laws and CPCB guidelines were followed.

  • In 2008 outside Chikitsa hospital in Saket, the people from the neighborhood were lighting high decibel crackers within 50 meters of the hospital. In 2009 there was a little less noise but more of smoke. For a few years law enforcement agencies were alert thus cracker bursting after the prescribed period was tolerable but 2015-16 Diwali turned out to be the worse.


  • In 2015-16, high decibel noise creating crackers were more popular amongst the middle-aged citizens in many residential colonies, the adults were found lighting crackers in the middle of the main roads, grass and under trees. Preferred crackers were Chakris on the grass, anars under the trees and train bombs on roads to follow the moving vehicles.


  • In 2015-16, shops in medium to big markets had licenses but most of them did not comply with the rules like (a) keeping the sand bags (b) keeping buckets of water (c) selling crackers not made by children and (d) selling crackers, which did not produce sound above 125dB. In Alaknanda market, all the crackers sold were from Punjab probably made by children and producing sounds much above 125 dB. There were no crackers from Sivakasi at all in the market. In Hauz Khas and Kalkaji, market, there was a mixture of crackers- some were complying with the CPCB guidelines while some were not. In RK Puram market, no shop had sandbags or water or CPCB guidelines. Shops in residential colonies had not displayed the license, if they had the licenses; the shopkeepers had them in their pockets. In Asian Games Village, the shopkeeper said that he was not even aware that a license was needed. No shop in the rural- urban villages had any licenses. In Tughlaqabad though the police was on duty, the shops were running without licenses.



In 2009, CPCB has allocated a team of 60 people to monitor decibel levels, air pollution, volatile organic compounds in the air and sources of pollution and, Vatavaran’s  200 persons’ work force had  multiple missions; were also on duty  to revive the lost spirit of Diwali, survey the available crackers, help, guide people, examine the shops selling the crackers and where to report.

 Residential areas

Location Recommended

Noise levels

Highest Noise level at a Day time Highest Noise level at Night Average Noise level during Diwali
Old Rajinder Nagar 45-55 dBs

(Residential Area)

60- 80 dBs 60- 80 dBs          2008    2009


100         90 dBs

(too many vehicles in too narrow roads)
Darya Gunj 75 –85 dBs 60- 80 dBs 100      90 dBs
(Narrow Lane, Heavy traffic)
Vasant Kunj 60- 65 dBs 80-85 dBs          85         80 dBs
(Air Crafts)
Green Park 70-90 dBs 70-90 dBs 90          80 dBs
(Printing Machines and Generators)
Commercial areas



Anand Parbat




65 – 75 dBs

(Industrial Area)




90 dBs




90 dBs




100    90 dBs

(Industries set in houses)
Palika Bazaar 55-65 dBs


(Commercial Area)

80 – 100 dBs

(Blaring Music and Echo)



L.N.J.P.Hospital 44 – 50 dBs

(Silent Zone)

68 – 72 dBs 60 – 70 dBs 85 – 80 dBs
(Lack of green cover)

CRT Study:

In 2006, a year long study by the Centre for Research and Fitness examined the respiratory health of 510 people. It found that during Diwali 54.5% developed cough, wheezing and breathlessness. The air had dangerously high levels of NO (over 3ppm-decreasing lung function); So2 (over 6ppm- constricting bronchi); CO (causing shortness of breath and chest pain because, hemoglobin which carries oxygen to various parts of the body, has 200 times greater affinity to CO; and SPM (crackers smoke is richer in SPM as metals like cadmium, lithium, copper and aluminum are added to produce colorful sparks. The pollutants especially free oxygen radicals – damage cellular function in lungs).




Duties  of Diwali Enforcement Brigade of Vatavaran


  1. Help people Choose the crackers they use
  • In 2008, it was ejecting, Big Bombs, and Garland Crackers while in 2009 it was primarily Hawaii’s and Automatic Rockets. .
  • Reduce the number of Cake Bombs and Sparklers.
  • Rejoice with Chakris by lighting them one at a time in an open concrete area,
  • Select Phooljharis with sticks at least 6 to 8 inches long and Anars that do not have Potassium Chlorate.


  1. Help people decide the proper clothing
  • While lighting crackers wear cotton or other fire resistant clothing.
  • Do not wear nylon clothes or loose fitting clothes.
  • Temporary fire retardation can be obtained by soaking clothes in solutions of such chemicals as borax, boric acid, di-ammonium phosphate and ammonium soleplate.



  1. Help people know
  • The bombs and crackers have carbon rich gun powder, and sparklers have chemicals like Sulphur, Lead, and Nitrates of Potassium, Sodium, Strontium, Copper, Barium etc.
  • Toxic gases like release of high levels of Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), and Oxides of Nitrogen are released on Diwali night causing ailments like breathlessness, asthma, headaches, chest congestion, and cough, irritation in the eyes, reduced visibility, and slow responses.


  1. Public awareness related to noise
  • That the violation of laws related to noise pollution, is a punishable offence under Criminal Procedure Code of India.
  • In India 50 lakh, people suffer from noise induced hearing loss and firecrackers are the major cause. Pathological disorders like temporary or permanent loss of hearing, loss of appetite, irritability, high blood pressure and psychological disorders like phobias, loss of concentration, stressfulness, disorientation, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, aggressive behavior etc.
  • Pets must not be exposed to high levels of noise during Diwali night


  1. 5. Ensure the shops selling crackers have
  • A license duly signed by the Area Police Commissioner, prominently displayed along with the conditions for selling crackers as laid down by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Government of India.
  • Ensure that the shop is on ground level, does not sell any thing else, has an area between 9 to 25 sq. meters, has sandbags, fire extinguishers, buckets of water, and is not encroaching the road.
  • It sells bombs, crackers and sparklers which comply with the standards laid down by the Department of Explosives and Environment Protection Act.
  • In Delhi only1373 shopkeepers to sell crackers. Shops that sell crackers should be on a nine metric wide road with all fire-safety equipment in the place. Shop should be on the ground floor. The area of the shop should also be between nine and 25 square meters. No other trade will be allowed from the shop. The power owner must keep proper fire-safety equipment in the shop to prevent disaster. A board with sign ‘no smoking’ should be put up and an adequate number of extinguishers, sand bags and buckets should be placed in the shop. The electrical wiring in the shop should also be fixed and effectively sealed or conducted. Crackers of a prescribed noise level should also be sold. They should not be just out on the pavement. No loose sale of crackers is permitted. Children should not be employed. They should also be within in the authorized quantity and proper records should be maintained.



  1. Report to the local police
  • If the shopkeepers are not following points 4,5 and 6
  • If people are bursting crackers above the prescribed noise level or and after the stipulated time of 6 PM to 10 PM.
  • Pets exposed to high levels of noise during Diwali night
S no. Name Noise level




Manufacturer Rate


1. Rocket: 136 dB Yes Kalahari Rs. 15 for 10 X
2. Shell: 136 dB Yes Kalahari Rs.75for3. X
3. Parachute 136 dB Yes Kalahari Rs.25O for l0 X
4. Green Bomb 162 dB Not declared Kalahari Re. 1 each. X
5. Foil Bomb: 162 dB Not declared Kalahari Rs. 2 each X
6. Flower pot: 157 dB Not declared Coronation Rs. 20 for 7 X
7. Motta Bomb 155 dB Not declared Kalahari Rs. 20 for 10 X
8. China Al Not known Not declared Kalahari Rs. 20 for 7 X
9. Toy bomb 157 dB Not declared Kalahari Rs 45 for 15 X
10. Cake bomb 130 dB Yes Revathi Rs. 80 for 7 X
11. Roll Amorces 149 dB Not declared Kalahari Rs 5 for 1 strip X
12. Garland 153 dB Not declared Kalahari Rs. 100 for 150 X
13. 12 Star 160 dB Yes Kalahari Rs. 250 for 12 X
14. Liberty Bomb 156 dB Not declared Laxmi Shankar Rs. 10 for 30 X
15. Bijli Train Crackers 149 dB Yes No namei Rs. 50 for 100 X
16. Singara 100 dB Not declared  No name Rs. 20 for 40 X
17. Mirchi: 75 dB Not Declared No name Rs. 2 for 25 X
  • Crackers are burst with-in a radius of 100 meters near silent zones like hospitals, nursing homes etc.




Vatavaran’s Survey of Popular Sparklers & Crackers in the Market:


The public buys the crackers and sparklers available in the market. While in 2008 the loud bombs, train bombs, cake bombs had dominated the market, in 2009 it was sparklers– bigger in size, more colorful sparkles. The ear bursting noise levels of 2008 were replaced with smoky sky, watery eyes and breathlessness in 2009. The other replaced one hazard.



Flower pot


Not declared




Rs. 45 for 10#



Chakris Rs. 15/- for 1 # X
Black Rs. 10/- for 3 X
Mayur Bangal Thayilpatti Rs. 10/- for 10 X
Ground Jai Ganga Rs. 80/- for 15 X
Gold Sparkles Vijay Lakshmi Rs. 60/- for 12 X
Jil-Jil Lakshmi Rs. 15/- for 5 X
Colored Sparkles Rs. 100/- for 2 X
Pencil Sparkles Rs. 25/- for 10 X
Saanp Tikki Rs. 2/.- for 12 X
Rail Rs. 2/- for1 X






1 CPCB conditions must be attached to the permission letter shopkeepers get from the Area Police Commissioner.

2 Shopkeepers must be made to sign a document that they have understood the conditions and would comply by them.

3 Awareness creating children teams must definitely have a mixture of adults and children.

4 Enforcement Brigade created by Vatavaran must have its cards signed by some government authority.

5 Other NGO’s should also start Enforcement Brigade


Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo

Founder & Director

Posted in Oktober 2016, Uncategorized

How toys contribute to the problem of environmental pollution?

I spent a lot of my time with my nieces in the last two months. Ana is 6, Ema is 2.  There is nothing more beautiful than spending time with these innocent but naughty girls, understanding how they see the world around them and bringing that beauty of childhood back to me. Life indeed, can be a playground!

I noticed that they are playing with way too many toys and most of them are made of plastics. It kind of shocked me and I wanted to protest. I will not allow something like that. I mean, I am still their aunt, right? I knew, it is not really my decision what they play with but at least I could reduce the amount of those kind of toys whenever they are around me.

For example, some toys like plastic soldiers, baby dolls are responsible for water and air pollution because they leach or discharge hazardous toxins. We are taking so much care of our kids but then they are playing with toys made of PVC plastic, which is the deadliest plastic nowadays.  It is typically mixed with another noxious chemical, phthalate, to make the finished play thing flexible rather than rigid. Two phthalates commonly used in plastic toy production are DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate) and DNIP (Di-isonoyl phthalate). It causes cancer, liver and kidney disease risks, baby girls who develop breast prematurely.  The fact is that kid’s bodies are tinier, so this deadly chemicals race through their nervous systems and concentrate in their organs faster. Since their brains and the other parts of their bodies are still growing, higher concentrations of these toxins cause more harm than in fully developed system.  Not to mention that kids are putting any and everything into their mouths so the toxins from plastic are easily consumed but not quickly removed.

Plastic battery – operated toys are a double –edge sword of polluting toxins because batteries cannot be recycled.

But then I noticed one more thing. My nieces were actually playing more with “toys”.  Different materials and stuffs around them which are in every household are giving them a real life experience and it seems they are enjoying it the most. Baby dolls and plastic cars are just for a while, but I saw these girls playing for 2 hours with the real kitchen material or with cobs outside in the nature. Of course it was the best to have fun with what I was doing – helping me with making cookies, hang laundry or sweep the floor.  They love it if they can do the same as we adults do.

Wooden toys are by far more environmentally friendly and a better choice for children and the Earth. Unpainted, unvarnished, solid wood toys last longer than plastic toys, need no batteries, and encourage kids to use creativity and imagination to create play. Ema got a gift from India –a wooden elephant family and right now this is her main toy.


You can reduce or eradicate plastic pollution by buying fewer plastic toys, or recycling these types of toys rather than disposing them off. Write to your congressional representatives and urge them to lobby for tougher labelling laws so consumers will be aware of deadly plastic in toys.

Plastic toys do pollute, but with increased consumer awareness and cooperation from plastic toy manufacturers, the effects of this type of pollution can be reduced. The best and most sustainable response to “How do toys pollute the environment?” is humankind’s willingness to place stewardship over price and convenience.


Katja Polc, Vatavaran volunteer

Posted in September 2016

Don’t panic: AIIMS Director explains prevention and treatment for Chikungunya & Dengue

From: Press Trust of India (PTI) – Pallava’s Sunday column

Dated: Sept 18, 2016

Titled: No new mutant strain seen of Chikungunya in Delhi outbreak: AIIMS Director

By: Pallava Bagla



NEW DELHI: Large number of people are being afflicted by chikungunya, a debilitating viral disease, in the national capital region and some deaths are also being attributed to chikungunya. Till date, over 9000 cases have been reported from Karnataka while officially Delhi is reporting only 1724 cases, yet in Delhi there is a lot panic due to this viral disease. MC Misra, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, dispels some of the notions held around the chikungunya upsurge in north India. He spoke to science writer Pallava Bagla.

Q: Is there a need to panic because of chikungunya and is it fatal? Why are people dying in Delhi?

A: It is an upsurge and not an epidemic of chikungunya in Delhi. There is no cause for panic due to chikungunya. It is a milder virus, there is no mutation, and the deaths that have been reported might not be only because of chikungunya.

It might be more related to other illnesses. Do not panic and think that everybody who gets chikungunya is going to die. One has seen chikungunya in south India for years and there has never been any panic.

Q) Is it a more virulent strain that is floating around in Delhi?

A: I would say there is no reason for panic because of chikungunya. I will say chikungunya is an even milder virus than dengue. It does not lead to the same phenomenon as dengue shock syndrome since such a thing does not happen with chikungunya. It is self-limiting disease.

The only other aspect of chikungunya is that it gives high fever when it begins which remains for 3-5 days and joint pain. I think joint pain is much more bothersome because of chikungunya and it would rarely kill if at all.

We cannot even blame chikungunya for the deaths as it there might be some associated medical illnesses in some people who are elderly, very young or immune suppressed which might lead to more virulence of the virus which generally happens in immune compromised people.

We used to hear about chikungunya affecting population in Kerala and Karnataka and we used to think that it happens only in that region. Only difference it has made is that this year we are seeing an upsurge of chikungunya instead of dengue. The tests that have been done so far and that have come out positive for chikungunya outnumber dengue.

Sixty per cent of the tested samples are positive for chikungunya; 2-3 per cent for dengue and rest are non-dengue, non-chikungunya. At times even these non-dengue, non- chikungunya virus can become extremely serious.

People have to understand that this is the season when it comes, post-monsoon there is an upsurge and then as the temperature cools down it goes away because the mosquito does not survive then.

Q: So how does a lay person tackle a chikungunya infection?

A: I would basically say follow a 3-H recipe. Home care, hydration and hydrotherapy. Meaning take rest at home, maintain nutrition and hydration and lastly hydro-therapy. It is not that one is putting some wet handkerchief on the forehead or on palms. It is best to cover the patient with very high fever with a good wet sheet to bring the temperature down.

If one thinks that only Paracetamol will bring down the fever that is not going to happen since Paracetamol will bring the fever down from 106 degrees to 104 degrees so if you really want the temperatures to come down which we want actually that it should come below 100 degrees as quickly as possible a wet sheet is the only remedy.

One needs to put a wet sheet over the patient and then put on the fan to a higher speed. This brings down the fever very rapidly and the ill effects of high temperature which can lead to organ damage can be easily avoided. The high fever itself can lead to organ damage, a high fever like 106 degrees if it remains for a considerable period of time can damage the organs.

Q: Why are people dying this year, chikungunya has been around for many years?

A: I think it is just that these people who died have come out positive for chikungunya also. There might be more than what meets the eye in these patients, they might be suffering from diabetes where any illness becomes much more severe. There could be compound infections, there could be both chikungunya and other type of virus so we don’t know.

We need to go into more depth whether it is only chikungunya. There is no mutation that has taken place. People should not panic. Chikungunya is happening to a large number of patients and they are recovering and getting better at home.

Except that joint pain may persist for weeks or some time even months. This generally takes time since if you look at the natural history of this virus it persists in the body for a considerable period of time.

Q: So you are not ruling out it to be a new strain but suggesting that it is unlikely to be a more virulent mutant?

A: It is unlikely to be a mutant, we spoke to virologists and they feel there is no mutation and there is no change in the DNA or RNA of this virus. So they feel it is a common chikungunya virus and they have not seen any mutation.

Q: Chikungunya and dengue both are mosquito-borne so if you control the mosquito you can control the disease?

A: Obviously, but that is something easier said than done because unless we control mosquito in our surroundings by avoiding water logging and accumulation.

We also need to take some more precautions if there are more number of mosquitoes in your vicinity then when walking or when sleeping one needs to cover ourselves, we need to put on full sleeved shirts. With the kind of construction activity under way it is very difficult to eradicate all possible sites for the breeding of this mosquito.

Q: But the aedes mosquito or the tiger mosquito is breeding inside our houses, how can the government have inspectors going into every bedroom?

A: People are not allowing the inspectors inside. The responsibility of getting rid of the mosquitoes is with every citizen to make sure that at least in their houses no breeding is taking place. If every citizen contributes it would go a long way in bringing the disease levels down.

Q: Is it necessary to get a test done for chikungunya?

A: I do not think there any real need to get a chikungunya test done, viral fevers happen in this season everybody is well aware. If by taking Paracetamol and using hydro-therapy if the fever does not come down then consult a local physician.

Only if a doctor asks then get a chikungunya test done. Even if chikungunya comes out positive or negative or even if dengue comes out positive or negative, the treatment remains the same. By a confirmatory test the treatment regimen will not change.

Q: Is there a vaccine against chikungunya?

A: There is as yet no vaccine against chikungunya but vaccine against dengue could be coming soon.


Suggested links








Twitter: pallavabagla


Skype: pallava.bagla


Telephone: +91 11 2271 2896

Mobile: +91 98103 01400

Address: 33 Samachar Apartments, Mayur Vihar – I, Delhi 110091, India

Posted in September 2016

Attributing Life

झांकती इमारतों के बीचे से…
निकलती ये उदास गलि..
ऐसे बेचैन रहती है सारे दिन..
जैसे मानो इंतज़ार में डूबी पलकें…

धोबी चाचा कपड़ो की लकीरें को सुकून देते सारा दिन…
सब्जी वाला आवाज़ लगा जाता रोज़ शाम को..
बच्चों के खेलने की आवाज़ भी गूंजती है कई बार…
गली मगर उदास ही रहती….

गली के चौथे मकान की दूसरी मंजिल पर..
मौलवी साहब रहते हैं…
पुराने बहुत,
तीस साल का रिश्ता है उनका इस गली से…
पूछा उनसे एक रोज़ इस गली की कहानी….

तो मालूम हुआ, यह गली भी कभी खुश थी…
गुनगुनाता था एक नीम का पेड़ भी यहाँ…
और फिर कुछ इमारतों ने छीन ली इससे इसकी धूप ….
उस बात को अब सत्रह साल हो गए..
गली अबतक क़ैद है उदास कमरे में….


Ashirbad S Raha

Communication for Development (C4D) Practitioner

International Committee of the Red Cross, Asia and the Pacific Policy Society, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU.

Friend Vatavaran

A sensitive human being and a sensitive poet. The above poem is based on his experience in east Delhi.

Vatavaran logo

Posted in September 2016


Greening encompasses planting different types of plants for different venues. Planting of 3 to 4 year old saplings of trees, along the roads sides. Wasteland reclamation plants in the waste land areas. Medicinal plants at pre-selected special patches.

Along with planting watering, fertilizing and weeding of the planted saplings for proper growth is the basic prerequisite.

Greening should be a collaborative project with the RWA’s in colonies, Government bodies if its on Government land , Corporate Social Responsibility Project for well known   parks , landfill sites etc.

Greening has to be a long term and multi prolonged event/activity/project/.

Greening invariably enhances the biodiversity of the area and reduces air and noise pollution.

Vatavaran’s experience with greening:

Greening of the ridge


Ridge can be greened with much greater ease, if the right kind of scrubland vegetation is chosen. The secret lies in choosing the correct species, and planting it at the appropriate time and following the method of ‘greening without watering’.

The water retention capability of dry land is very limited. Hence it is important to choose a species, which not only holds the water but also make the surrounding soil moist. Scrub should also be inter grown with those varieties of trees, which need very little care.

Unlike most trees, indigenous species do not require very deep ‘gaddas’ or pits for planting. A foot or so is enough. During rains, the roots will collect water, and the young plants immediately absorb it. As the plant takes roots, it naturally beings to survive in the arid environment. It also starts to increase the biomass of its vicinity. The soil gets enriched, Insects and worms come, followed by birds and their nests. Slowly a complex ecological chain is formed, ranging from micro organisms to mammals.

Time of plant

All plantations must be carried out during the monsoon season after one or two heavy rains. On an average in the first month of plantation the survival in all the areas is above 90% but as the weather changes from monsoon to dry, the survival rate declines to 75 percent. During December and January due to extremely cold weather the survival rate can come down to 60 percent if utmost care is not taken.

I have observed many agencies under taking mass plantations on or June – the World Environment day. This is ridiculous as June is a hot dry month, thus it is most difficult time of the year to make the saplings survive.

Method of plantation

Mud bunds and trenches along the natural slopes of the areas help us harvest rain water during monsoons. Vatavaran opts for trench, batch plantation instead of individual plantation as it saved labour and water utilization. The problematic soils with too many stones or gravel should be enriched by adding Bio-Manure or organic matter. This changes the soil in its pH, EC and Organic Carbon. These additives improved soil conditions as indicated by Ca/Na ratio.

Use of organic manure made by the Cleaning Brigades leads to excellent survival rate as has been evident during our greening operations in Vasant Kunj and Mahipalpur Army Complex. The trees grew healthier too. If there is an inherent problem of termites attacking the trees, this should be tackled by extensive replacement of top soil with organic manure mixed with ‘Neem Ki Khali’.

Species selection

Soil condition in terms of nutrients available is directly related to the litter types from different canopies. Overall reduction in pH, EC, and increase in Organic Carbon, K and P is brought by decomposition and mineralization of litter. Different tree canopies have different capabilities of improving the soil due to different amount of humus deposition followed by the decomposition process leading to soil amelioration.

Species selection for plantation on Ridge should belong to the area as they have high establishment rate, a good root system, a moderate growth rate, good recovery from damage and could produce sufficient regeneration.

As the focus of the plantation program must be environmental conservation, the species selected must have the qualities to improve the (1) eco-balance, (ii) microclimate, (iii) soil and water conservation,  (iv) with stand  adverse climatic conditions and (v) not introduce undesirable pests in the area.

The recommended species for greening of Delhi Ridge are Acacia levcophloea (Ronj), Acacia nilotica (Babul), Acacia modesta (Phulahi), Albizialebbek (Kala sins), Adhatoda vasica (Bansa), Balanitesroxburghii (Hingot), Butea monosperma (Flame of the forest), Capparis decidua (Karir), Cassia fistula (Amaltas), Cordiadichotoma (Lasoora), Delbergia sissoo (Shisham), Erythringsuberosa (Dhol Dhak), Ehretialaevis (Desi Papri), Holarrhenaantidysenterica (Kurchi), Pithecellobiumdulce (jangalJallebi), Terminalliabelerica (Bahera), Zizyphus Munmularis (ben), PiluAnogeissuspendula (Dhoy).


A good example of a shrub which grows as under growth is Bansa,(Adhatoda vasica). Its roots have the capability to minimize water runoff. It also has medicinal anti-cough properties and used in cough syrups. Another example is Ber, (Ziziphusmaurtina) which also provides fresh, sweet, pungent fruit rich in vitamin C.


Tree Hingot, (Balanitesaegyptiaca), does have sharp thorns but that is what protects it from being eatern by cattle thus is recommended where grazing is prevalent. It also has a fragrant greenish white flower, and its fruit pulp is an antidote for whooping cough. The woody portion of the fruit yields a powder used for making of fine cork and fire works, whilst the tree’s wood is hard enough to be used as a cobbler’s sharpener.

– Dhakis a traditional Indian tree and it adds a splash of color to the drab, dry stretch arid Ridge land. During spring Dhak (Butea monosperma) sprouts bright orange, flame coloured flowers, giving the tree its more popular name – ‘the flame of the forest’. The flowers provide food for many birds. The petals of the flower are crushed to form the ‘kesu’ dye used during tradition Holi. Its seeds give clear oil and its stem exudes a gum known for its astringent qualities. The hard leathery leaves can be stitched together to form plates. Its trunk can supply lac.

Babul (Acacia nilotica),is an other extremely hardy tree, which needs very little moisture to grow in. An evergreen, it closes its leaves during the hotter parts of the day to prevent loss of moisture, and its lower trunk is covered with long, silvery white thorns, again to prevent cattle from grazing on.

The uneven, cracked, dark brown bark oozes a gum, which is used for making of glue.

However areas of the Ridge along the main roads with heavy traffic must have trees with medium to large sized leaves. Compound leaves of Babool are not efficient trappers of dust and suspended particulate matter.

Dhoyis a small tree which starts branching from base. Its ash color stem, vermilion colored buds, yellow flowers and red fruit make it very attractive.

And then there are trees with fragrance. While Rong and Shirish have pale yellow flowers with mild fragrance, pilu’s greenish yellow flowers are sweet smelling. Amaltas with its sunshine yellow flowers in dropping clusters has fascinated poets and writers over the centuries. A look at a blooming Amaltas can cheer even the most distressed souls.


Experiments to now characteristic of some ridge tree species


Three different trees i.e. Dhak, Kikar and Semal within a radius of 0.5 km were selected in the South Central Ridge to find out the size of the leaves in relation to a tree with small canopy. On one particular day, the temperature was recorded under each of them simultaneously.

  1. Maximum temperature was recorded under the tree species (kikar) with small leaves and small canopy.
  2. Trees (Dhak and Semal) with a small canopy but broad leaves had 0.5°C less temperature than a tree with small leaves and small canopy.
Tree Canopy Size Size of Leaves Temperature (°C)



                Geneus Species                                                                 (Common Name)
  1. Acaciaferruginea                                                             (Phulahi)
  2. Acacia Senegal                                                                 (Katha)
  3. Acacia leucophloea                                                        (Ronj)
  4. Acacia nilotica                                                                 (Babul)
  5. Acacia lebbeck                                                                 (Siras)
  6. Anogeissuspendula                                                        (Dhoy)
  7. AIbizziaamara                                                                  (Sins)
  8. Albizzia procera                                                               (Sins)
  9. Albizziaadoratissima                                                     (Siris)
  10. Albizzialebbek                                                                 (kalaSiris)
  11. Balanitesroxburghii                                                       (Hingot)
  12. Butea monosperma                                                        (Dhak)
  13. Cassia fistula                                                                    (Amaltas)           Tree
  14. Ehretialaevis                                                                     (Papri)
  15. Flacourtiaindia                                                                 (Khatai)
  16. Feroniaelephantum                                                        (Kaith)
  17. Ficustsiela
  18. Ficus benghalensis                                                           (Bargad)
  19. Ficus glomerata                                                                 (Gular)
  20. Grewiaasiatica                                                                    (Phalsa)
  21. Gnewiatenax                                                                       (Ramchana)
  22. Grewiabetulaefolia                                                             (Ramchana)
  23. Wrightiatrinctoria                                                             (Kurchi)
  24. Propopisspicigera                                                              (Chonkra)
  25. Zizyphus mauntiana                                                         (Ber)
  26. Cappans decidua                                                                 Shrubs
  27. Capparis sepiaria
  28. Cordiadichotoma                                                                (Lasoora)
  29. Cordiarothii                                                                          (Gondi)
  30. Carissa spinarum                                                                (Caronda)
  31. Diospyroscordifolia                                                            (Kendu)
  32. Diospyrosmontana                                                             (Kendu)


Vatavaran believes that each colony must have a colony forest . A park can be converted into a forest . Vatavaran worked on giving forest character to Mahavir park.


From parks to forest

Though Delhi has over a hundred public parks, tree lined avenues and thousands of mericured lawns but, Delhi’s forest cover had been reducing at a rate of 1% per year since 1940.

Result : the oxygen release is decreasing. One of dense tree area emanates approximately 3 tonnes of °2 while the same area of park releases just one ton of 02. 1 of dense tree cover can absorb 2.5 tons carbon dioxide while to do the same job a golf course or a manicured lawn would have to be 10 times more in size.

Vatavaran selected Mahavir Park on Ridge as a model and did an extensive study on its existing character and how giving it a forest character would benefit the environment and people of Delhi.


Parameters Existing
Mahavir Park
Mahavir Forest
Temp. in June

Noise LevelO2 generation


CO2 absorption




Pollutant dust absorption

Water requirement


Fertilizer requirement


Man power requirement

10-40 dB1 ton I area


1.7               tons/ area


13 lakhs


6 gm/24 hrs./10 M2


2 tubewells]


45 quintals


43 employees

0-10      dB3 tons I area


4.2 tons I area


50 thousand


11 gms/24 hrs/10 H2






4 employees

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director


Posted in September 2016

Why Zero Landfill Option?

Land fills not only take away land on mother earth but also pollute the air, water and land. Landfills lead to infrastructure disruption, such as damage to access roads by heavy vehicles. Pollution of local roads and water courses from wheels on vehicles when they leave the landfill is significant. Contamination of groundwater or aquifers or soil contamination occurs, as well. Even engineered liners have a lifespan, but eventually, every landfill liner will leak, allowing the leachate to contaminate the groundwater. Methane is naturally generated by decaying organic wastes in a landfill and is a potent greenhouse gas, and a danger because it is flammable and potentially explosive.  Landfills attract vultures and vectors such as rats, and flies which can cause infectious diseases besides wildlife disruption, dust, odor, noise pollution, and reduced local property values.

The more waste a individual/institution /industry produces the higher the responsibility of formulating zero landfill program. This program would entail:

(i) Moving towards decentralized municipal solid waste program where every residential colony ,educational  institution, office, restaurant , office takes  complete responsibility for the management waste it produces and no waste from these areas ever go to any landfill .

(ii)Introducing waste containers which are made from earth friendly materials are aesthetic, last a lifetime  and are suitable for various waste streams.

(iii) Segregating the waste at source ,   analyze the various waste streams and volumes produced and create interventions to reduce it as much as possible. For example reducing every gram /mm of input materials be it raw food for home or cafeteria, clothing for one’s dress or commercial line, paper in personal and professional spheres , or the size of steel sheets used for stamping parts in an industry.

(iv) Reusing the waste produced. Waste from one stream can easily become raw material for other stream. Food and green waste becomes raw material for composting. Details covered in an earlier blog. Waste paper and Clothing waste both from home and commercial places become raw materials for hand made recycling industry. In industries  reusing  the sand from aluminum and ferrous metal casting operations again & again instead of sending it to landfill every time. (The sand being mixed with some binders , additives cannot be used for much else).

(vi) A well  designed Zero Landfill program would create less demand for the services of recyclers.

(v)Moving towards green packaging by eliminating every bit of extra packaging materials, replacing packaging to bio-degradable, eliminating hazardous packaging completely. Details on green packaging have been covered in an earlier blog.

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director