[This is my last post of 2017. A very happy and healthy new year for all my blog readers and followers]
I woke up in the morning of the New Year.
I decided to go for a walk around the Shivaji Park. At the entrance of the Park, I saw an electronic display of the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI was less than 100. The message that was scrolling below was “Good Morning – Its Safe to Go for a Walk”
I was delighted. “Oh, things are improving” I said to myself.
When I returned home, I saw my neighbor washing his car in the porch. “Hi Dr Modak, enjoyed your walk?” He beamed. I nodded. I noticed that he was washing his car using the water collected from the rainwater harvesting tank.
I saw my neighbor opposite. He was working on the composting unit that was recently installed in the housing society. It looked like that waste segregation at the households was really happening and the compost produced was used for gardening. He waved at me. His face was glowing with expression of sustainability.
“Oh, people have become so conscious” I said to myself.
I got ready. My driver had arrived. As we drove to the Bandra Kurla Complex where my office is located, I saw less traffic on the street. The headline in the Newspaper was “Mumbaikars shifting to public transport. Many commuters now prefer AC Railway coaches instead of driving their own cars”
“Oh, something that we always wanted to” I said to myself.
When I got down at my office, I saw four of my colleagues getting out of a taxi. One of the them smiled at me and said that they have decided to go for car pooling every day to cut down emissions, reduce consumption of fuel and in addition save costs. Plus, they chatted on current topics during the journey and updated each other. This was overwhelming.
When I reached my desk, my secretary walked in with an “offer envelop”. “Dr Modak, you have an offer to go for an electric car with a 30% discount on down-payment”. I asked what happens to my present car. “Your old car will be bought at a handsome price and then taken to “Auto-Recycling” unit to extract all the reusable components and important resources like metal, plastic etc.” She read out from the flyer. This was a rather tempting offer for a “phase out”, both from economic, social and environmental point of view. “Connect me to the dealer please” I asked my secretary.
“This is circular economy in action” I said to myself.
I went to the conference room for the morning meeting. I didn’t see the usual plastic drinking water bottles. These bottles were replaced by reusable mugs that carried filtered and disinfected water from a common unit. I was impressed.
My colleague from HR told us that soon water will be served directly as is from the taps. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) is about to step up the treatment at the Bhandup Water Treatment Plant, arrest leakages and eliminate cross contamination of water during transmission and distribution. Idea was to ensure that water we get at the taps is as good as mineral water as MCGMs responsibility. Clearly, the domestic water purifier industry was going to be in trouble”
“Wow, this upstream thinking of MCGM deserves a big applause” I said to myself.
In the afternoon, we had a meeting at the Secretariat, where the Ministers and the powerful bureaucrats sit. The building was under renovation. The Board outside stated that the building is in transition to green. It will run on solar energy, have water efficient plumbing fixtures, more natural ventilation to reduce consumption of energy due to air conditioners and practice greywater recycling etc. The Government had put a directive that all State-owned buildings will become green and no new housing and infrastructure development will be permitted unless it is green.
“Oh, something that we always wanted to see” I said to myself “Government must demonstrate commitment at its end first and then preach to others”
The meeting at the Secretariat was to discuss policy on telecommuting – where people will work from home for one day a week. Mumbai was considered as a pilot. The Secretary said that this will help reduce congestion on the street and so the emissions. It will also help improve the work life balance. The Minister thought that the latter will be a political advantage.
“This is simply revolutionary – better than the odd-even strategy tried in Delhi” I said to myself. I was always longing to see some afternoon TV shows that I couldn’t due to all 5 working days.
My wife had asked me to go a supermarket and buy some stuff for the house. So, I went to a food mall at the Phoenix High Street.
When I entered the Food Mall, an escort accompanied me to guide in shopping. She was a dietician and nutrition expert. We spoke. This won’t cost you any extra – its our complementary service” She said.
“We stock only organic and eco-labelled food Dr Modak. No oily, frozen or curated stuff. Nothing based on GMOs. I will help you chose the food that is best for you” She smiled with dimples. She packed my goods in a cloth bag that was made from fabric waste and stitched by underprivileged women (that’s what was written on the bag). “No plastic bag Dr Modak” She said apologetically,
When I came out of the food mall with this “healthy” experience, I saw that the chains like McDonalds, KFC etc. had completely changed their menu and no more junk food was available. The outlets like barista and Café Coffee Day were replaced by Mini-Gyms, Yoga Centers and Meditation rooms. The caffeine in the air was missing.
“Oh, this is unbelievable. People have become so concerned about food they eat and have realized the importance of workouts and meditation. This city is changing its culture” I said to myself.
When returning home, I saw several other innovations. For instance, booths for collecting used electronics such as junk mobile phones and used household batteries were seen outside the movie theaters. These booths were sponsored by electronic giants like Samsung, Apple, Panasonic, Nippon and Sony. The electronic waste thus collected was sent for refurbishing and remanufacturing and discount coupons were issued as a token of appreciation.
“The business organizations in this city seems to be on a sustainability mission” I said to myself.
We were crossing the Dadar Railway station by then. I saw a huge crowd inside and outside the railway station. The crowd was rising, heaving and swaying like you see in a political rally.
We were stuck for a while in negotiating with the traffic jam. I asked a gentleman on the street the reason. This gentleman turned out to be “breaking news communicator” to the news channel Times Now.
He said “Well, these people are leaving the Mumbai city. They are simply unable to adjust with all the good things happening around. They prefer to rather settle somewhere else where they can lead a normal life that they are used to. We expect to lose at least 30% of people in 2018 in such an out-migration and many more may move out”
“That’s terrible. Don’t we want Mumbai to be the first sustainable city in the world? We have to work on convincing these people and introduce the benefits of sustainable living” I said – this time aloud and not to myself
The man from Times Now gave me a mischievous smile
“Well, don’t you think the city will be sustainable by itself when such people will choose to leave?”
I thought “He was quite right”. This time I said this to myself
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