“After half a decade of clearing out more than 3 tonnes of garbage from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, it was time to really get our hands dirty.”
On the 2nd of October 2011, Natura Outdoor Education Trust (NOET) launched the maiden initiative of the ParaForest Forces with a Dam-Building Drive within the core area of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Almost 80 volunteers pitched in to help build a check dam on a stream deep inside the forests of the Park.
The Natura Outdoor Education Trust (NOET) launched the ParaForest Forces Programme with the objective of giving truly motivated volunteers a chance to shoulder bigger responsibilities in the welfare of the National Park. By creating a well-managed pool of committed volunteers, the ParaForest Forces would be able to assist the over-burdened Forest Department in various crucial tasks such as Forest Fire Prevention, Vigilance and Research.
Embodying the spirit of shramdaan on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, the first initiative of the ParaForest Forces involved youth volunteers from the Terence Lewis Academy and Global Vision Classes. The event was partnered by the Rotaract Club with the Rotaract Club of Mumbai Downtown being the host club for the 4th consecutive year.
The event saw these 80 youngsters work hard at excavating earth to fill gunny sacks which were used as the building blocks of the improvised damns. The volunteers heaved bags weighing almost 50 kgs into the flow of the stream to build a one metre-high wall that was anchored in place with the help of rocks.
The intent behind building check dams deep inside the protected forests was to prevent the surface water from running dry soon after the monsoons. This prevented wildlife from having to wander further out of the core area for water and also made the ground water table to rise in and around the National Park, thus in turn, in a small way, affecting the drinking water supply to Mumbai.
“The National Park serves as the lungs of our city and even provide for our drinking water,” said Avishkar Tendle, Managing Trustee, NOET. “After hosting clean-up drives in the park for the last 5 years, we decided to undertake activities that make a bigger impact on the well-being of the Park. The ParaForest Forces hope to be instrumental in changing the fortunes of the Park for the better,” he said.
Paraforest Volunteer Programme was build on the success of Iday Trash Dash (IDTD) for last six years.
What is IDTD?
I-Day Trash Dash is a clean-up marathon which involves scores of people scrambling through the SANJAY GANDHI NATIONAL PARK on Independence Day playing games and winning prizes for collecting the most litter!
Why we chose Independence Day?
Many years after Independence, the Day itself has been reduced to just another break from the working week.
The 15th of August struck us as the perfect occasion to rouse the spirit of activism and do something for the community through IDay Trash Dash.
Mumbai is the only city in the world to have a national park within its boundaries. With an area of 104 sq. km., the SANJAY GANDHI NATIONAL PARK supplies us with fresh water and cleans the air we breathe. Its continued conservationis required for our survival.