Active Eco Gram with Myriam Shankar – Sustainability and Development Can Go Hand-in-Hand

Myriam Shankar is the guest speaker in the episode of Active EcoGram.

Originally from Germany, Myriam got married and settled in India 15 years ago. When she had visited the first time in 1990, India was untouched in the sense that there was little consumerism and hence little waste. Decades down the line now, it makes her heart cry to see the little concern for the environment.

After settling down in Bengaluru in 2009, her first activity was to go against the menace of garbage in the city by organising a huge clean-up drive in coordination with BBMP – ‘Reclaim Bengaluru – It’s Ours’. Close to 4,700 people had registered and had come out to just clean up in front of their homes. Following this campaign, the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) was started with individuals who were activists in their own right and wanted to develop one agenda for the Government, specifically catering to how we can get waste management going.

Unfortunately, the group has not been able to see the changes that it really wanted to see. So, Myriam decided to move out of the city and work further by adopting a Panchayat. The Embassy Group is the sponsor for the program called Eco Gram.

Eco Gram is the Gram Panchayat of Bettahalasur in North Bengaluru. It is located in the surroundings of the Embassy International Riding School. In 2016, the project was started in a village called Tarahunase. The following year, it was expanded to three villages; the next year, to seven and then, to eleven villages.

Eco Gram is an Eco-Friendly Gram Panchayat. The idea is not only to take care of waste management but also to look at pollution in general. The tag line is ‘clean village, healthy future’. “Waste gets in the way of everything, like water and air, so we thought of starting with waste. We have set it up with our partner service provider, Hasirudala Innovations. This year, we decided to do a Habba because waste management has been set up really well and is in good form. This year, we are starting with the water program as well. It will be whole series of awareness around rain water harvesting, water conservation, how does water even work, and the importance of not creating bore wells one after the other. In today’s climate, change is very important. Everybody needs to know the importance of water and how we can manage it.”

Eco Gram Shakti Sisterhood was started last year. They have empowered the women in the villages through yoga, Zumba, computer classes, nutrition courses, Spoken English, other capacities that they aspire to acquire. “The women have helped the team of five cover 1,300 households. The fifty ladies who are helping us are really giving us that edge.”

The Habba celebrated the three years of functioning and what is more to come. “Eco Gram is an aspiration, an idea about how a community can be a community and be part of positive development. Development can be positive, it doesn’t necessarily have to be destructive. Eco Gram wants to show that development and care for the environment can actually go hand in hand if everybody takes up their part of the responsibility.”

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