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Experiences and Encounters in Pune

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Shuttle Services for Pune

Posted by Sanskriti on February 10, 2018


Colleagues at CEE Urban prepared this paper to highlight the potential for well-organized local area shuttle services, to help reduce short- to intermediate-distance private motorized trips within an area and provide first/last mile connectivity to public transport.

In combination with parking regulations, shuttles could help free up road space for cycles, utilities, trees. Such services should be systematically introduced in selected areas of the city as a key element of the city’s transportation system.



See the paper at


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Nature Trail at Pashan Lake

Posted by Sanskriti on January 28, 2017

On 26 January 2017, a Nature Trail was organized for students at Pashan Lake.


Nature Trails are a part of the project for awareness about urban ecosystems and bird education taken up through Garden Dept and Indradhanushya, and being implemented by CEE along with Ecological Society and others.

The trail and onsite activities on 26 January were arranged for 30 students from Tara Mobile Creche. Students have been given a specially designed ‘nature observation notebook’.


The trail and activities were conducted by educators from CEE, Ecological Society as well as the nature educators oriented last month.

Posted in Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Nature Education, Places in Pune, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Shekru Mahotsav and Sahyadri Fortnight

Posted by Sanskriti on June 30, 2013


Shekru, or Indian Giant Squirrel. Photo by Thomas Hoffmann

A Shekru Mahtosav is being organized on 1 July 2013 in Pune. This festival marks the beginning of the Sahyadri Fortnight from 1 to 15 July. The initiative to declare 1 to 15 July as Sahyadri Fortnight by the Environment Dept, Govt of Maharashtra is to commemorate and celebrate the inscription of Western Ghats sites as World Natural Heritage by UNESCO last year. This first Sahyadri Fortnight focuses on Shekru or Indian Giant Squirrel. Shri Sanjay Deotale, Environment Minister and Shri Sachin Aher, Minister of State for Environment, Smt Valsa Nair Singh, IAS, Secretary, Environment Dept, Govt of Maharashtra will be present on the occasion. The Shekru Mahotsav will take place at Yashada in two sessions from 9 am to 1 pm and 2 to 5 pm.

Students and teachers from about 30 schools that are part of the Western Ghats (Sahyadri) Special Eco-clubs Scheme of Environment Dept, Govt of Maharashtra and located in the Sahyadris from Nashik to Sindhudurg and Kolhapur will participate in the Shekru Festival. The Scheme is implemented by Centre for Environment Education (CEE). Shekru Festival is being arranged by CEE on behalf of the Environment Dept, Govt of Maharashtra.

Students would participate in games, quiz and an exhibition on the ecology of the Giant Squirrel, threats and conservation efforts. In the afternoon, a slide show, talk by experts and presentations will be made about the projects that schools will be taking up in the Sahyadri Fortnight till 15 July.

The Western Ghats are the habitat of the Indian Giant Squirrel, the State Animal of Maharashtra. Kas Plateau and Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary in Satara District, Chandoli National Park in Sangli District, and Radhanagri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kolhapur District are the sites in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra inscribed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in July 2012.


For more information contact: Avinash Madhale, CEE, Pune. Cell: 9881466529. Email:

Shekru Mahotsav


Shekru Festival aims to:

  • Enhance awareness and knowledge about Shekru or the Indian Giant Squirrel among students of the Sahyadri Eco-clubs
  • Initiate action projects through school eco-clubs for the conservation of Shekru
  • Plant and care for trees that are part of the natural habitat of Shekru
  • Enhance understanding about the importance of Shekru and to increase the popularity of Shekru, the State Animal of Maharashtra, which gives the message of nature conservation to all

Under the Western Ghat (Sahyadri) Special Eco-club Scheme, eco-clubs have been set up in 246 schools in 63 Talukas of the 12 Districts in Maharashtra that have a segment of the Sahayadri mountain range.

Of these, 30 schools from Pune, Ahmednagar Satara, Raigad, Nashik. Kolhapur, Sangli district will be taking up a variety of activities to celebrate Sahyadri Fortnight from 1to 15 July 2013. These would include awareness activities about Shekru, the State Animal of Maharashtra, its protection and conservation, presentations to the community about Shekru, collection of seeds, nursery preparation and plantation of tree species necessary for its survival, survey of the area around the schools to assess the habitat, especially checking for tall trees, tree canopy, sacred groves, etc.

About Shekru

Shekru is the State Animal of Maharashtra. Shekru or Shekra (scientific name Ratufa indica, common name Indian Giant Squirrel) belongs to the squirrel family. The Indian Giant Squirrel is rust coloured and much larger than the commonly seen five-striped squirrel. It is found in the moist forests of the Western Ghats, especially on tall trees such as banyan, wild mango, kinjal, hirada, beheda etc.

However, today, the natural habitat of Shekru is vanishing or getting degraded due to a variety of reasons, such as conversion of forest lands to agriculture, housing or industrial lands, building of dams, monoculture plantations, logging for timber, hunting, etc.

Shekru is present in Maharashtra, mainly in Bhimashankar (Pune district), Phansad Ajoba mountain range, Mahuli, Vasuta region, Chandoli National Park (Sangli district), Radhanagri Wildlife Sanctuary (Kolhapur district), Melghat Tiger Reserve (Amravati district), Tadoba National Park (Chandrapur district).

Physical Features

The weight of an adult Shekru is about 2 to 2.5 kilos, and length of the body is 2.5 to 3 feet, including the tail. Its eyes are red and it has whiskers on its face. The coat is rust or brown coloured on the back. The belly or underside and front legs are usually lighter cream coloured. The head may be brown or beige with a white spot between the ears. The tail, longer than the main body, is a distinctive feature.

Life cycle and Behaviour

Shekru is a solitary creature. The male and female come together during the mating season. The female produces 1 or 2 off-spring once in a year in December-January. Shekrus build 6 to 8 nests for the protection of the young. The nests are round or spherical and made of twigs and leaves, which are usually on the thinner branches of tall trees where predators find it difficult to reach.

Shekru can leap from one tree to the other at distances of 15 to 20 feet.

The average life span is about 15 to 20 years


Its diet includes mainly different types of fruits, seeds, flowers, leaves and bark of a variety of plants available in his habitat

Food Plants and Nesting Plants

Food plants: Anjani, Hirada, Beheda, wild Mango, Phansada, Jackfrruit, Chandada, Ambada, Moi, Jamun, Ombal Vel

Nesting plants: Anjani, Ambada, wild Mango, Beheda, Nana, Satveen, Kinjal


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The Handprint – what the fingers signify

Posted by Sanskriti on October 14, 2010

Today Arun Wakhlu and Anupam Saraph and I met. We spoke about many things: Pachamama Alliance, Awakening the Dreamer, Poorna Pune, The Pune Wiki, TED and TEDx Pune, DevNadi and the power of individual action and contribution, the Earth Charter and EC + 10 conference in Ahmedabad, code of ethics, the Pune ESR, Ecological Footprint, The Handprint Actions for Sustainability, Indradhanushya, Clean Green Mela, the need to reflect and connect, existing connections, and need for more connections …

From all this came five points as one interpretation of the Handprint, and what each of the fingers might signify:

  • Be Positive and believe in yourself, says the thumb
  • Honour your commitments, abide by the agreed-on ethic, says the index finger
  • Our actions have to be in tune with environmental sustainability, says the middle finger, and as it is the tallest, it also means that we recognize the environment is bigger than all of us and the basis of our life
  • Reach out and connect, and our actions have to be in tune with social justice, says the ring finger
  • My contribution counts, and I will devote some of my personal time every day/ every week and also where possible align my social, work/ business life to working for environmental sustainability and social justice, says the little finger


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Clean Green Mela

Posted by Sanskriti on June 25, 2010

26 June 2010, Swojas Anand, Anand Park, Aundh, Pune

10 am to 2 pm

CEE and SWaCH are organizing a neighbourhood mela … get to know clean-green stuff happening around you, learn about solutions to make our neighbourhoods more livable

Clean Green Mela

  • Games and activities for children: Web of Life, Waste Segregation, Ropes n ladders, Whats in my compost pit, Tree of Life, Patch Painting
  • V-Collect: Bring your stuff for re-use and recycling – old clothes, toys, utensils, electrnic items
  • Compost Demo: How to start a compost pit and tips to care for your compost pit
  • Paper bag making demo
  • Talks by Dr R Joshi, Aundh Ward Medical Officer and SWaCH
  • Exhibition by EcoExist, SWaCH and CEE of products made of recycled material, books etc
  • Film show
  • Act Now Poster exhibition

Entry is free … Do Come!

And if you’d like to organize this mela in your neighbourhood, get in touch!

Here are pictures of an earlier V Collect, organized in Pushpak Park Aundh (click for slide show)

Pushpak Park

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A special book launch at a special bookstore

Posted by Sanskriti on June 21, 2010

Sahyadri Adventure by Deepak Dalal, illustrated by Anusha, at Twist n’ Tales

Anusha, Deepak and Janaki, Twist n' Tales, 20 June 2010

Yesterday, Janaki gathered family, friends and neighbours, in an intimate and warm event at Twist n’ Tales to launch Deepak’s new double book Sahyadri Adventure. The books are illustrated by Anusha. Many things were special about yesterday – the store, the author and the illustrator!

Janaki has always wanted Twist n’ Tales to be a neighbourhood bookshop, and that is what it is. Its what you want a bookstore to be. Not a mall. Janaki knows her books and the community of readers; people meet here and strike up friendships. Deepak, a frequent visitor at TnT, writes wildlife adventure stories for children. I first met him when I moved to Pune, and my mentors and friends, philosophers and guides, Meena and Mamata, suggested I meet him, and I did. We are neighbours too! And when Deepak was telling Janaki last year that he needed an illustrator for his new book, it was Janaki who suggested that he ask Anusha.

Deepak remembered all the little doodles – mainly birds – that Anusha has been doing when we all met over coffee with Ashish, and said … ‘why not?’. And so began a new neighbourhood collaboration right here in Aundh.

Wasn’t easy with over 40 drawings to do, with school work, jamming and band practise. Deepak was always encouraging, but firm that she give her best, and its because of him and Aditi Deo’s (also in Aundh!) technical guidance that Anusha’s talent has blossomed. I’m so proud!

Here is a page from the book with Anusha’s illustrations …

Half-title Page from Sahyadri Adventure

See also twistntales: Launch of Deepak Dalal’s new book!

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Actions to Address Air Pollution

Posted by Sanskriti on April 24, 2010

By Ananya Kaginalkar and Girija Bhapkar

CEE’s Earth Care page in Sakal Young Buzz, March 2010

Ananya and Girija bicycle a lot and use solar water heaters at home.

Vroom…..cough, cough! Vroom… ..cough, cough! This is the condition of most of us city dwellers. Even if we step out of our houses for some fresh air we are immediately engulfed by pollution. This is what set our minds ticking and my partner Girija Bhapkar and I decided to take up ‘Air Pollution’ as our topic for our Environment Studies project with a desire to do ‘something’ about it.

Read on …

Try the Causes of Pollution game on kidsRgreen

Posted in CEE's Earthcare Page in Sakal Young Buzz, Pollution, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Paintings last evening

Posted by Sanskriti on April 14, 2010


OrchidWine by Anusha

And mine …

Green Hibiscus

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Living in a Changing Environment

Posted by Sanskriti on April 10, 2010

Photography Exhibition curated by the Maharashtra Cultural Center and the Max Mueller Bhavan

8 April to 8 May 2010 at Max Mueller Bhavan, Boat Club Road, Pune 411 001

The exhibition shows photographs of Bhagyashree Bhutada, Prasad Dabke,  Snehal Date, Sanket Deshpande, Rainer Hoerig, Arul Horizon, Pooja Joshi, Meghana Kulkarni, Shamin Kulkarni, Sanskriti Menon, Sujit Patwardhan, Vikrant Thakar

The exhibition unites twelve personal perspectives of the city of Pune. Some of the photographers take you on a discovery tour to places which contribute to the identity of their city threatened by the dynamics of urban development and neglect. Others take a critical look at the ubiquitous billboards which dominate the appearance of large parts of the city and at the new urban lifestyle symbolized by glass and concrete buildings which are neither adapted to the climate nor to the architectural and cultural context. The photographers hope that this exhibition will make a visual contribution to a discussion about the future of their city – a discussion they feel is necessary and urgent.


The photo-exhibition is the result of a week-long workshop conducted by Stefan Koppelkamm and architect and photographer Peeyush Sekhsaria. Stefan conducted the Places I Like photography workshop in Bangalore in August 2009, and through the facilitation of MMB Pune, we were able to have the workshop in Pune too.

For me, the photo workshop was a way of exploring the old city. We walked about Tulshibagh, Mandai, Kasba, Tambat Ali, Laxmi Road, Narayan Peth looking at paars, changing uses, buildings being pulled down, new buildings replacing old, mandirs subsumed within new buildings, deep stumbhs now standing neglected, little curving lanes, ferns on old crumbling slim red brick walls, shop signs in chalk … We also had thali lunches, nira, kairi panhe, Dharwad pedhe, hot pattice from New Poona Bakery.

Our photos capture some of this flavour and tell stories about Pune.

Pooja’s photos about the brick kilns outside Pune have a story deeper than what is immediately evident. The location of the kiln was probably a farm, now its just a piece of real estate, already sold for construction. The top soil was probably sold separately to another kiln. And so the city and the built environment expands and eats up the surrounding farm land.

Rainer captures the old and the new; physical structures of glass and chrome replace mud and straw huts though remnants of the village are still strewn about. You wonder what became of the people whose village it was. In another photo, the Bombay-Pune road is the setting for the crossing of the Wari that pre-dates the structures in the background – the British water tower and the modern glass-chrome mall. Some collective memories endure and are longer-lived than buildings.

Snehal’s photos of Taljai celebrate the green patches left in our city, though the skyline of the city just beyond tells you just how vulnerable these patches are. Sujit’s photos of shops and vendors in the old core city speak about a type of economy very much alive, vibrant and colourful – but does the key-maker or the Amrutulya know that Pune’s City Development Plan also speaks about a vibrant economy, but that it might mean a very different economy and a very different perception of ‘vibrant’. These little, ‘low-value’ economic activities have no place in the modern city which measures its success by the foot falls in the malls. Vikrant comments on the larger-than-life bill boards and their empty promises.

Arul and I have more personal yet generic stories to tell – of particular people, and the changes in the city seen through their lives. Prasad captures the dull red gleam of the Tambats’ lives. The Mandai that, with its dark, musty and mysterious light, could be a child’s ‘I Spy’ delight – Bhagyashree yearns to see it full of people and life again.

Other photos also show dilapidated structures, beautiful no doubt, but maybe unsafe? A change in land-use, and an increase in the FSI limit will decongest the old core, but de-congest it of what and for what? To replace it with more glass and chrome? Perhaps the photos can be the reason or the excuse or the backdrop for a wider dialogue on what is our city about, whose lives are at stake, and whose vision is shaping the structure of the city and the destiny of its people.

My photos.


Glimpses of the Workshop


Pooja, Peeyush, Stefan

Sujit, Bhagyashree and Snehal compare cameras

Sujit, Bhagyashree and Snehal compare cameras

Rainer and Stefan

Prasad, Stefan, Peeyush


Posted in Community, Development Plan, Heritage, Places in Pune, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Urban Resilience and Justice in SoW 2009

Posted by Sanskriti on October 11, 2009

Resilience and Justice

One of the two panel discussions at the Pune launch of the Indian edition of the State of the World 2009 was ‘The Urban Perspective: Resilience, Justice and Governance’.

This panel drew upon the State of the World 2009 chapters on Building Resilience[1] which suggests that

Urban resilience can (also) be facilitated through the adoption of pro-poor strategies that enable individuals to develop sustainable and resilient livelihoods. Indeed, having a solid economic base is one of the main ways to help households cope with the shocks and stresses that will become more frequent as a result of climate change,

and Employment in a Low-Carbon World[2], which says:

In developing countries, paper recycling is often done by an informal network of scrap collectors, sometimes organized into cooperatives in order to improve pay and working conditions. Jobs and livelihoods in informal communal recycling efforts are difficult to document; in Cairo, the Zabbaleen have received considerable international attention. Believed to number some 70,000, they recycle an estimated 85 percent of the materials they collect. Brazil is thought to have some 500,000 recycling jobs. China, with estimates as high as 10 million jobs, trumps all other countries in this area.9

And states that

Green jobs need to be decent jobs—offering good wages and income security, safe working conditions, dignity at work, and adequate workers’ rights. Sadly, this is not always the case today. Recycling work is sometimes precarious, involving serious occupational health hazards and often generating less than living wages and incomes, as is the case for 700,000 workers in electronics recycling in China.

Sustainable employment (should) be good not only for the environment but also for the people holding the jobs. (Still) An economy that reconciles human aspirations with the planet’s limits is eminently possible.

The rest of this post is a rough and somewhat summarized transcript of the talks by Rebecca Kedari and Laxmi Narayan.

Rebecca Kedari

(Waste Collector and Executive Committee member of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, a trade union of waste pickers)

I live in Bopodi and work in Aundh. I used to carry a sack and collect recyclables. Now I collect door to door. We get mixed waste, and separate out the recyclables which I sell to scrap. I make compost and vermi-compost from the organic material. What I am not able to sell as scrap or compost, I discard. The pollution of the environment is not because of me or others like me it is because of rich people. I travel by foot or cycle, and if we are in a hurry we take a bus or auto. In my house I have only one bulb. That is all our electricity consumption. Rich people use polluting cars, lot of electricity etc. We don’t pollute the environment instead we contribute to improving it by recycling.

Now in Pune, a company has started to collect mixed waste which is taken to Uruli (dumpsite near Pune) for recycling, and it consists of both dry and wet waste in mixed form. The company has started to take the whole waste and so we will not get the scrap. The little that we used to get – Rs 5 to Rs 10 as user fees – that too we will now not get. Nobody is bothered about what is the impact on us. Company is concerned about its own profits. They should be concerned about our livelihood as well. We need the scrap. What we want is that we should be able to remove the saleable scrap first and then the company can take the rest of the waste to recycle it.

As regards the waste itself – the generator of waste and we the collectors know what is in the waste. When I get mixed waste, I have to find some space within the society premises or outside to segregate it. So people look at us with disgust that we are putting our hands in the waste. The perspective of the passerby is that we are doing a dirty work and they cover their noses when they go by.

We have a problem and that is that we need space to segregate. When we segregate, the neighbours complain, they phone the corporation saying we are increasing the pollution. In fact, pollution is not increasing because of us. It is your waste, what you have generated. So what we want is that in your housing society itself you should provide us a little space for segregation then it will not trouble anybody. We can make compost also in your society premises and you will not need to buy compost. If you give us little space for segregation then we won’t have to sit on the road and the municipality officials will not harass us or take away our sacks. So if societies give us some alternative spaces and we can segregate properly and you will benefit from the compost and we will benefit from the dry waste.  There is enough space for parking, for 2 or 3 cars, because these are planned in advance. The flats are built later, first parking is built first. In the same way, housing complexes should make space for waste storage and segregation.

In the waste we get diapers, sanitary napkins, bedclothes of sick people at home. These products are very convenient for people. Our cooperative is making special paper bags for disposal of sanitary napkins which you can buy at just Rs 10 a pack. When you dispose such items in these bags which are marked with a special symbol we will know what is inside and we won’t open these bags. Now these items come just like that in the waste bags which we open to look for recyclables. When we are working with waste we have to take care of our health. It will be better for you also it is a better way of disposing waste.

Laxmi Narayan

Laxmi Narayan argues for a Just Transition: a low carbon world will see a growth of green jobs in sectors such as renewables and mass transportation, but existing environmentally friendly livelihoods such as those in informal recycling need to be strengthened

Laxmi Narayan argues for a Just Transition: a low carbon world will see a growth of green jobs in sectors such as renewables and mass transportation, but existing environmentally friendly livelihoods such as those in informal recycling must be supported and strengthened

(General Secretary of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, a trade union of waste pickers, and associated with the international advocacy group ‘Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing’ (WIEGO) advocating a Just Transition at the preparatory committee meetings for the Copenhagen COP)

Waste picker groups from across continents participated in the Bonn discussion and we will be making a representation at the Copenhagen. We are making two points mainly. One, that recycling is under-represented overall at the Climate Change talks. And two, that poor communities have not necessarily been involved in the talks, and we need a stake, a voice, and we need fora to make these issues felt.

One of the key things we feel strongly about is the kind of employment this sector offers. The State of the World 2009 book talks about green jobs that are cleaner and greener. Definitely there are jobs in the renewable energy and transportation sectors. But simultaneously we should look at sectors which have already been promoting environmentally friendly jobs and look at ways to protect them – this does not seem to be happening, in fact everything seems to be happening against that. We should look at mechanisms to strengthen these existing green jobs.

The authors say that even when recycling is promoted, and integration models like Swach where waste pickers are integrated into door step collection in an attempt by the city to improve conditions of work, it may not be on terms that are fully fair. We have to look at work as decent livelihoods, conditions of work, minimum wages, etc as these are the only ways that work becomes sustainable. For this, the city or state needs to make financial investment, make policies that it supports this kind of processes, as this cannot be done in isolation. You cannot simultaneously make two different and opposing policies in each sector.

The connection traditionally made between the Waste sector and Climate Change is related to landfills since they generate methane. Waste to Energy (WtE) projects have been promoted as green as it takes waste as its raw material, but we strongly question that WtE is ‘green’.  All forms of WtE actually use material that could have been recycled or composted. Several groups have highlighted the residual ash, air pollution and environmental impacts of incineration or burn based technologies. Typically Industry reacts by making better technologies or variants of the same such as RDF, plasma pyrolysis, etc, which all take un-segregated waste. Biogas does not fit here, though some people do refer to biogas too as WtE, but it requires, like compost, a segregated organic stream so it encourages recycling.

Waste to Energy projects are recognized as a CDM option but actually, they would displace a huge number of people, as the waste sector employs about 1% of the economy working in the informal sector. This is likely to get threatened by WtE. WtE impacts livelihoods because it takes in paper plastic cardboard etc for burning, which are also the source of livelihood for the waste collectors. So the question is are we looking at recycling or incineration, and it is an OR, as both are looking at the same resources.

So should you have a centralized model and burn the recyclables, or have a decentralized model, with cash for trash centres and composting. In the choice of the system, the costs, livelihoods, environmental impacts should all be assessed. WtE proponents say their technology is green but we question that strongly. The point is that recycling is robust is independent of doing anything.

It is a sector that ticks. We should look at infrastructure and policies that support it and help it to function much better. Additionally, we have to look at composting and biogas.  In the CDM, composting and recycling are not mentioned as options, which should be corrected.

[1] By David Dodman, Jessica Ayers, and Saleemul Huq, (pp 161)

[2] Michael Renner, Sean Sweeney, and Jill Kubit, (pgs 115-118)

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