Recently, Grade 6 visited the state of Gujarat, to understand the concept of sustainability, urbanisation and sustainable communities. The trip took us through Ahmedabad, Little Rann, the Rann of Kutch, Dholavira and Bhuj over a course of 8 days, 2 flights and miles of pungent bus rides.
We started our journey at the Safai Vidyalaya, where we learnt that adequate sanitation is crucial for a community to be sustainable and that bio-gas can be used to produce carbon-free flames, which can greatly reduce carbon emissions. We also learnt about the importance of public domain – and how public spaces can be used for a variety of amenities including parks, malls, hotels and squares. These public spaces can be used in ingenious ways, such as how HCP used the Sabarmati riverfront project to shift the economic base of
Ahmedabad from the declining textile industry to tourism. We figured that sustaining traditions can be achieved by using locally accessible and indigenous materials, not materials inappropriate to the environment of the region.
While a tour of Ahmedabad converted most of us into activists who supported environment-friendly development, Gujarat’s ecosystem helped us understand that wildlife and nature need to be preserved for a community to be sustainable. Dasada Wild Ass Sanctuary is the only place where the Wild Ass can be found and it is also the resting ground for migratory flamingos. Moving to the social side of sustainability, we used the example of Amul to understand the fundamentals of a cooperative, a system where the producers are also shareholders. We understood that this system removes the middleman, who has the potential to exploit the farmers, and so the industry works towards the recognition of farmers.
Dholavira is a Harappan site that has survived for 4500 years! The reason it has survived till today is because of the physical bonds between bricks – an interlocking system. The site also showed advanced drainage and adequate sanitation, and a road network running through the city. We also visited KHAMIR, which supports local artisans so that local art is not lost, and culture is sustained. KHAMIR is also a pioneer in waste management – it turns waste plastic into stylish bags. Finally, we visited Hunnarshala where they use locally
accessible materials to create affordable housing. Physical bonds are used for construction, as cement only has a 50 year lifespan. They also use the pace frame – a lightweight frame to hold up the roof. Armed with all this new-found knowledge and brimming with excitement to put them in practice, all 47 of us returned home, pledging to be ‘eco-warriors’ to save our city from the negative consequences of rapid urbanisation.