ROTARY CLUB PROJECTS                                                    Up
It all began with a few friends, all ‘young’ citizens of the city, deciding to join a Rotary Club to make a difference to their city in their individual capacities. However, eventually the idea of forming a new club and setting new standards in the Rotary world was conceived. This led to the establishment of the ‘Rotary Club of Calcutta Mayfair’ which was chartered and installed on 27th June 2011.

What this young club has achieved in a short span of one year, is indeed an achievement each one of us should take inspiration from. Their range of projects is indeed remarkable. In the course of one year, they have set up a Computer Literacy Centre for underprivileged children in association with the Kolkata Police at the Bhawanipore Police Station; they have adopted a school in Howrah called ‘Guru Ramdas English Medium Public School; they have adopted 94 children of life imprisoned inmates of the Alipore Correctional Home in association with the West Bengal Police and launched their dream project ‘Thalassemia Free Kolkata 2020’ aimed at spreading awareness, detecting and preventing the disorder.

The two most innovative projects however were, ‘Save Our Sparrows’ and ‘Run for Change’.

The ‘Save Our Sparrows’ project was an initiative aimed at reviving the dwindling avian population of the city. It sought to bring to people’s notice, that sparrows have been enlisted as endangered species and we must do our bit to conserve them since they play a very important role in maintaining the ecological balance of urban areas like those in which we live. Transmission towers which hamper their navigation abilities and the replacement of ‘green’ by ‘concrete’ has led to this critical stage. The project was launched at the Calcutta International School by Mrs. Maneka Gandhi. It sought to involve as many school students as possible. The Club also distributed over 500 bird feeders in the city.

The ‘Run for Change’ marathon was organized by the Kolkata Improvement Trust (KIT) and the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) with the Club being the event associates. It was aimed at helping showcase the natural richness of the 192 acre national park, Rabindra Sarovar, also referred to as ‘the lungs of south Calcutta’ and to entice people to help conserve it. This grand scale event was attended by the mayor of the city, the minister of urban development, Tollywood personalities like Rituparna Sen Gupta and various other personalities from all over the city. The marathon was flagged by Miss Earth 2010, Nicole Faria. The marathon provided for a track of 5km for amateurs and one of 10km for professionals. This event saw people from the ages of seven to seventy ‘running for a change’.  Students from over 40 schools took part in this marathon. What was particularly impressive was the fact that the club brought together many specially abled people to participate in the marathon. The event was a great success and has contributed to the transformation of the park in the long run.

The Club was most recently acknowledged at the District Rotary Awards for their contribution to the society and was awarded 11 trophies for its various projects. This acknowledgement, though testimony to their success, seems to be just one of the many milestones in its promising journey.
 
SOLECKSHAWS ON KOLKATA STREETS                        Up

Soleckshaws – a solar-powered vehicle that also allows the rider to pedal has been developed and manufactured by Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute in Durgapur. It is a zero-carbon-emitting vehicle that uses both mechanical and electrical energy and can achieve a maximum speed of 18 kilometers per hour.

Five soleckshaws were presented to rickshaw pullers at the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) free of cost.

There are about 6,000 hand-pulled rickshaws on the streets of Kolkata. A controversial decision taken by the previous Left Front government to ban the “colonial practice” of one man pulling another has not yet been fully implemented and they can still be seen on the streets of the city.

So far the soleckshaws have been introduced in Gurgaon and Rajasthan where they have been rather successful.

The soleckshaw at present is worth Rs 25,000, but according to the comment made by Dr. Indranil Manna, the Director of Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), the prices will significantly reduce once the demand of the vehicle increases.

The license for the vehicle, however, is available at a cheap rate of Rs. 100 only. “It can be helpful in the lanes and by-lanes of Kolkata,” said Dr. Samir Kumar Brahmachari, Director-General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

The initiative to manufacture these solar-powered rickshaws has been taken up by the Central Government agency under the initiative CSIR-800. The aim of the scheme is to utilise the fruits of cutting-edge science for the benefit of the 800 million Indians who are at the bottom of the pyramid, Dr. Brahmachari added.

Devyani Sarda

 
PLASTIC BAN FREES BANGUR AVENUE OF DELUGE
                                                                                                           
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Till last year, the mention of monsoon would give nightmares to residents of Bangur Avenue, Kolkata, as it would only take a couple of hours of downpour to flood the locality with chest deep waters.

However, now that is a thing of the past. This year, heavy showers of rain which left various pockets of the city flooded could not cause much harm to Bangur Avenue. Bangur Avenue was flooded only with ankle deep water which too was drained out in a few hours.

This was made possible due the successful banning of plastic bag usage (which was the essential cause for water logging) in the locality.

The plastic ban issued on 23 August, 2007 may remain only on paper for most parts of the city but is strictly followed in Bangur Avenue by everyone including meat and fish vendors, vegetable sellers and fruit sellers. This ban is not due to vigilant agencies but due the Bangur Resident’s Association and also the local Trinamool Congress Councillor, Mriganka Bhattacharja.

The initiative began as early as the year 2000 with spreading awareness among shopowners, school children and local clubs as the first step. Implementation began in phases. Many people who at first defied the ban were caught, reprimanded and penalized. This tough act worked wonders with those flouting the ban.

Five pumps to drain out rainwater have also been installed under a Rs. 6.5 crore KMDA project in Bangur Avenue.

Devyani Sarda