Youth Interviews: Environmental Activists – Pallavi Mohabe

Meet 17-year-old award-winning environment champion, Pallavi Mahobe. Pallavi lives in an urban slum in Ishwar Nagar, located in the capital city of the western state of Madhya Pradesh. Pallavi is an example of how children living in urban slums interact with their environment. Urban slums in India are shanties that have erupted in the vicinity of a city. Set up as erratic spaces, urban slums are categorised by the unsanitary living conditions such as burning heaps of dump in slum settlements, and so on.

Meera Nagar, Ishwar Nagar is one of the largest slums in Bhopal that incidentally is also the largest garbage dumping ground. The dumping ground is used to burn heaps of garbage collected across 5 zones in the city. On many occasions, the fire from the garbage burning would spread to the adjacent slum huts and shanties. The dumping ground would also emanate a stinky stench as pits for mosquito breeding.

Pallavi took up the mantle to stop this hazardous practise from polluting the environment. She, along with the youth members of NIWCYD—a tdh partner, decided to raise their voice against it. And raise their voice they did! They wrote letters to the Municipality Commissioner, a pursuit taken up by the women committees of the area as well. They used every medium to communicate their message—twitter, Facebook, letters, personal visits. Resultantly, the Municipal Corporation installed a Waste Recycle Plant in place of the dumping ground. This initiative soon gathered great inspiration and momentum and expanded into an initiative to separate dry waste from wet waste. The children spread awareness in their and neighbouring communities on the importance of waste segregation. Now, 350 families are consciously separating dry waste from wet waste.

Pallavi and her group didn’t stop there, they brought up the issue of waste segregation at a round table discussion organised by the Municipal Corporation Office in Bhopal. The Municipal Corporation vehicle/truck, responsible for collecting garbage from houses indicates its arrival through a song about garbage disposal and waste segregation. Even though the dry waste was being segregated from wet waste, bio-hazardous waste such as medical waste, sanitary waste, wasn’t getting disposed separately. Pallavi and her group used the platform to raise the importance of separating the bio-hazardous waste. Their initiatives bore results and a black box for dumping bio-hazardous was installed by the Corporation to the waste collection vehicle. The awareness song was also modified to include the importance of black box for dumping such waste. Pallavi and team pursued many such other initiatives, such as their campaign on the ban of single use plastic, “BachhokiVasundhar” (Children’s Earth), spread awareness among the employees of Crompton Greaves Company in Raisen to ban plastic bottles and plastic disposal on their campus. Now the entire office building is plastic free!Through their “Roko-Toko”(stop and taunt) campaign, they worked with the shopkeeper committees to install dustbins in the market and impose penalties on those defaulting. Pallavi’s work has been awarded and recognised by the government of Madhya Pradesh. She is the recipient of Swachhta brand ambassador awarded by Municipal Corporation of Bhopal and with GouravAward by ParyavaranAndolan (The Environment Campaign).