There comes a time when leaders fail to take notice of pressing matters that have catastrophic repercussions on the planet and it is the people who come together to fix the situation. 2016 was a year that noted some of the hottest months, and a year later, global powers are still refusing to acknowledge the consequences of years worth of environmental neglect. And while the rest of the world is trying to wrap their around the events of the Paris Agreement, tucked away in the Waynad District of Kerala is a village, called Meenangadi, that has made history in becoming the first carbon neutral community in India.
Carbon neutrality is defined as the state of achieving zero carbon emissions. Such a condition would have dramatic effects on the current climatic pattern. Meenangadi’s efforts began in the year 2016, as a part of World Environment Day. The project jump-started when the Kannur zoology department reached out to the village panchayat and conducted assessments on the current carbon levels in the plants and soil in the vicinity. According to a report by The Better India, this assessment was followed by 20-day survey by the Kerala Agricultural University to further allocate wards to monitor carbon levels and streamline strategies, initiatives and activities. Certain initiatives included the Attakolli’Jaiva park, an organic farming project where the use harmful pesticides and existing trends of importing vegetables and fruits were discouraged. Amongst others were waste management, redeveloping forest lands, water body restoration and incentives for forest protection.
Additionally, a budget of Rs. 80 lakh was spent on establishing an electric crematorium in the area, which drastically brought down the use of wood for cremations. Plastic bags are being replaced by handloom bags and bicycles are distributed to school children to encourage eco-friendly methods of transport.
The village’s efforts were recognised globally, and they also received the National Award for the “Best Panchayat” (we didn’t even know that existed!) for MNREGA implementation for the past 3 years. The crowd sourced initiative is a very positive direction in tackling climate change at the grass root levels, especially in a time when world leaders are still ignoring the fact that there is a gaping hole in the o-zone layer.