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THE SUNDAY TIMES OF INDIA

Gajanan Khergamker

These kids are into serious stuff!

Ahmedabad: These kids don't bolt off to the nearest disco on weekends. Or, for that matter, rush to their neighbourhood crossroads by dusk to catch a glimpse of bashful lasses doing their rounds.

This group is into energy conservation, garbage management and other high-sounding activities thwarting popular notions that environment is associated somehow with run-down, dusty-looking activists. It is pleasantly surprising, considering their youngest entrant Mayank Garg is just 15.

"We feel that we've learnt a lot through CYWEN (Club of Youth Working For Environment)," feels founder member Hardik Modi. Sounds rather unnerving as it comes from a 21-year-old founder member, doesn't it?

To top it, he's been associated with the group for over seven years. At an age when just about anything frivolous would appeal to their senses, they're deeply involved with Saving The Earth!

The youth club, supported by the Centre for Environment Education (CEE), has members in the age-group of 15-21 years. And, "even those older are welcome to join us as Friends of CYWEN," quips Modi.

The involvement of youth in an activity as somber-sounding is rather commendable. And, how it shows! Their attractively made bookmarks, for one, are very catchy and informative. Like the one which reads: Did you know? A 40 Watts tubelight consumes not 40 but ...50 Watts! It goes on to offer: Use an Electronic choke to save 15 Watts. And: Using a Zero Watt bulb...Is it zero or WATT? followed by an answer below: It consumes 15 Watts of Electricity.

CYWEN, on its part, is involved with plantation and its maintainence besides reating an ideal solid waste management system on a 8,543 sq.m. plot near Manekbaug Society project alloted to CEE to be developed into an urban forest.

In a noteworthy gesture, on 26th January last year, CYWEN members planted 95 saplings of 13 species of trees at the plot which had been given to CEE under Ahmedabad Green Partnerships Programme by AMC.

Formed on June 5 1996, World Environment Day, the body has an optimum capacity of 30 members. And now, on hte brink of it's first birthday, CYWEN looks like it has come of age.

"Our parents, for one, don't really take us seriously," says Modi. And, understandably enough. When they'd prefer their children spending summer vacations at a computer course or a professional development module, environment for sure is the last thing they'd consider.

This group, for sure, is a serious lot. With experts dropping by for field visits and orientation programmes, CYWEN is dedicated to forming that crucial link between the people and public authorities.

"More often than not, we don't realise what our civic body is really up to,"says a member. "It's only after an authority in the corporation drops by and holds a detailed session on their activities, do we realise," he says.

"It's important to know what they're doing. Otherwise, there is a communication gap. And, ensuing misunderstandings," he adds.

Besides running a monthly newsletter on their activities, they conduct extensive surveys to garner public opinion on garbage removal, energy consumption... they prop up a mobile exhibition at the drop of a hat. Estimated at Rs 1 lakh, their collapsible exhibition has been on display for over 70 occasions.

Their tips are very viable, unlike the usual jargon. "Cut down on disposable items, carry your own coffee mugs," "Dust the bulbs. Use fewer bulbs in a multi-bulb fixture," or, yet simpler, "Buy in bulk to avoid packaging wastes."

With the teenager abandoning trifling vocations associated with his age in the pursuit of a clean world - a goal so importunate - the adult is left with little option but to follow suit.

See the original clipping from 'The Sunday Times of India'

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