Wednesday, June 07, 2017

World's first carbon-neutral village - Meenangaadi in Wayanad, Kerala ..

Ponds help raise watertable and charge wells
In 2006, the English village of Ashton Hayes of 10,000 people tried to become the world's first Carbon neutral community. Over the last decade they could reduce their emissions by 23% but is still to be a carbon-neutral community. 

When the all-polluting US and the Western world is struggling to live up to their  promises to build a greener world, Meenangaadi village in Wayanad district in Kerala has already taken the great steps to become by 2020 the world's first carbon-neutral village ..

With the active cooperation of the supporting government, public and the local administrators, the village of Meenangaadi is becoming a model to the whole world !!

A pond of the 467 new ones dug to catch water and grow fish ..
The Finance Minister of the state of Kerala in India Dr Thomas Issac went to UN HQ in Nov 2015 to present a paper on Waster Disposal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, He came back with an audacious plan - make Meenangaadi, a village of 34,000 people in Wayanad district as India's first (and world's first)  Carbon-neutral village by 2020.

Nestled in the quiet and pristine Western Ghats this village of 34,000 people of over 54 sq. km area has been facing the worst implications of climate change, with drop in rainfall precipitation and lowering of water table, a decline in rice production and spices like cardamom, pepper, tea, coffee etc.. By 2050 AD, the average rise in temperature around this area is predicted to be around 2.5-3 deg C

Beena Vijayan, Meenangaadi gram panchayat president
taking soil samples to find the Carbon content in
Meenangaadi soil. Courtesy - The Hindu. 
The villagers are well aware of the ills of pollution, they have been well informed of the benefits of a carbon neutral environment for their children and grandchildren and together they sincerely desire the town to be carbon-neutral. Not to forget, the impact they would be making globally as the first Carbon neutral village of the world !!
"To bring the town’s net carbon dioxide emissions down to zero, we will conserve and expand our forests, plant more trees, reduce carbon emissions from households, promote self sustenance through organic farming, and recycle our waste.” - Beena Vijayan, Meenangaadi gram panchayat President .
Scenic views around Meenangaadi ..
In their greening spree, the villagers have planted on 38 acres of land (the area of 20 football pitches)  which includes public and private land, 4,50,000 coffee plants, 32,500 cardamom trees and 20,000 other shade trees which were provided to the villagers for free by the panchayat. Free organic vegetable seed and buds belonging to cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, beans, bitter gourd, ladies finger, tapioca and chilli were also provided to the villagers to help imbibe a sense of awareness of organic farming practices among the villagers.

The crematorium in the village now runs on LPG saving precious wood which was earlier used to burn dead bodies. The town has completely shifted to LED bulbs and in even envisaging starting an LED bulb manufacturing firm in the village to meet the needs (the problem of having to offset the carbon emissions from the plant would be the next problem for them).

Getting ready to get global attention ..
Of the 467 ponds newly dug in the village to help raise water table and charge the wells in the town. almost 420 of them are fish rearing bringing extra revenue for the people of the village and for owners of private compounds where some of these ponds have been dug. The village has also set up an aerobic composting plant, that converts the organic wet waste in the village to manure that could be used for the vegetation. A bio-gas plant to convert organic waste to energy and a solar park that will feed electricity to the energy grid of the state are other ways by which the village is planning to go carbon-neutral.

The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) Chennai is helping the village authorities along with a group, Thanal from Trivandrum to do a soil audit and energy consumption audit in each of the houses in the village to find out how much Carbon the village emits and then offset it by their innovative actions as outlined above.

Click here for a copy of the presentation I gave at Alliance University, Bangalore in Jan '18.


Ref : 1. Balachandran Manu, The world's first Carbon neutral town could end up in the planet's most polluted country,, Last visited 24 June 2017.

         2., Kerala village to be the first Carbon-neutral panchayat, , Last visited 23 June 2017

        3. Manoj, E.M., Meenangaadi marches to Carbon-neutral tag, The Hindu, March 2017..

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