Shri Diwan Singh
A think, humble man dressed in semi-formal; Diwan Singh – a name well known in the community working for Environment Protection and otherwise among the activists.
Grown up in Delhi, he has been a witness to the harm being caused to the natural environment in the name of Development. This alarming situation made him what he is today. He has been a founding member of the NGO Parivartan (led by Arvind Kejriwal) and presently working with India Heritage First and individually as well. Diwan Singh is presently working on Revival of Water Bodies in Dwarka. He is a member of the LG Appointed Dwarka Water Body Committee. He has been able to get quite a lot of work done and he aims to revive at least 5-6 water bodies before Monsoons this year (2014). Work is in progress in full swing.
Here is Dwarka Express (DE) in Conversation with Diwan Singh (DS).
DE: Sir, accept our heartfelt congratulations for the work you are doing for protection of our natural environment. What was it that inspired you to do this and when?
DS: I grew up in Delhi and was very disturbed to see Natural Resources being exploited with each passing day. Huge green areas were made barren for some development work or the other. I wondered what kind of development is was where our trees, birds, ponds, open spaces were being turned into concrete structures. I wanted to speak against it but had no platform.
Then in 1999, I joined the NGO Parivartan as a Founding Member and got a lot of working experience. In 2004, we were doing an awareness camp in Vasant Kunj. Somebody showed a few newspaper articles about the Delhi Ridge area. In those articles, I read about Dr. Vikram Soni, who has been working on environmental protection. I met and got what I always wanted – a platform to work for the environment and since then there has been no looking back.
DE: Please tell us about a few of your major works.
DS: We have been doing a lot of small-big projects in last 10 years but a few important ones I would like to mention are:
a) RIDGE BACHAO ANDOLAN
We tied up with NGO’s, RWA and common citizens of Delhi to form this Ridge Bachao Andolan. We went upto the Supreme Court against encroachment on Ridge by DDA and Indian Army. Though we got mixed results for this but were able to save the Ridge to a great extent.
b) PROTECTION OF THE YAMUNA FLOOD PLAINS IN DELHI (Yamuna Satyagraha)
Myself and Dr. Vikram Soni were incorporated as members of the Technical Advisory Group of the YRDA – Yamuna River Development Authority. We did research on value of Yamuna Flood Plains as natural water reservoir. This research was published in the Current Science (2009). As a result of our efforts, further construction on the Yamuna Flood Plains was stopped in 2008. This is the reason why a large part of the Yamuna Flood Plains is still intact.
DE: What are the hurdles you faced or face during the course of your activism?
DS: See, what we are doing is all voluntary work and we don’t get paid for it so a major hurdle is finances. Then there is a huge lack of Public Participation so our work increases a lot. Govt. Officials most of the times avoid us and our inputs. They fear if the common men like us are involved, they won’t be able to continue their wrongful and corrupt practises.
DE: Any message for Dwarka Express Readers.
DS: Yes. I believe each one of us should work towards sustainable development. Also, each one of you have a duty to look around and analyse the natural resources available and intervene in the so called development projects if you believe they do not follow the principles of the sustainable development.
Thank you so much sir for giving us time from your busy schedule. www.dwarkaexpress.com is with you in every endeavour for protection of natural environment. Wish you all the very best!