I recently attended a public meeting about Aravali and the Bandhwari landfill site. During the meeting, a lady saw a lady make her point of view quite forcefully and rely on many facts and figures. It was clear from the way she spoke to the officials present at the meeting that she was passionate about the environment. His name was Vaishali Rana.
Vaishali Rana, housewife and resident of Gwal Pahari, Gurgaon, is originally from Himachal Pradesh. She holds an MA in Heritage Conservation and Management from DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research Management) / IP University. Previously, she was a member of the cabin crew at Indian Airlines for 16 years until 2011. As of now, in addition to running her home, she works for the betterment of Gurugram and its environment.
The inspiration and the beginning
Vaishali Rana says, “I originally come from a state, Himachal Pradesh, which has over 60 percent forest cover. This is where my inclination and love for the environment come from. When I realized that Haryana has the lowest forest cover in the country at 3.6%. I was shocked. There is almost no respect for nature, forests and water bodies among the people of Gurgaon in general, including the government apparatus of Haryana. It alarmed me and propelled me into activism mode. While I don’t like being called an activist, I’m more of an environmentalist in spirit.
In 2015, she began her efforts to save Li Nallah, in Gwal Pahari, Gurgaon, from a builder who encroached upon her and built a 28-story residential building there. The Li Nallah is a very important tributary of Kosht-Badshahpur Nallah which saves Gurgaon from flooding every monsoon.
In addition to being an conservationist, she also works with a passion for animals. “On a daily basis, with the help of a few volunteers, I launched an initiative last year during confinement, to feed around 100 stray cows abandoned on the roads of Gurgaon every day. We are successfully feeding them Chaara every day until today.
Vaishali believes that saving nature is the only thing one can do to save civilization in the future. She has worked for the deconcretization and restoration of water sources such as Li-Kosht-Badshahpur Nullah in Gwal Pahari. In February 2019, approximately half a km of Nullah was freed from encroachments by a builder and restored to its original condition. “Today Barsati Nallah is a great groundwater recharge source and has two levels of tree planting on its flood plains. It was after having fought a case for 2 years at NGT, OA 184, filed in 2017 “, she says.
Vaishali also strives to optimize groundwater recharge and harvest rainwater to increase the water table in Gurgaon. She said, “In March 2021, GMDA submitted a report, in response to my OA 523 case at NGT, which stated that 950 acres of non-urbanized areas of Gurgaon, that’s basically Aravallis, will be used for artificial recharge in creating control dams inside Aravallis In addition, we have worked on the revitalization of storm water streams, and eight ponds will also be created to capture as much rain water as possible. OA 523, MCG submitted a report that it will relaunch 26 city ponds of which 4 have already been returned (two ponds at Sukhrali, Basai Pond and Kadipur Pond).
Vaishali is a registered volunteer with the Haryana Wildlife Department and has dealt with several wildlife rescue issues. The surroundings of Gurugram have always been rich in flora and fauna. She has endeavored to preserve this wealth. She declares: “After 2 years of aggressive monitoring, in December 2020, road signs essential for wildlife were installed on the 3 highways crossing the Aravallis, which are eco-sensitive. Over the years, these three highways have resulted in the deaths of several wildlife (including leopards) due to high speed traffic. Another positive point was the installation of rough strips in February 2021, to slow down high-speed traffic on the highways inside the Aravallis, in order to prevent the death of wild animals. So, I feel good if this happens during my regular follow-ups and reminders. “
Over the years, Vaishali has written extensively on topics related to environmental protection. She has participated in and led water conservation initiatives and planting campaigns to do her part for the environment in her region.
On RTI and social networks
Vaishali used the RTI to obtain information and sensitize the community and the authority to the realities on the ground. She says, “RTI is the best method for obtaining authentic detailed information, which serves as the basis for initiating legal proceedings against government agencies and offending individuals. There are only two renowned environmentalists, in all of Gurgaon (among a population of around 20 lakhs), who have used this tool effectively to file several cases, to save the Aravalli and its water bodies, and they have been my mentors and my guide. , Vivek Kamboj and SS Colonel Oberoi.
Vaishali’s future plan is to return to the hills and open one of the largest animal shelters or farms in northern India for abandoned animals used and abused by humans. It also plans to rectify government policies to make Himachal Pradesh a zero waste state and an even greener state.
She enjoys spending her free time exploring India on wheels, bird watching, visiting national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Asked about her message to the community, she replied, “Wake up people and take action. Global warming is real and we are already late to stop it! “