An appeal to PM Modi:

This Environment day, let us resolve to feed our mother. #LetHerEat

Respected Prime Minister of India,

I begin by offering gratitude for the decisive and proactive steps that India has taken under your leadership and appreciation for your attention towards my request.

Year 2020 has brought great losses for India. Despite the challenges, Bharat Mata is holding her head high as her sons and daughters remain determined to overcome all odds. But overwhelmed by the present crises, we must not forget the greater challenges that the future holds and must prepare India to face them. Hoping for the best for our country, I bring the following concern to your attention.

With rapid urbanization, India’s long-term wellbeing appears to be in a tug of war. On one hand, we have a growing economy and high hopes from the future. On the other hand, deteriorating environment and growing pollution – major impediments to sustainable growth and human wellbeing - have become typical characteristics of these urban areas. Several measures have been undertaken to improve these conditions, like controlling pollution, cleaning air and water, planting trees, and developing new technologies. Such measures definitely help but to improve the world around us, we have ignored the world beneath us.

The soil in urban areas is the foundation of our cities and also of the urban ecosystem that supports us. Soil plays an important role in maintaining good air and water quality, arresting pollution, regulating climate cycles, preventing natural disasters and even in boosting human immunity. But the urban soil often remains ignored as it does not offer agricultural benefits.

A relatively young scientific subject, urban soil research suggests that with rapid economic development and urbanization, urban soil plays an increasingly important role in environmental and human health. It has been found that urban soils are usually severely malnourished in comparison to soils in natural states. As a result, urban ecosystem loses its capability to maintain healthy living conditions – further worsening the already polluted urban environment and damaging human health. Excess depletion of urban soil can even lead to an ecosystem collapse, making it impossible to survive in cities.

Soil needs food and water to remain healthy, just like all of us. This makes our food waste a very precious resource, which can be used as compost to improve the health and functionality of urban soil. Regrettably, we take pride in converting our food waste into fuel, without realizing that it may be an offense against Mother Nature. For a sustainable and prosperous future, we must LetHerEat.

The increasing population and decreasing arable land further heightens the urgency to promote urban soil health. According to a NBSS&LUP-ICAR survey, 44% of India’s total land is already degraded and the future needs will exert a great pressure on the limited land resources of India. Improving urban soil health can not only improve living conditions but also offer the possibility of urban agriculture, thereby supporting local economy and urban food security; thus taking India closer to being Atmanirbhar.

The gradual death of urban ecosystems has already begun. If this starvation continues, it may be expected that by 2030, over 8 of India’s top cities would undergo a severe disruption, affecting up to 90 million citizens. By 2050, up to 15 cities may meet a similar fate, affecting over 200 million Indians. Soil management must therefore be integrated into urban planning and development strategies to maintain ecological health and achieve sustainable development.

To bring alive this concept of ecological replenishment, and to improve the future of our cities and their occupants; I submit to your attention Project LetHerEat: A comprehensive sustainability initiative intended to revive the ecological health of cities, improve living conditions, generate employment opportunities and strengthen local food security.

Together we have made India Swachh Bharat. It is now time to make it Swasth Bharat.

Sincerely,

Anshul Kapoor