The Role of Heritage in Zero Carbon Footprint: Majuli

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities


This was a joint collaborative project initiated between Queen’s University Belfast and the Living Arts Festival, Assam to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of single use plastics on the pristine bio diverse region of Majuli on the Brahmaputra river in Assam. 

 The key objectives were:

 To initiate a dialogue with key stakeholders and to help declare a movement against the single use plastics with the Sattra Adhikar (Abbot) of Dakhinpath Sattra, Sri Sri Nanigopal Dev Goswamiand of Uttar Kamalabari, Sri Sri Janardan Dev Goswami

 A Plastic Mukt Majuli called for the identification of alternatives to plastics, sourced and provided from local heritage materials such as clay cups, clay-tea cups and saucers sets, bamboo based products, gogol materials, and wood products which are viable and reasonable for use. These were displayed in a dedicated stall during the four-day Raas Mahotsav Festival in Dakhinpath Sattra, one of the oldest monasteries. Anti-plastic with the blessing anti-plastic movement (or andolan) was initiated from this Sattra with the announcement and endorsement by the Sattra adhikarraising the consciousness against indiscriminate use of plastics in island. 

As part of the bottom up approach, we focused on marginalised communities such as the Mishims, Deoris, etc who has a tradition of continued use of heritage materials for their use. 

 We sponsored the Living Arts Festivalduring the Rass Mahotsav or Festival. There was a public installation of Art to help raise awareness about the harmful effects of plastics in the island. Using the model of KAP, Knowledge, Attitude and Practicean attempt was made to help change practices at the grassroots level to remove plastic usage in daily life. As part of the bottom up approach, competitions were held over the four days in art, music, and dance which focused explicitly on raising awareness about the damaging effects of plastics. These were confined to children between 5 and 18 years of age and covering both the gender. Providing incentivised prizes helped to galvanise motivations to undertake this movement against plastics from the grassroots level.

 Banning single use plastics in Majuli helped promote activities in cottage and handicrafts industry. This will lead to an enhancement of livelihood options for the marginal communities, thereby fulfilling the UN SDG goals. This will also re-instigate   and re-invigorate pride in their cultural heritage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 Finally a free distribution of Jute bags made in Assam was organised by Queen’s University Belfast, UK for selective audience in Majuli. This was done again as an incentive for people to stop using plastic bags and to promote a movement against single use plastics in daily life. 

 Attempt was also made to identify technology partner such as Bombay Chamber of Commerce, Tata Trust and Airport Authority of India to support alternatives to plastics and promote Green Agenda in Majuli. Local NGOs such as the Maati (Earth) Centre and Festival of Art initiative and the Dakhinpath Sattra, Uttar Kamalabari Sattra helped to extend activities at the grassroots level. 

Period12 Jan 2019

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