Sumaira Abdulali is an environmental activist focusing on sand mining and noise pollution. She is the founder of NGO Awaaz Foundation. Sand mining, which has now become an issue of global concern was first reported by her to the authorities after she noticed sand being illegal mined from Kihim Beach in 2004, where she was physically attacked during a sand mining site inspection. Thereafter, she convened an NGO movement for protection of public-interest activists, ‘Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists’ (MITRA) and filed the first public interest litigation against sand mining, resulting in policy change at State and national level. She helped bring sand mining to notice worldwide by participating in documentary films and awareness campaigns and contributing to print, radio and television news.
She participated in the first Roundtable of the GRID Geneva United Nations Environment Programme and gave her inputs to their first report, ‘Sand and Sustainability: Finding new solutions for environmental governance of global sand resources.’ Her work was featured throughout in the final report published in May 2019.
Her other focus campaign against noise pollution has become a citizens’ movement and has forced policy change in India through court interventions, awareness and advocacy campaigns. In 2019, Mumbai was the only city in India where noise pollution significantly reduced during the entire festival season and where the Government of Maharashtra declared an anti-noise pollution year in 2018.
A High Court Order pursuant to her public interest litigation protects a wildlife corridor frequented by tigers, elephants and other wildlife. The ‘Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor’ connects National Parks and is part of the Western Ghats, a UNESCO Bio Diversity hotspot.
Sumaira was co Chairman of the Bombay Natural History’s Conservation sub Committee. She was Honorary Secretary of the BNHS and is currently a Governing Council member.
Sumaira’s work has been extensively reported by the press and media. She has participated in documentary films, television and radio nationally and internationally. Her columns have been published in Times of India, Mumbai Mirror, DNA, Outlook India Magazine and Dainik Bhaskar. She writes a monthly column for Forbes India.
She has spoken and presented her work at numerous TEDx events, at Universities including Harvard University Boston, IITs, Anjuman-e Islam, Delhi University, Bombay University, BITS Pilani, Shoolini University and other youth and community organizations. She has been awarded the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice, the Olive Crown Award and is an Ashoka Fellow.
- International Advertising Association’s Green Crusader of the Year ‘Olive Crown Award’ 2015
- TACCI ‘Pillar of Hindustanee Society’ Award 2015
- Environmental Club of India World Environment Day ‘Paryavaran Gaurav Award’ 2015
- Young Enviromentalists Programme Trust Womens’ Day Award 2012
- Sanctuary Asia ‘Spotlight’ 2010
- Harmony Foundation’s ‘Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice’ 2010
- Moneylife Foundation’s Women Day Award 2010
- Ashoka Foundation Lifetime Fellow elected 2008
- Public Concern for Governance Trust ‘Naveleen Kumar Award ‘2005
- Rotary Club of Bombay ‘Taru Lalwani Award for Protection of the Environment’ 2005
- Bombay Environmental Action Group Award 2004