On October 23-24, Eco Friends organized a Schools’ Workshop Programme at the Methodist High School. About 150 participants mainly school children, some teachers and resource persons took part in the programme. The main objective of the workshop was to identify outstanding students and teachers as Ganga Ambassadors. Eco Friends declared the workshop participants as Ganga Ambassadors in recognition of the firm commitment and zeal of the participants to contribute to the cause of a clean Ganga.
On the first day of the workshop a Field trip to the Ganga was organized. The participants were taken around the pollution hotspots to see for themselves the state of the Ganga today. Almost all the participants were face to face with the reality of pollution in Ganga for the very first time. The field trip succeeded in making the participants aware of the serious nature of the problem and the urgent need for remedial action.
At the water intake point, Bhairo Ghat, there was all round feelings of shock and surprise when the participants learned that the main source of drinking water of Kanpur city was in such a degraded state. Besides human excreta and the TB hospital drain overflowing and intermixing with the raw water source, the participants witnessed heaps of garbage littered everywhere. Many of the drains allegedly tapped during the Ganga Action Plan were found to be bypassing the untreated effluents freely into the river. The participants realized how the absence of a proper waste collection and disposal system along the river is becoming a serious threat and challenge to stopping pollution from entering the river.
Besides Sisamau nala, all along the tour, the participants were witness to different nalas bypassing raw sewage into the river. Other places visited included Ganga Barrage, Bhaghwat Das Ghat, Massacre Ghat and the Treatment Plants.
The second day was one of brainstorming and preparing the Individual Action Plans by the workshop participants as Ganga Ambassadors. The participating schools also finalized a charter of activities for the schools. The participants came up with a number of brilliant ideas for addressing the multi sided threat to the ecological health of the river. For instance, some schools wanted to adopt a small stretch of the river for clean up exercises, while others were keen on stopping the use of polythene bags and urging others to do the same, organizing Satyagrahas, dharnas and demonstrations against polluting industries and educating the Ganga based communities and the slum dwellers alongside Ganga to come forward to protect the river. The workshop participants expressed serious concern at the lack of public toilets and waste collection and disposal systems along side the river. The setting up of an artificial pond at Kanpur was proposed as an immersion place for worship materials and clay idols. They rightly felt that cleaning up the ponds is much more practical and simpler than cleaning the river.
The workshop participants also took a pledge for life long commitment to the cause of a clean Ganga.
Mrs. Helen Brown, Principal, Methodist High School, inaugurated the Schools’ Workshop. Apart from the Eco Friends team, the resource persons who addressed the students included Ch. Harish Chandra, Dr. A.C. Shukla, Dr. Padma S. Vankar, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Dr. R.K. Singh, Central Pollution Control Board. Michael Duffy, Friends of Vrindavan, an NGO working on waste management at Vrindavan, shared his experiences and motivated the students.
Mrs. Helen Brown underlined the importance of the workshop as a critical means of raising environmental awareness amongst the youth. Ch. Harish Chandra while speaking about the cultural significance of the river felt concerned that the environmental messages are today not being translated into any attempts to keep the Ganga pure and clean. Dr. A.C. Shukla urged that since we are all involved in increasing the pollution levels in the Ganga we have a responsibility to act to save the river.
Dr. R.K. Singh briefly outlined the governmental efforts to check pollution in the river and also spoke about the activities of the Central Pollution Control Board in monitoring and checking pollution levels in the river. Dr. Padma S. Vankar spoke about the industrial pollution and its impact on the ecological health of the river. She spoke at length about the heavy metals contamination and their public health impact.
Mr. Michael Duffy urged the students to come up with practical agendas which they could follow individually, as well as in groups, to stop the pollution of the Ganga and clean up the mess that has already been created.
The presentations were followed by a vigorous interactive session. All participants asked questions, sought clarifications and gave comments on the different themes presented by the resource persons.
In the concluding session the Ganga Ambassadors prepared a charter of activities and Individual Action Plans as a part of their commitment to stopping further pollution in the river. The charter of activities along with the Individual Action Plan was thoroughly discussed and debated amongst the participants.
The Workshop resolved that a Ganga vision should be sought from the President of India and the schools students should invite him to witness for himself the state of the river at Kanpur. We are in the process of collecting signatures of as many school children as possible to send a collective invitation to them on their behalf to the President of India.
Charter of Activities proposed by Ganga Ambassadors is reproduced below:
METHODIST HIGH SCHOOL
1. As students we can maintain “river bank vigilant squads” and every school should be given the responsibility of maintaining a particular strip of the riverbank. These squads of different school will look after the beautification and maintenance of the river bank. Annual competition should be held by Eco-Friends to keep the issue alive, and maintain the enthusiasm of the students.
2. A small area should be provided near the river-bank for carrying out the religious ceremonies. People should not be allowed to dump worship materials and garbage directly into the river.
3. Ban the use of non-bio degradable things including plastic bags. Usage of paper bags should be promoted.
4. Electric crematorium at Bhagwat Das Ghat built under Ganga Action Plan is mostly in disuse. The charges of the crematorium should be lowered so that poor families are encouraged to use them.
5. A certain area around the river-bank should be made a restricted place, and all human activities, which pollute the river, should be banned. All illegal encroachments near the river-bank should be immediately removed.
1. ‘Charity begins at home’. Once this realization finds home in us, we should try to initiate others into the cause and try to form a core group of ‘Ganga Ambassadors’. We, as students, might not be able to do any thing directly. The most potent tool for our core group will be Satyagraha. NGOs, like Eco Friends, can identify defaulters and we, the children can Gherao those defaulters.
2. Form human chains along the Ganga to attract attention towards the plight of the river.
3. Organise quiz and debate competitions among school children.
4. Organise protests to force the governmental agencies to clean up the pollution and punish the polluters.
5. We can request the government to ensure that policemen cremate the unclaimed dead bodies in the electric crematorium set up by the government. NGOs should have the people’s mandate to keep a check on it.
6. We can keep an ‘Eco-Watch’ and ask the students of our school to report any defaulters in their surroundings.
7. We should try to invoke the religious beliefs and faith of the people to our advantage for saving goddess Ganga.
1. We will create awareness among the students by putting up posters and charts in the hallway of our school.
2. We would start an Eco-club which would help the students with innovative ideas to keep the environment clean.
3. We will involve more schools and arrange for trips to the tanneries or industries, and banks of the Ganga to spread awareness about the rising pollution.
4. We can bring our concerns to the notice of the NGOs.
5. We can, as a club, collect funds to help NGOs.
6. Our club would make paper bags and provide it to the students who bring polythene bags.
7. We would prepare street plays to create awareness.
DR. VIRENDRA SWAROOP MEMORIAL PUBLIC SCHOOL, CIVIL LINES
1. Eco clubs can be started in schools and other institutions, so as to make parents and children aware of the problem. These bodies should take steps to check pollution at their own levels.
2. Workshops should be conducted inviting people from different communities so as to get their opinions regarding the solution of their problems.
3. We can request the government that the industrialists who are taking steps to remove pollution, they should be provided with incentives, for instance-reduction in tax, so that more industries are attracted towards the system.
4. Involve the local government for imposing bans on throwing plastic containers and polythene bags in or around the river Ganga.
We would like to conclude by making an appeal: “If you care enough for the living, make a little space for the rivers & water bodies so that the earth becomes a better and safer place to live.”
ST. MARY’S CONVENT
1. To create awareness in the society by organizing visits to certain factories with the help of the school authorities and explain to them about the problems caused by the pollution of their units.
2. Stop using plastic bags, firstly as an individual, and then appeal and plead to others.
3. Many people regard Ganga as sacred. We can make them realize that the river Ganga, by washing and bathing, will lose its sanctity.
4. We have Art and Socially Useful and Productive Work (SUPW) in our curriculum where we can make paper cloth, jute bags and sell them to the people. We can use the money earned for the welfare of the Ganga plan. This will be our small contribution.
5. St. Mary’s Kanpur has a wing, Mary Ward School, for teaching the under privileged. We can make them aware of the pollution of the river and the harm caused by it by enacting plays, and also teaching them to make paper bags and so on.
6. We would also publish articles on Ganga River in our school magazines. As we already have an Eco club, we would organize activities on the issue of river pollution.
Our motto for cleaning up the Ganga is:
“I know I can
I know I will
I know I must”
U P KIRANA SEVA SAMITI VIDYALAYA
1. Formation of Eco- Club:
We five Ganga Ambassadors aim to start a club for which we plan to hold talks with the other fellow students in our schools and invite them to join the club.
2. Activities of the club:
· Display of topic related charts on the school’s notice board.
· Asking the students to keep the school surroundings clean.
· Making compulsory for the students to watch ‘Captain Planet’
3. Hold talks with the people in our locality and ask them for their help in our campaign to reduce pollution around us. Further, we would not waste water or throw flowers or other things in Ganga.
4. Urge the student to use non-motorized vehicle.
5. Invite environmentalists and NGO’s to educate us more on the topic.
6. Anti-polythene campaign can be organized in small scale in the society by asking the shopkeepers not to use polythene
7. We can spread social awareness by asking people to keep the gardens clean and also do it ourselves. We can collect money and get dustbins installed and also ask the Nagar Nigam to remove the garbage periodically.
8. Protesting against the govt. officials who do not work in an Eco- Friendly manner and they should be suspended without pay.
9. Imposing of fines on the people polluting Ganges and even on the industries which directly discharge toxic wastes into the Ganga.
10. We want to make an effort to create a mass awareness among the common people about the importance of our environment and how river pollution would affect our life.
11. Make best use of media such as newspapers for publishing the articles related to the pollution in river Ganga.
DELHI PUBLIC SCHOOL
1. We will try to make our classmates aware of the problem of water pollution by making banners as well as putting posters on the wall magazine.
2. We will make visits to pollution causing industries as well as to those industries, which have adopted proper remedial measures.
3. We will try to reduce the use of polybags in our homes and school campus, specially the canteen area and our surroundings.
4. Since we live near the Ganga, we will plan a school rally to the river side slums, so as to make them understand the importance of cleanliness and educate them to give a pollution-free environment.
5. We have discussed a lot and it is high time we should get up and take immediate action.
DR. VIRENDRA SWAROOP SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL, KIDWAI NAGAR
1. We would conduct awareness programs in the villages.
2. We would prepare banners on this issue and put it up at different places.
3. We would organise roadside programs to inspire the people for cleaning of Ganga.
4. We propose that a ban on polythene should be imposed and implemented.
5. We should provide proper sanitary facilities to the people living near the Ganga.
WENDY HIGH SCHOOL
1. Present to all fellow students about the Ganga Project in our school assembly.
2. Ask more children to participate in Ganga cleaning.
3. In upcoming Science Exhibition we will put up a project about this matter to make the children and their parents aware about pollution.
4. Spread awareness about the proper use of water.
5. Preventing the use of polybags in schools and other places.
6. Our school brings out a regular school newspaper, Wendyite, every month. We will write about the issue of pollution in the magazine.
7. We will write to the editor of newspapers to publish stories about the plight of the Ganga so that common people are aware of it.
Nothing is impossible if we really think about it. If there is a will there is a way.
1. We will try to spread awareness among the students of our schools about Ganga and its pollution through speeches and other programmes.
2. If we go for some seminars or inter-house debate competitions then we will make the other participants aware about the state of Ganga and its importance.
3. In our school we have an Eco-Club, which performs activities to save the environment, like planting trees, organizing poster competitions on various environmental issues. Now our Eco-Club will organize activities to increase awareness about increasing pollution in the river Ganga.
4. We will prefer jute bags more and try to use biodegradable products.
5. On our Annual Day function, we will prepare a skit so that everyone becomes aware and understands our objective to keep Ganga clean. Also, the skit could be held in different localities so that the message reaches out to the masses.
6. In our school magazine we can print about the health hazards caused by the heavy metals found in groundwater.
7. Small dramas and skits can be shown on city channels so as to create mass awareness among the local people.
8. Some lawyers should be contacted so that they help the people obtain constitutional remedies against the industries and other people who abuse the river Ganga.
9. Every month there should a meeting and after that everyone should go and help in cleaning the surroundings of Ganga.
10. The workers of different industries should be made aware of pollution and pollution filters should be installed in them.
11. We can send a notice to the Government that strictest action should be taken against the people who throw wastes into the river.
DR. VIRENDRA SWAROOP EDUCATION CENTRE AWADHPURI
1. Spreading mass awareness about the pollution in Ganga and the city.
2. Maintaining the Eco-system, by using biodegradable things and planting of trees and plants.
3. Prevent degradation of soil by providing rich organic matter in treated sewage to the fields thus reducing their dependence on chemical fertilization.
4. We shall make the spirit of cleaning Ganga a part of our lives and part of our prayers so that the spirit of cleaning Ganga kindles for ever.
THE CHINTELS HIGHER SECONDARY SCHOOL
We the Ganga Ambassadors of the Chintels School solemnly pledge on this day to join hands with Eco-Friends to make Ganga as pure as it was in the past. In the future we shall be:
1. Introducing awareness programmes on the preservation of Ganga (like debates, quiz, class-discussions. etc.).
2. Exchanging ideas between students of other schools by organising regular interaction sessions.
3. Occasional visiting various sites along with schoolmates or neighborhood children to spread awareness.
4. Collecting money to get dustbins installed and also ask the Nagar Nigam to clear them periodically.
5. Generating public awareness.
1. Water from river Ganga should be collected in small reservoirs, which can be used by the citizens to perform their rituals. This reservoir can be cleaned easily at regular intervals.
2. Give our full support to organisations like Eco-Friends.
3. A Mass action plan should be decided. The movement should take place at grass root level. Rural people should be educated about Ganga’s condition.
4. Use of treatment plants on large basis.
5. Use of cloth bags and paper bags should be encouraged.
6. Create awareness among our surrounding locality.
7. We will prepare charts and banners for spreading awareness of school students.
8. Use of Garbage bins should be promoted.
9. Insist shopkeepers to sell their things in paper bags.
10. Pamphlets could be distributed and pasted at public places to attract huge masses.
11. Save every drop of water possible.
12. Have a link with websites of environmental organisations.
13. Discourage the practice of ‘Durga Visarjan’ into the river.
HUDDARD HIGH SCHOOL
1. Perform Awareness Programs.
2. Go to the villages and slums to teach them about sanitary conditions.
3. Display charts on our bulletin boards.
4. Educate the masses about pollutants found in the groundwater and the health hazards caused by them.
DR. VIRENDRA SWAROOP SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL
1. We should keep our surroundings clean.
2. Conduct awareness programmes in villages.
3. We should take out a rally against CPCB for its inaction and improper working in Kanpur.
4. There should be banners in schools for the cleanliness of Ganga.
5. There should a road side programmes for the cleanliness of Ganga.
6. We should try to put a ban on polythenes.
7. We should provide proper sanitary facilities to the people living near the Ganga.
8. Drainage systems should be improved. Purification plants should be set up to clean the drainage water before releasing it to Ganga.
9. We should keep proper check of the pollution plants which are set up in the factory.
10. The outlets of the infectious hospitals should be removed from the course of the river Ganga.
KEDRIYA VIDYALAYA No. 3 AIR FORCE STATION
1. We can raise awareness programmes in our neighbourhoods.
2. Tanneries should be stopped from polluting the river and their safe disposal should be ensured.
3. Dead bodies should be thrown into the river. Electric crematoriums should be used instead.
4. We should not let our domestic waste go into the river.
5. Plant more trees to stop pollution.
6. Raise awareness at the Ghats so that the Pandas and Pujaris do not throw worship materials into the river.
7. Hold mass awareness rallies by the students of our school.
8. The students would begin by changing our own polluting habits with a view of the future.
ST. ALOSISUS HIGH SCHOOL
1. Strikes, dharnas, shouting slogans and rallies can be taken out in major areas of cities as well as in areas near the Ghat so as to create effective awareness amongst the people.
2. Utilise print and electronic media for this purpose.
3. Provision of community toilets along the Ghats.
4. Make electric crematoria cheaper so that more and more people can use it.
5. Help in protecting aquatic life in the river.
6. Ghats should be developed together with recreational facilities and proper garbage disposal systems. This would help the local people to get an additional source of income and they shall look after the Ghats well.
7. Draw the attention of the government towards proper treatment facilities of drinking water and removal of heavy metals in them.
8. Educate people in throwing polythene bags and plastics into the river in order to have clean drinking water.