This year United Nations dedicated the World Environment Day to promote “worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres appealed to reject single-use plastic, Refuse what you can’t re-use to make a cleaner and greener world.
Caritas India promoted Udhayam programme to focus its intervention towards Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction through Chengalpattu Rural Development Society (CRDS), one of the implementing partners to bring in awareness on environmental protection and total well-being among the stakeholders. On July 31, 2018, CRDS conducted a mass awareness rally on the ill effects of indiscriminate usage of plastic in Chengalpattu, the Kancheepuram district headquarters in coordination with St.Mary’s Higher Secondary School.
The public also joined the rally and they have distributed pamphlets that highlighting the concept of “Refuse-Reuse- Recycle Plastic”. During the 90 minutes rally that started at 10.00AM, media persons interviewed the organizers and the students asking about the significance of the rally.
The Principal of St. Mary’s School, Sr.Nirmala co-ordinated the arrangements for the rally wherein 680 students participated. The rally was jointly flagged off at New Bus Stand by Caritas India South Zonal Manager, Dr. John Arokiaraj and Mr.Soundar Rajan, Inspector of Police, Chengalpattu. The students who were guided by CRDS staff and SHG members covered 2.0 KM arterial road raising 45 different slogans against the ill effects of plastic and the need for environmental protection. They carried 130 placards that explained the promotion of a safe environment.
Fr.Benjamin, Director of CRDS said that the lessons learnt from the 2015 flood impacts have made his organization join hands with Caritas India to promote healthy environment especially for the vulnerable to lead a dignified life. “We have conducted 17 such rallies in the past”, he said.
Chellapandi, Programme Officer of TASOSS said that Regional Forum is also equally interested in this campaign and the replication of this initiative can be seen in the new Land and Water programme of TASOSS.
As the rally was nearing the old bus stand, Durga, a 7th Class student mesmerized the public by her oratorical skills explaining the evolution of plastic, the destruction it brings to human life and nature. “As responsible citizens, we can change the culture shifting to the usage of biodegradable products,” she said. The public was awestruck by the frightening statistics she gave regarding the enormous destruction.
Jeevitha of Class VIII said “The main cause of disasters is the improper disposal of plastic. Hence, it is our responsibility to sensitise the public to use cloth bags and change their use and throw culture. We should educate our parents first”.
The students said in one voice “We want to live in a pollution free environment”. At the end of the rally, the students took the pledge to refrain from unnecessary usage of plastic and to convince their family and friends against plastic usage and create environmental responsibility.
The rally was the result of tireless efforts of CRDS Director Fr.Benjamin Nesamony and Ms.Suganthy Clara, EVS teacher of St.Mary’s School and the entire staff team.
While addressing the congregation of 2000 plus students at the school ground, Sr.Nirmala Joris said “We focus on the holistic development of students. Our school continuously for 3 years got state ranks in the board examinations and our students are now proving that they are equally concerned about social issues”.
Earlier, Dr.John Arokiaraj interacted with the students explaining the cycle of disaster. He told them that only a small percentage of plastic bags littered in the planet end up being recycled and significant percentage discarded into the trash end up polluting natural habitats causing significant environmental harm.
Runoff water collects and carries discarded plastic bags and ultimately washes them into storm sewers. There they often form clumps with other types of debris and ultimately block the flow of water. Clogged storm sewers can also disrupt the water flow throughout local watersheds. Blocked sewer pipes can starve local wetlands, creeks and streams of the water they require, which can lead to massive die-offs and in some cases, total collapse. Plastic bags that make their way into agricultural land, rivers, lakes or oceans never completely biodegrade causing death to living beings.
The rally gave a clear message; not to consider plastic bags as trendy and user-friendly but a single destructive army. So, go back to traditional cloth bags.
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