Schoolchildren in Uttar Pradesh’s Etawah district have taught a few lessons to the district administration in saving the environment and forced it to bring about changes in the way it functions.
District magistrate Nitin Bansal has ordered all government officers to cycle or walk to office every Friday and state as well as private schools to completely ban the use of thermocol in all forms in art, crafts and science projects.
Bansal’s orders came days after over 1,500 school children passed 10 resolutions for the better environmental health of the district at the ‘Etawah Parliament of Students on Environment’. The DM issued the orders last week, nearly a fortnight after the parliament sent him the recommendations.
Yashashvi Singh, a Class 6 student of Kendriya Vidyalaya in the district and a delegate in the parliament, said she is happy with the DM’s orders and that her school has already made the announcement to ban the use of thermocol.
“We are elated that the DM took our recommendations so seriously,” she said.
Bansal has also ordered that every Sunday should be observed as a sapling plantation and tree care day in the district and forest officers have been asked to promote the day.
“It is better to take slow, sensible preventive measures now than to go in for knee-jerk emergency measures the way Delhi is forced to take,” Prabhat Misra, founder of the Red Tape Movement and assistant director of the National Savings, said.
Misra presided over the function to mark the students’ parliament which is unique and has also started drawing the interest of international environment organisations.
Government employees have said they will follow the cycle or walk to office rule to office and schools in the district have asked teachers as well as students to use environment-friendly material like cardboards, wood, paper mache and cloth for their projects.
“Yes, I will follow the advisory. Every Friday, I will use a bicycle to and fro to work. Only, if call of the duty forces me to travel more than 15 km, then I would use my petrol vehicle,” Rajneesh Pandey, the district’s backward class welfare officer, said.
Pandey, 39, says he just might cycle to work more than one day.
Teachers too have welcomed the idea of banning thermocol and say that it will go a long way in helping the environment.
“Thermocol is a hazard to the environment and it emanates highly toxic fumes when burned. Often, even the garbage collectors do not carry away thermocol because it has no scrap value. So, a ban on it is a good idea,” Avanindra Jadaun, a science teacher at the Kailokhar village school, said.