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State scheme to create awareness among children goes for a toss

Four years after National Green Core, centrally funded scheme - to set up eco clubs in schools took off, the government has woken up to reality, reports Ketaki Ghoge.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 02:31 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge

Next time you wish school-going students were more conscious of the environment, blame the state government for its poor administration machinery.

Four years after National Green Core - centrally funded scheme - to set up eco clubs in schools took off, the government has woken up to reality.

Here, the green initiative with annual funding of Rs 2 crore spanning across 2,400 schools never really took off.

The scheme envisioned setting of eco-clubs - nature trails, environment projects, seminars - for youngsters hoping to mould ``young minds'' over environment issues.

On paper, the central funds have been utilised scrupulously. In practice the environment department's senior officials are clueless as to how and where the funds were disbursed. Not more than 50 schools are in the know of these schemes or are making use of this `green initiative', said environment department officials.
That's not all.

Despite relieving orders from Principal Secretary of Environment, Sharwari Gokhale, the incumbent nodal officer in-charge of the scheme, Dr H Rehman, went ahead to disburse this year's funds.

The environment department has now dashed off a show cause notice to Rehman and plans to take action against him.

``I was just amazed at the alcracity with which the funds were disbursed after we sent the notice on October 11. It is a serious issue and we will examine the records of how funds have been spent and then seek action from the parent department (education) or pass on the matter to the Anti-Corruption Bureau,'' admitted Gokhale.

Rehman disbursed the funds on November 8.

Rehman told HT that there was nothing fishy in the matter. `` This is an internal matter. I am sending a reply to the department. I have not misused the funds, they have been disbursed through bank demand drafts.''

In Mumbai many of the beneficiary schools of this scheme haven't vaguely heard of the scheme. ``I have not heard of such a scheme. We take individual efforts to instill environment awareness among our students,'' said father Francis Swamy, principal of Holy Family School in Andheri.

The good news?The Eco-clubs are being revived this time under the charge of Social Forestry department. On Friday, school students from selected schools across Maharashtra will participate in the Republic Day parade, showcasing various environment causes from plastic bag to the Chipko movement.

First Published: Jan 26, 2007 02:31 IST