In the run-up to World Environment Day celebrations on June 5, the Union Environment Ministry has asked schools to stop the use of plastics in their premises and constituted 19 teams to undertake cleaning of 24 beaches and an equal number of polluted riverfronts and lakes across the country.
Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan has written to the principals of schools across the country, requesting them to declare their schools free from plastic pollution, based on which the institutions will be certified as 'Green School'.
India is the global host of this year's World Environment Day celebrations, the largest UN-led celebration on environment, and the theme for this edition is 'Beat Plastic Pollution'.
"The ministry will certify schools that become plastic free and publicise the harmful effects of plastics in a mission mode by undertaking various activities," an official statement said.
The schools have been asked not to use plastic items such as plastic water bottles, plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic water jugs, plastic folders, trays or pendants.
Among activities include adopting a water body, pond, wetland, beaches or eco-sensitive area, etc. in or around schools and make them plastic free and undertaking cleanliness drives on prescribed holidays between April and May, the statement said.
The programme will be monitored by senior officers of the ministry, regional offices of the ministry and the district administration. The minister will issue certificates to all participating schools and colleges as an appreciation of their efforts.
The government has also formed 19 teams which will undertake cleaning of 24 beaches and an equal number of polluted riverfronts and lakes across India.
The Environment Ministry said that cleaning up of around 24 beaches in nine coastal states and riverfronts in 24 identified polluted stretches in 19 states will be undertaken by the teams. A special cleanliness drive will be carried out at the Yamuna riverfront in Delhi while certain lakes and water bodies have also been identified for cleaning.
The 19 teams will include senior officers of the ministry, state nodal agencies in-charge of eco-clubs of schools, State Pollution Control Boards, district administration, college of fisheries located along the coastal stretches and other educational and research institutes, it said.
The teams will involve school and college students, and local communities in the cleaning exercise, while the ministry will engage eco-club in schools which are being provided assistance under the National Green Corps programme.
"An amount of Rs 10 lakh has been earmarked for each stretch of beach, riverfront and lake. Cleaning up around important archaeological sites will also be taken up. The clean-up activities have started from May 15 and will conclude on June 5. During this period, various cultural programmes, quiz competition, debate, awareness rallies will also be organised," the Environment Ministry said in a statement.
For cleaning the water bodies, the ministry has identified the stretches in consultation with State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) and institutional heads from Colleges of Fisheries, which are near the water bodies in each state.
The drive will also involve members from NGOs, National Cadet Corps (NCC), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Coast Guard and citizens.
Cleaning equipment such as brooms, baskets, gloves for children and dustbins will be provided, as well as arrangements for transportation of waste will also be made. The waste collected from the beaches and riverfronts will be safely disposed off at identified sites, in coordination with local municipal authorities, the statement said.
To spread awareness on proper utilisation of plastic, the ministry will organise a mini-marathon at Vinay Marg on June 3 which will be attended by students from Delhi-NCR.
Around 10,000-15,000 people are expected to participate in the mini-marathon.
For World Environment Day, the ministry has drawn up several programmes and activities scheduled to begin from May. Some of these include activities at Vigyan Bhawan here and various states and exhibitions on Rajpath lawns in the national capital.
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