THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department has launched a programme to steer 3.5 crore citizens in Kerala to become the stewards of the environment. The motto ‘35 Million Citizens. One Dream. My Kerala forever’ is inspired by the United Nations World Environment Day theme for 2015-’Seven billion dreams. One Planet. Consume with care.’
As part of its ambitious programme, volunteers will be designated as ‘river keepers’; school students will be issued green cards to record their carbon footprints; citizens living in high-rises will be encouraged to develop green gardens in their apartment spaces.
Inaugurating the function, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that while issues related to development are of utmost importance, today’s actions should not overlook tomorrow’s resources. Otherwise, it would be a great injustice done on the future generations. He said that, in recent times, citizens have shown greater interest in environmental conservation. Poet-activist Sugathakumari, the chief guest, exhorted the ministers to protect the existing farmlands. She asked them to ensure that the unused farmlands were cultivated, and not turned into concrete forests. Minister for Health V S Sivakumar declared actor Mammootty as the brand ambassador of the ‘Eco Steward Programme’. The minister said that such programmes, which encouraged citizens to adapt to sustainable lifestyles, were the need of the hour.
Mammootty said that he was not of the opinion that trees which posed a threat to the public should be spared. “However, at least two trees should be planted for every tree cut and these should be taken care of until they grow at least to one-fourth of their full size,” he added. Natural disasters and soaring incidence of communicable diseases were brought upon by the people themselves, he said.
Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, presiding over the function, said that while there are eco clubs in schools, ‘eco guards’ will be introduced shortly. The new generation will be made to play an active role in the campaign.
A suggestion has been put forward to include environment awareness lessons in school syllabus. There is a plan to plant medicinal plants on encroached public spaces, he said. Mayor K Chandrika, PCCF B S Corrie and DPI Johns V John spoke.