08 August 2022 14:57:09 IST

Chennai school principals pique students’ interest in climate change

School students perform a skit on saving tress and the impact of global warming

Maharishi International Residential School, Sriperumbudur, Chennai, and TI Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Ambattur, Chennai were recognised for their green campus and awarded with ‘Platinum’ grade at the Principal’s Conclave, organised by The Climate Project Foundation (TCPF) – India & South Asia, at IIT Madras Research Park, on August 6, 2022. The Foundation is an independent branch of The Climate Reality Project (International) founded by Former US Vice-President Al Gore.

The conclave brought together head honchos, principals, and deans of various schools and colleges, who are a part of TCPF’s flagship initiative ‘Green Campus Programme.’ The Foundation has tied up with 55 private schools in Tamil Nadu, of which, 15 schools are in Chennai alone, to include sustainability education in the course curriculum and imbibe practices that reduce the carbon footprint.

The conclave brought together head honchos and principals of various schools as part of the foundation’s flagship initiative ‘Green Campus Programme.’

AMM Matriculation School, Point Calimere International School, TVS Academy, received the ‘Gold’ grade, and Vels Vidyaashram, Agurchand Manmull Jain School received the ‘Silver’ grade for their efforts towards turning campuses green.

Aditya Pundir, Director, TCPF – India and South Asia, said, “Chennai is in the eye of the storm. Being a coastal city puts it in the high-risk zone due to rising sea levels. We are moving into an era of climate emergency globally. With our Green Campus Programme, we are trying to build resilience in the community, transform campuses, and train youth across India and South Asia.”

Going forward, the Foundation intends to offer modules in regional languages such as Marathi and Tamil so as to reach more schools in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and villages. Rekha Lalla, Programme Manager, Green Campus Programme, TCPF added, “Principals Conclave intends to sensitise the heads of educational institutions about climate change. Imagine all of Chennai’s schools turn into green campuses, as a by-product, the city turns green. A student who passes out from a green school will continue to make decisions in favour of the environment through all stages of life. That’s the aim.”

“Great cities are built around people. The government responds to the vision of the people. We cannot build cities for cars and expect people to walk or cycle around to reduce their carbon footprint. Systems need to be put in place and infrastructure such as unhindered walkways and cycle tracks with greenery need to come up more and more to make it convenient for people to choose a sustainable lifestyle. This way, even if an environmentally-conscious person wishes to walk or cycle, one can do so without suffering,” said chief guest of the event, Raj Cherubal, CEO, Chennai Smart City Ltd (CSCL).

Speaking of projects that were undertaken as part of the Smart City Project, he said, close to 210 water bodies have been restored in the city, and many more are underway. The Villivakkam tank, which was under restoration and beautification, is almost complete. A number of stormwater drains, in preparation for the rains, are being set up. The ‘pedestrianisation’ of Nungambakkam's Khader Nawaz Khan (KNK) Road and North Chennai’s MC Road, as part of World Bank’s Chennai City Partnership, is also kickstarting soon.

Aditya Pundir, Director, TCPF – India and South Asia, Raj Cherubal, CEO, Chennai Smart City Ltd, and Rekha Lalla, Programme Manager, Green Campus Programme, TCPF (from left to right) | Photo Credit: Pushpa Visuals

“Quite a bit is happening in the city for Singara Chennai 2.0 as well. The renovation of Victoria Hall, next to the Ripon Building, is well underway, and someone has come forward to maintain the Buckingham Canal Beautification Project, completed by the Greater Chennai Corporation, recently,” he added.

The guest of honour for the event, Deepak Srivastava, APCCF (Wetlands) and Member Secretary, Tamil Nadu State Wetland Authority, said, "When the Central government releases 75 Ramsar sites to celebrate the 75th year of Independence, we are sincerely hoping Tamil Nadu will be the topper in the country."

Six wetlands in Tamil Nadu recently received Ramsar recognition. "Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission is a huge success. Wetlands are the lifeline of society. Restoring wetlands will take care of all water-related problems in the city. We hope to restore 100 wetlands in the next five years. Pallikarnai marsh, which is the pride of Tamil Nadu, needs to be restored. It is one of the foremost goals of the Wetlands Mission to restore Pallikarnai for the people of Chennai to prevent floods. We have to gradually clear the encroachments in the next year, and clear inflows and outflows, so that the surplus water moves to Buckingham canal, and joins the Bay of Bengal, preventing floods," he added.