As we are moving ahead in life, there are lot of challenges we face, be it social, economic or environmental. From a whole gamut of problems one that stands out is enabling our budding generation to avoid the perils of environmental catastrophe. An urgent action needs to be taken in this direction before it is too late. Keeping this in mind, PRAKRITI – SAVE NATURE, an NGO – embarked upon the responsibility of enlightening the young generation in schools of Jorhat district about Environmental friendly approaches in life in the year 2008. School children were taken to villages where they participated in Plantation programmes, Composting & Vermi- composting programmes, Collection of indigenous seed varieties etc. Interactive programmes were arranged between the children & farmers about need of organic farming. A 40 minute class every Thursday was allotted to the NGO by the Cinnamara Jatiya Bidyalaya for the Class 9 students, where the students were taught about environmental friendly agricultural practices in participatory manner. The inclination of these 20 students towards these practices & their voluntary involvement in mobilizing other children & farmers of their locality encouraged PRAKRITI – SAVE NATURE towards creation of “Change Agents” among the new generation & thus, the concept of “Parivartan” took birth to initiate change within ourselves to adapt to the changing environment. The programme envisages learning through community service & scientific investigation. This would develop life – long habits of active citizenship & environmental stewardship.
The approach that the programme will adopt is provide opportunities to students to understand & improve the environment in their communities.
The key features of “PARIVARTAN “are:
(1) Systematic environmental quality assessment by a network of schools supported by NGO’s & validated by government & research institutions.
Students of member schools will be trained on scientific skills for monitoring the environmental quality like soil sample collection & testing, water sample collection & testing with field kits. This empowers them to learn more about the quality of the environment & use their findings to create or demand solutions. Systematic plans for monitoring other environmental attributes such as Herbal treasures, birding, Energy, Food adulteration, Eco consumerism/campaigns, Noise pollution, Bio-diversity, organic farming etc. will be taken up.
(2) The second component of the programme will be to generate awareness among the communities & other section of the society. The key features are:
Projection of assessed data to generate awareness & mobilize community members to initiate environmental improvement actions.
Bringing the data to the notice of local authorities/Pollution Control Board for necessary action.
Students spearheading campaigns of local relevance to enthrust local communities to change their attitudes, Campaigns against polybags, use of chemical pesticides & fertilizers in agriculture, emerging idols made with non-environmental friendly material, bursting of crackers during festivals & marriages using toxic colours during holi, nailing signboards to trees etc. will be taken up.
(3) The third component of “PARIVARTAN” is advocacy with the collective efforts of NGO’s & local government. This phase focuses on –
Involving students & NGO’s to convince civic agencies to take action against the degradation of their area’s environment.
Involving local authorities to bring about changes in policies & filing of Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
Introduce best management practices that will improve the environmental quality.
(4) Environmental assessment, awareness, advocacy culminate in community initiated action for environmental improvement. This phase focuses on:
Involving School groups & Community members to improve their local environmental conditions. Depending on local problems, students will initiate various programmes such as solid waste management including vermi composting, tree plantation, creation of herb corners, energy conservation, rain water harvesting, paper recycling, seed saving, stream cleaning, simple water treatment methods, preparation of homemade pesticide formulations etc.
Involving research & educational organizations in finding solutions to local problems identified by “Parivartan” members.