An annual award ceremony to recognise the country’s “greenest” schools was held on Wednesday at the India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road. The awards are given by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to institutes that have excelled in natural resources management under the Green Schools Programme (GSP) started in 2006.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and the joint secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, BMS Rathore, gave away the awards to schools from across the country. CSE director general Sunita Narain was also at the event.
At least 65% of the schools participating in the programme this year are from rural areas. There has also been an increase in the participation of government schools.
The awards were of two categories — national and state. At the national level, Govt Sr Sec. School, Dentam (Assam) and Govt Sr Sec. School, Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) were declared the best schools in the “changemakers” category, comprising schools that have been part of the GSP for more than a year. In the new schools category, Government High School, Ropar (Punjab), won the top award.
“It is exciting and encouraging to be here and receive the award from the chief minister. We are even more determined now to surpass our own expectations,” said Niraj Sunar, a Class 12 student from Govt Sr Sec. School, Dentam, Sikkim. The school has been able to tap 50% of its rainwater harvesting and waste re-use potential.
At the state level, GD Salwan Public School, Rajinder Nagar, won the best school award in the changemakers category and won the Chief Minister’s Rolling Trophy for the year. Sri Ventateshwar International School, Dwarka, won the top award in the state-level new schools category.
“We have done a lot of damage to our environment already. And now, it is up to youngsters to take up the responsibility of improving things. Looking at the students and their efforts, I am sure that our future is in safe hands,” said Dikshit.
More than 12,000 students from various states competed for the awards this year. A book titled How green is my neighbourhood was also released. The book talks about how to join hands with neighbours to create a healthier environment.
“Simple thoughts lead to great achievements and today, these kids have given us the proof. Our environment can be saved only by taking action at the individual level and not by merely talking about it,” said Narain.
Under the GSP initiative, students are working on projects such as rainwater harvesting, waste management, bio-composting and using eco-friendly transport to commute. They carry out audits on environmental practices within their schools following a set of guidelines issued by the CSE.
“Making the children do their own green auditing is a great way to make them understand their responsibilities. I am glad that the Eco Clubs started by the government have the CSE’s great support. The CSE has empowered schools to be the change that they want to see,” said Rathore.
A music competition held on the occasion was won by Sri Venkateshwar International School, Dwarka. Students from six “veteran” GSP member schools shared the eventful journey as well as the achievements of their institutions with the audience.