(Aug. 03, 2005)


Eco Friends held a Workshop on "Environment, pollution, sanitation and health" on Aug 3, 2005 for the teachers of the underprivileged schools in Kanpur run by Labor Department under "Indo-US Child Labor Project".

About Eco Friends

Eco Friends, a Kanpur based NGO, has been working in a sustained way over the last more than ten years on critical issues of environmental degradation. Eco Friends has been involved in generating mass awareness and deepening of national and international public debate on pollution-related issues, mobilizing the local communities in sustained high-pitched campaigns, focused action such as clean Ganga campaigns, legal activism through public interest litigation and persistent advocacy with media, opinion makers and other stakeholders. Eco Friends performs all such acts that may assist in or be conducive to fostering environmental education, protection and security.

Eco Friends has been working with diverse groups of youth and children on various environment and pollution related issues. It has worked extensively with the educational institutions of Kanpur and adjoining towns on pollution related health hazards.

Objective of the workshop

Eco Friends intends to seek an active involvement of underprivileged children so that the environmental, health and sanitary conditions of the pollution-affected areas of Kanpur could be improved. We aim at educating, sensitizing and organizing poor children about pollution related health hazards. We also plan to educate and aware children on the importance of personal health and hygiene to bring about behavioral changes in them. The idea is to educate and aware the children about their right to a clean environment, and a healthy and dignified life. We also plan to inculcate in them a sense of duty towards safeguarding their immediate environment.

The draft National Environment Policy 2004 emphasises the need for environmental education and participation of various stakeholders in safeguarding the environment.

"Urban environmental degradation, through lack of (or inappropriate) waste treatment and sanitation, industry and transport related pollution, adversely impacts air, water, and soil quality, and differentially impacts the health of the urban poor. This, in turn, affects their capability to seek and retain employment, attend school, and enhances gender inequalities, all of which perpetuate poverty."

"Awareness relates to the general public, as well as specific sections, e.g. the youth, urban dwellers, industrial and construction workers, municipal and other public employees, etc. Awareness involves not only internalization of environmentally responsible behaviour, but also enhanced understanding of the impacts of irresponsible actions, including to public health, living conditions, and livelihood prospects."

"Environmental education is the principal means of enhancing such awareness, both among the public at large, and among focused groups. Such education may be formal, or informal, or a combination of both. It may rely on educational institutions at different levels; the print, electronic, or live media; and various other formal and informal settings."

"The National Environment Policy (NEP, 2004) is a response to our national commitment to a clean environment, mandated in the Constitution in Articles 48 A and 51 A (g), strengthened by judicial interpretation of Article 21. It is recognized that maintaining a healthy environment is not the state's responsibility alone, but also that of every citizen."

"It is increasingly evident that poor environmental quality has adversely affected human health. Environmental factors are estimated as being responsible in some cases for nearly 20 percent of the burden of disease in India and a number of environment-health factors are closely linked with dimensions of poverty (e.g. malnutrition, lack of access to clean energy and water). It has been established that interventions targeted at environmental management - e.g. reducing indoor air pollution, protecting sources of safe drinking water, sanitation measures, improved public health governance - offer tremendous opportunities in reducing the incidence of a number of critical health problems. It is also evident that these environmental protection measures would be difficult to accomplish without extensive awareness raising and education."  

About the workshop

The workshop was attended by 52 teachers from different informal schools scattered all over the town, especially leather belt of Jajmau area, raw hide centres mostly in Muslim dominated areas and other industrial estates of Kanpur. These schools are being run under Indo-US Child Labour Project by Labour department.

The workshop was also attended by the representatives from various government departments and environmental experts. The workshop was inaugurated by Additional Labour Commissioner Mr Chandramani Lal Maurya. The speakers were the Deputy Labour Commissioner Mr UP Singh, UP Pollution Control Board RO Mr SR Sachan, Dr KK Shukla Senior Scientist Water Works, Chief Health Officer Dr Madan Mohan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr JP Mehrotra, Solid waste management expert Capt SC Tripathi, Health expert Dr Vidyut Katgade and Agronomist Dr AN Tiwari. DM Kanpur Nagar / Chairman Child Labour Eradication Committee Mr Deepak Kumar was the Chief Guest.

The participants brainstormed and interacted actively amongst themselves and with the resource persons. Eco Friends Executive Secretary Rakesh K Jaiswal informed the participants about Eco Friends "Clean Kanpur-Clean Ganga-lean India" campaign and appealed to them to actively participate in the campaign by disseminating the information and knowledge gained through the workshop and motivate and mobilize their students and families to get involved in cleaning their immediate surroundings.

The workshop came to an end with distribution of certificates by the DM and a vote of thanks by Mr Rakesh K Jaiswal.

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