Schools at the forefront of waterbody rejuvenation

‘One School One Pond’ initiative to support institutions in adopting a waterbody in their locality

A school-driven campaign to protect and nourish an estimated 600 waterbodies in Puducherry was launched under the auspices of a collective at the SRS Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School on Tuesday.

The ‘One School One Pond’ initiative, which was rolled out on World Wetlands Day, as part of the Water Festival ’21, would support schools in adopting a waterbody in their locality.

The OSOP launch marked the creation of a pond on a wasteland adjoining the SRS School in Saram.

What was once a snake-infested dump and a den of anti-social elements is now a community rainwater harvesting system.

In a message, Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi, who was unable to attend the launch, said the creation of a pond was in line with the mandate of the Puducherry Water Policy-2016.

She noted that A. Anbarasu, former Education Secretary, and the NGO PondyCan had got together to build a community rainwater harvesting structure on the low-lying land adjacent to the school.

The ‘One School One Pond’ initiative will connect students with the environment to provide holistic learning, with the pond serving as an eco education centre. Students will nurture the waterbody and, apart from planting saplings, the premises will be elevated to a biodiversity spot with a butterfly park, bees and fish species, Ms. Bedi said.

The campaign is led by the “All For Water for All” project, Water-Rich Puducherry movements and the Alliance for Good Governance. The effort is supported by the Puducherry Heritage Festival 2021, Alliance Francaise, French Institute of Pondicherry, National Centre for Coastal Research under the Ministry of Earth Sciences and 10 government departments, including School Education, PWD, LAD and Forests.

Prabir K. Banerjee, of All for Water for All project, said the OSOP campaign would seek the rejuvenation of an estimated 600 ponds. “We hope to rope in 100 schools this year and the remaining institutions in the following year,” he said.

Puducherry had earlier launched a Neerum Oorum (water and village) scheme to adopt waterbodies, renovate them and protect them. These served as groundwater recharge systems, sources for drinking water and also the backbone for agriculture.

A. John Kumar, MLA, launched the ‘Neer Nilai’ mobile app that would help students to geo-tag ponds and map all relevant water characteristics in the presence of S.K. Dash, scientist, NCCR, Satish Nallam, president of Alliance Francaise, N. Tamilselvan, Deputy Collector, and T.P. Raghunath, of All for Water for All.

The Kamaraj Nagar legislator promised to ensure that the pond would be protected from miscreants and encroachments.

P.T. Rudra Goud, Director of School Education, stressed on the importance of raising consciousness about the life-sustaining virtues of water and the importance of conservation among schoolchildren, especially in a place like Puducherry which did not have river systems and was dependent on groundwater reserves for its drinking water needs.

C.H. Balamohanan, of All for Water for All, administered a water conservation pledge to the school students. Earlier, volunteers planted saplings around the waterbody.

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