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  • Earth Day: India Echoes "One Earth One Spirit"

    Children as the vital link between humanity and environment was emphasized forcefully when government, corporates and non-government organizations rallied behind Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to pledge their commitment and responsibility towards Mother Earth, here today.

    Commemorating Earth Day, Mr. Vajpayee said it was our duty to preserve our Planet. "We all address the earth as our mother. But none of us pay her due respects," he told a group of visiting school children at his residence. Quoting a Sanskrit verse, he advised the children to recognize and respect nature. Pointing to the water crisis, he observed that there is no harmony between man and nature. He also expressed concern over conflicts in urban areas over basic necessity like water.

    As the earth was constituted of water, air and land, it was our duty to keep these elements to keep it pure, he told the excited, but attentive children.

    The Earth Day celebrations began in Delhi with an impressive rally by about 1200 school children from various public and government schools in the city jointly organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Flagging off the rally at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. T R Baalu, said the world looked at children as the only hope to bring about a paradigm shift in the way we looked at Earth and to take the message across to their elder and younger generations.

    Speaking at the occasion, TERI's director general Dr. R K Pachauri said we have been witnessing a total degradation of our environment through river pollution, forest depletion, and land degradation. "It is for you children to tell us what went wrong and how to set it right," he said.

    The school children responded by pledging their commitment to save the planet. The gathering adopted "One Earth One Spirit" as the slogan for Earth Day. To express their concern, the school children held an impressive rally holding aloft slogans and messages to conserve nature. Students of Sanskriti School and MCD School M-Block Sewa Nagar presented thought-provoking skits on environment.

    To make more lasting impression about the issues related to Earth, TERI in association with Britannia Industries released "H to O: Figuring the Flow", a book aimed at school children. Releasing the book special secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Forests, V K Duggal said his department was very sensitive to the biospheric issues and was taking several steps to address them. Britannia Industries representative Satish Mani said his company was committed to the cause of nature and would support all such endeavors in the future.

    Sunil Gupta, vice president (public affairs), Coca-Cola said his company strongly believed in corporate social responsibility. He said the company had initiated several joint venture endeavors with NGOs in rural India to address issues like drinking water crisis.

    Nalini Jaiseelan, Environment Secretary, Government of Delhi said the state had met with success in its effort to popularize environmental awareness in the form of Eco Clubs. She attributed the success to campaigns like "Anti-fire crackers", "Holi Khelo Naturally" and "Cleaning the Yamuna". She said the sewage treatment in Delhi would improve significantly with the commissioning of three captive biomass power plants attached with the sewage treatment plants in Shahadara, Najafgarh and Keshavpur.

    Prizes were given away to winners of the painting and quiz competitions held for the school children at India Habitat Center, by Special Secretary, Environment and Forests, Mr. V K Duggal.

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