You are in a professional college campus, and you wonder how amidst the tight syllabus and the long daily pressing academic schedules, you can even get time to enjoy the left over greenery in your campus, let alone think of participating in a greening initiative. But, facts are stranger than fiction. If communities are willing contributors in caring for the environs, greening is not an effort – it is achieved on the go. What communities can contribute effortlessly to the improvement of the environment can be seen from this story of cleaning up the Tama River that passes through the city of Tokyo.
In the 1960s, Tama river was so badly polluted that the city people blamed those communities living upstream for dumping all the wastes into it. The residents along the upper reaches of the river gathered in groups and discussed the blame that has befallen on them. A retired chemistry professor suggested that each family should dump a small bag of charcoal into the river where the riverine vegetation has dried up and the fish fingerlings have disappeared for a long time.
A fortnight past, the villagers found the vegetation springing up again on the as well as little sparkles of swimming baby fish in the waters. The smell was gone beyond detection. The city dwellers were surprised at this magic and newspapers and radio reported on this miraculous recovery of a dying river. A win-win situation was created and the government took over to complete the greening of Tama, which is now a water sporting nature site for natives and tourists alike.
In a professional college, it is the youth who are filling the campus spots with vibrant energy and making its environment. They can make the campus green by planned planting of vegetation, refraining from careless throwing of wastes, devoting a little time for keeping the class rooms, corridors and the walkways clutter free, and even water the plants in turn. They can also abstain from putting up ugly posters that divert the attention of young students from the academic aura around. There could be healthy competitions between campuses on the shades of green they have attained through devotion to nature. All these do not need much time, money or effort. It is the mindset of the students, ably guided by one or two teachers even amidst the most turbulent times in the campuses that can do wonders in caring for the environment.
Prof. V. K. Damodaran
Chairman, Centre for Environment and Development/President, Nature’s Green Guardian Foundation