Elite Delhi schools fail ‘green test’

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Going green: Children of DAV Public School (Thermal Colony) at Panipat in Haryana celebrate the Green School Award for 2009 they received from Sharmila Tagore in Delhi on Saturday.
Going green: Children of DAV Public School (Thermal Colony) at Panipat in Haryana celebrate the Green School Award for 2009 they received from Sharmila Tagore in Delhi on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Centre for Science and Environment’s annual Green Schools awards were presented by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Sharmila Tagore here on Saturday.

The awards are given based on an environmental audit of the schools which excel in natural resource management.

Under this programme, schools across the country carry out rigorous self-audit on environmental practices within their own premises following a set of guidelines issued by CSE.

Among this year’s winners are DAV Public School (Thermal Colony) of Panipat (Haryana); Anubhuti School from Jalgaon (Maharashtra); and St. George’s School at Alaknanda in New Delhi.

“About 5,000 schools from all over India participated in the programme this year. The 20 ‘greenest’ of them were awarded on Saturday. The award presentation ceremony was held in collaboration with the State Government. Ten schools from Delhi had been shortlisted for the honour,” said Sumita Dasgupta, coordinator of the programme.

The awards had been divided into two main categories – national and State. The 20 national awards were further divided into two segments of 10 awards each – the new schools (those which have done the audit for the first time and have excelled) and change-makers (those which have already done the audit once before and continue to excel).

Of the 20 national toppers this year, nine belong to the semi-urban, mid-rung category.

These include institutions including a government secondary school in Reshi, Sikkim; a government girls’ school from Dakha in Ludhiana, Punjab; and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas from Prakasam and Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh. Six of the national-level winners are from Delhi.

“What is interesting is that in Delhi some of the ‘elite’ schools do join our programme with great fanfare but fail to carry it through. In 2006, for instance, 60 per cent of the Capital’s so-called top-bracket schools participated in the programme but none of them could reach the top ranks. Their resource consumption rate was disproportionately high compared to their conservation initiatives. It’s the same story this year also,” said Ms. Dasgupta.

‘Token programmes’

“Most of these schools resort to token programmes and gestures like eco-clubs, eco-tours, vermin-composting, etc, without generating any real long-term impacts,” said Ashish Shah, deputy coordinator for the Green School Programme.

Compared to this, the mid-rung schools have participated in large numbers every year and swept the awards.

Almost 60 to 70 per cent of them repeat the audit every year, improving on their performance each time.

Some, like Salwan Public School in Gurgaon, have registered impressive changes in mobility practices – discarding personal transport (cars) for commuting in favour of walking and cycling.

“These schools, because of their commitment and persistence, are the ones that are really making the difference,” noted Ms. Dasgupta.




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