07/27/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka: thousands of pupils join Pope Francis’ ‘Green crusade"

by Nirmala Carvalho
More than 6,000 boys and girls took part in the ‘Clean and green Ballari’ as a practical response to the Laudato Si’ encyclical. The initiative is a joint effort by local Catholic schools and state officials. For the local bishop, “Teaching ecology must become an integral part of formal education.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Speaking to AsiaNews, Bishop Henry D'Souza said that Catholic schools and the State of Karnataka are jointly promoting a campaign “inspired by Pope Francis’s call to make the world 'our common home”. Its goal is to implement the three Rs of ecological sustainability, namely ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’.

The ‘Clean and green Ballari’ campaign began with a 2,000-tree planting ceremony last Saturday at the St Philomena's PU College. Some 6,000 boys and girls from Catholic schools in the Indian city of Ballari (aka Bellary), as well as state political and religious leaders, took part in the event.

"Large areas of the districts of Ballari, Raichur and Koppal are irrigated by dams on the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers,” the prelate said. However, “We tend to use too much fertiliser and pesticides” in farming.

What is more, “The area is also famous for iron ore mining, especially illegal mining. With the intervention of the Supreme Court, this hyper-exploitation was stopped, but it still has negative effects on people's lives and the environment."

For Mgr D'Souza, " very low wages of day labourers, sometimes less than 200 rupees (less than US$ 3),” are another problem.

“Although skilled workers are paid better, the mechanisation of agriculture and poor rainfall have pushed many farmers towards big cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, and Goa, with serious consequences on the lives of their families and children."

"Women and children,” he added, “can do a lot to protect the environment. In fact [in this area], they have better results than others. Teaching ecology must become an integral part of formal education. 'Green and clean' should be part of everyone’s daily lifestyle."

Specifically, the campaign plans to promote the three Rs –  reduce, reuse and recycle – by reducing reduce waste and trash; conserving water; saving electricity by turning off lights and electronic devices not in use; cutting back on the consumption of junk food; eliminating pollution and noise at major festivals; using all the pages of a notebook; avoiding wasting paper; protecting lakes, ponds and forests; planting new trees every year; saving lives by donating organs.

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