Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Include module on firecrackers in eco studies: UGC to varsities

Include module on firecrackers in eco studies: UGC to varsities

Body issues circular asking universities to explain ill-effects as part of compulsory subject

MUMBAI: After the Climate Change Convention in Paris, the University Grants Commission (UGC), the body that regulates the working of universities, has asked universities across the country to include a module on the ill-effects of fireworks in the Environment Studies, which is a compulsory subject for all students.
A circular from the UGC said their decision was influenced by the discussions in Paris. “Environmentalists and scientists have affirmed in no uncertain terms that a host of factors have done tremendous damage to the ecology and environment…It is as part of this effort that world leaders came together at COP21 in Paris recently and underscored preservation of the environment as a collective responsibility,” said Jaspal Sandhu, secretary of UGC, via the circular. Dated December 11, the circular further states in this context the youth of the country be made aware of the ill-effects of bursting fire crackers.
“At a time when issues of climate change and global warming have captured international attention, we need to do all it takes to educate students about the severity of toxicity of fireworks so as to discourage their usage,” states the circular. It also mentions the toxic outcome of bursting firecrackers, including the toxic concoction of “carcinogenic and hormonedisrupting substances” that make their way into the environment as well as the effect the hazardous gases have on people suffering from asthma and other respiratory issues. “On festive occasions, the levels of particulate matter in the air increases beyond the permissible limits,” states the circular.
Apart from a module on the ill-effects of fireworks under Environment Studies, UGC has also requested colleges to organise forums, discussions and presentations related to the hazards of fireworks and ways of reducing them as well as depute student/ teacher groups to conduct similar workshops in schools and colleges around their own institute. Institutes as well as universities have also been requested to share with UGC the steps that they undertake on campus, so as to be able to share the same with other institutes across the country.
Following a petition against bursting firecrackers during Diwali, the SC earlier this year had expressed concerns over environmental health hazards and the toxic fallout that fireworks pose.

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