A children's parliament protects an Indian lake

Children saw a way to stop their lake getting polluted - once they got organised. Jhumeliya Mishal from EFICOR tells the story.

Chilika Lake in Odisha is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150,000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands. The community known as Bhoi belongs to Sc caste - being deprived of their caste and discriminated against by the high caste people their only livelihood support is Chilika Lake. Their main occupation is fishing and prawning.

The children's parliament started in 4 villages of the Bhoi community (Satapada Bhoi sahi, Naubadi Dhoba Sahi, Ichapur Bhoi sahi, Nuagaon Bhoi sahi). There was no parliament concept at that time in those selected village. After the formation of the children's parliament, the children and the ministers were active in discussing about their village issues, children's education issues and the environmental issues. The ministers played an important role in making action plans and working accordingly to access their rights and entitlements.

Childrens Parliament training on environment protection

One of their major issues discussed was Chilika lake being polluted which is the important livelihood source for the entire community. The children took initiative in creating awareness through environmental protection rally program conveying the message to the community to protect the Chilika Lake, saying No to plastics; more plantation; and saving the water and biodiversity. They also participated on environmental week and planted saplings in their village. Once every week they clean their village picking up the papers, wrappers and plastics to keep their surrounding clean.

The medium of transportation from Satapada to Janhikuda Krushnaprasad block is the huge vessel and small boats which carries passengers along with vehicles. Vessel has the capacity to carry 2 big Bus containing 100 people and other vehicle that runs to- and- fro from Satapada to Janhikuda. The travel in vessel is less cost and every day it makes 2 rounds picking and dropping people and vehicles. Children noticed while travelling in the vessel that there were no dust bins and people travel for 1 hour from this end to the other end and during their journey they eat snacks, drink water and soft drinks and throw the plastics wrappers on the lake - that’s how the water was getting polluted.

Pondering on the issue all the 4 Children Parliaments discussed in their parliament and planned to collect 5rs each from their respective parliament to donate a dustbin to the vessel and protect the lack from being polluted. On 15th August, 4 children parliament of Satapada Panchayat handed a dustbin to the Chilika transportation department advising the driver and conductor of the vessel to inform passengers to use dustbin for throwing any wrappers/plastics. The driver of the vessel was amazed by the children's initiative to protect the lake.The Children's Parliament donate the dustbin

After knowing the children contribution towards the environment, the DCPO, CWC chairperson and the Chilika Development Authority appreciated the CP. These officers expressed their happiness by analyzing the improvement of Bhoi community children coming forward as leaders to contribute, taking responsibility for the nature and to think innovatively in building a better future. The DCPO and CWC Chairperson said that “Till now there were none of the department thought of placing dustbins on those travelling vessels, but the children could identify and take steps to address the issue. It was a biggest success for the Parliament and the District.”

Earlier the children didn't know their rights and they were not participating or taking leadership role for their community. After EFICOR intervention through Children Parliament they are aware and take active initiative for making their village a better place to live. They would like to thank EFICOR for making them aware and empower to think and act for themselves. EFICOR lead the Renew Our World national expression in India; they are planning more training and more children's parliaments now this has worked so well. 

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