Published: 12th October 2020
Kochi's St Berchman's College students, teachers team up to clean water bodies
The Botany Department head Joseph Job, the brain behind the initiative, said the sight of a nine-acre pond near the college becoming a dumping ground for waste proved the trigger
For an area to develop, the onus does not always have to be on the local self-government bodies or government departments. Sometimes, the general public too needs to chip in to keep landmarks in pristine condition. The students and teachers of the Botany Department of St Berchmans College, Changanassery, are showing the path.
They have begun an initiative named Navodakam, meaning new water in Sanskrit. Currently, they are into the second phase of the initiative intended to clean up water bodies and to preserve heritage structures around them.
Navodakam began as an exercise to make students feel responsible towards society. The Botany Department head Joseph Job, the brain behind the initiative, said the sight of a nine-acre pond near the college becoming a dumping ground for waste proved the trigger.
"This pond was a reservoir that could come handy during the harsh summer season. Because of the reservoir, the college always had water even when other areas in the region suffered a scarcity," he said.
While the municipality used to clean the pond, they could not do it often enough. "So we thought of pitching in," said Joseph. The alumni of the department bought them a rowboat.
"We decided to devote two-days every week to clean the pond. We have been doing so for the past three years," he said. A team of teachers and students row out and collect the weeds along with the floating debris like plastic bottles. The waste is then disposed off properly.
"Now, the pond looks very pristine and is free of waste. Then we noticed the weed problem at the boat jetty. The teachers of the department chipped in to buy another rowboat, which is now used to collect waste there," Joseph said.
They are also planning to beautify the area around the jetty. Another initiative on the anvil is the restoration and preservation of the five lamps near the Changanassery market. "Changanassery was actually known as the place of five lamps believed to have been installed by the erstwhile kings. So we need to preserve them for posterity," he said.
The students and teachers also plan to set up a garden around the lamps.
"We are doing this all by ourselves. There is no fund or project," said Tom Joseph, assistant professor, Botany Department.