The CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns organised an Ecological camp at Thoothukudi Nazareth Diocese from 5th to 7th December 2017. Primarily it was a Green School campaign to train teachers and clergy to impart sustainable values to students and to become eco counsellors. Secondly, it was to study the impact of climate change in Thoothukudy.
Rev.S.E.C.Devasahayam, Bishop of Thoothukudy Nazareth presided over the inaugural function. Rev.Dr.John Samuel, ECC, Bengaluru delivered the keynote address.
The Green School Programme class was based on the syllabus prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment and Mr G Balachandran, an international motivator in six hours presented the Green School idea in an interactive way. Green School is a resource efficient building, one that uses little water, optimizes energy efficiency, minimizes waste generation, catches and recycles water and provides healthier space for its occupants. Through the workshop, he motivated and inspired the participants to implement the Green School programme in their respective area.
Dr.K.Diruviya Raj, Assistant Professor at Suganthi Devadasan Marine Research Institute and Dr.Deepak Samuel, Marine Ecologist highlighted the impact of Climate Change on the Marine life and explained in detail how global warming is affecting the coral reefs and the biodiversity. Dr. Lita Sunder explained the impact of Climate change on fishes. CSI Synod Department Ecological Concerns got an opportunity for the first time to study the impact of climate change on marine life and we also visited the climate affected areas. Coral rehabilitation is an effective adaptive mechanism to cope with the impact of climate change and to restore the eco-system service through resilience. This was evidenced by the comparatively less coral mortality on Thoothukudi coast during the coral bleaching event in 2016, according to experts. Out of the total 110 sq km reef area, about 30 sq km have been degraded due to anthropogenic and natural factors, especially due to climate change. Though coral mining stopped completely in 2005, there was an increase of live coral cover in the degraded areas thereafter. However, climate change impact caused coral bleaching and mortality and led to the loss of habitat and biodiversity including migration of fish.
Dr.Selvin Samuel, an environmentalist and the former Principal of St. John’s College Tirunelveli, presented a paper explaining the basics of climate change and its impacts. Rev.Michael and Rev.Daniel Gnaprakasam took morning devotions relating Bible to climate change.
Thoothukudy also was known as Tuticorin, is a port city, located about 590 kilometres south of Chennai and 190 kilometres northeast of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Major educational establishments in the city include Thoothukudi Medical College, Fisheries College and Research Institute, Marine Training Academy, V.O.C. Arts & Science College, Government Polytechnic College, and Anna University Tuticorin Campus. Tuticorin Port is one of the fastest growing Major Ports in India. Thoothukudi is known as "Pearl City" due to the pearl fishing carried out in the town. The majority of the people of the city are employed in salt pans, sea-borne trading, fishing, and tourism. The weather has a direct impact on the respondent’s health, and if the overall climate becomes warmer, there will be an increase in health problems. Previous experience shows that during hot weather, 48% are affected by infectious disease and 20% respondents reported with affected Malaria disease,16% Dengue and Yellow fever, 9% Diarrhoea Disease, 4% Cholera, 2% Skin cancers,1% Cataracts, and 1% affected by Heat-related mortality. It is further anticipated that there will be an increase in the number of deaths due to greater frequency and severity of heat waves and other extreme weather events. In 2011, India ranked third in salt production worldwide, after China and the US. In the years since Independence, the salt industry has grown substantially, from 1.9 million tonnes in 1947, India produced 22.18 million tonnes of salt in 2011-12. Tamil Nadu accounts for 30% of this, second only to Gujarat. And much of the state’s salt production comes from Thoothukudi. The two main occupational hazards that salt pan workers are prone to are kidney disease and retinal issues.
We visited the campus of Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation (SPIC) Limited, one of the leading fertilizer manufacturing companies in the country located at Thoothukudi in the State of Tamil Nadu and saw the thermal plants from outside. Both of them are directly or indirectly related to fossil fuel. Even though both of them are the vertebra of a carbon-based economy they are emitting Carbon dioxide which is responsible for climate change.
The three days eco camp concluded with an inspiring and thought-provoking concluding message of Bishop SEC Devasahayam. Bishop, Bishopamma and Diocesan officials were present throughout the programme. The Rt.Rev.M Joseph, Chairman of ecological concerns committee took the pain to visit the camp on the first day and delivered the Christmas message. Forty-nine delegates from various diocese attended the programme. The hospitality of TND was highly appreciated by all the participants. Rev. Yesudian Duraiswamy, the newly appointed director of Diocesan eco department, coordinated the different aspects of the camp efficiently.
Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad