Chennai: Students should speak and work for environment conservation and take steps to fight plastic pollution as reports say there could be more microplastics than fish in the ocean by 2050, said Supriya Sahu, additional chief secretary, environment, climate change and forests, on Friday.Speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of the Tamil Nadu edition of ‘Speak for India’, the oratory competition organised by Federal Bank and The Times of India at M O P Vaishnav College for Women, Sahu said the state government has completed many initiatives for wildlife conservation in the past 18 months, and that young people are needed to take the work forward.
“After several decades, we have declared two new bird sanctuaries, a new elephant reserve. We are focusing on a small mammal which no one speaks about slender loris and have a project for the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. We have notified a reserve for sea mammal dugong and have brought 14 wetlands under Ramsar sites. This is only the beginning. But these are areas where young people, especially young women, are needed. This sector needs the loudest voice.”Urging to raise awareness in the community, she told students, “Speak for complete elimination of plastic. You have turtles, marine species dying because of plastic. Take up a beach, take up one area and spread awareness and take action for conservation. That’s when you have changed something around you. It’s not necessary to be a social media star, politician or government officer. The world needs youngsters.”Stating that the climate change initiative cannot be successful without women, Sahu said, “The state government has set up a climate change mission, apart from chief minister's Green fellowship, where we select 40 youngsters to work with district collectors to bring about change on the ground. It will be a pleasure to see some of you take part in it.”Inspiring students to debate, she said “When it comes to Speak for India, I want you to speak for women, who run our world but nobody speaks for them. Speak for those who don't have a voice, for elephants, tigers, small animals.”M V S Murthy, chief marketing officer, Federal Bank, said “Speak for India shows how India is thinking this year.” Actor Lakshmi Ramakrishnan; Eqbal Manoj, senior vice president of Federal Bank; and Ajay Iyer, senior vice-president The Times of India were also present.Registrations are open and all college students from the state can participate in the competition in English or Tamil. The winner gets a prize of 2.5 lakh and the runner-up gets 1.5 lakh. Each of the six finalists gets 35,000. Register online at www.speakforindia.in