Why do disasters occur so frequently? Floods, cyclones, landslides etc. They have been occurring across the globe down the ages. But of late, they have become frequent, unpredictable, tremendous and ferocious due to weird weather changes.

Seventy-one people died, 2,23,687 rendered homeless, 200 were buried alive under rubble in the hilly Central Regions of Sri Lanka. This was due to torrential rain, caused by cyclonic storm Roanu.  Heavy rains killed eleven people and injured 10 in Karimganj district of Assam. Just prior to these, the States of Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh together saw a spate of heat stroke deaths close to 500. Forty million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050 with people from Mumbai and Kolkata having maximum exposure to coastal floods, a UN Report warns.

“The earth, our home is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth due to many reasons – pollution, wastage, a throw-away culture, selfish exploitation of the earth’s resources and lack of concern for the poor for who are most affected and least equipped to cope with ecological crisis,” Holy Father Pope Francis wrote in his Encyclical “Laudato Si”, which expresses a sense of distress at the existing dangerous environmental situation and stresses the urgency of finding a solution, as well as urges the world leaders to take responsible decisions.

During his Independence Day address in 2014, the Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi made it very clear that cleanliness, sanitation, and environmental health are not just routine matters for him.  “People may feel that it is trivial work for a Prime Minister but for me it is a big work.  Cleanliness is a very big work.” Hence, the emphasis on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan which envisages a ‘Clean & Healthy India’ by 2019.

World Environment Day is observed on every 5th of June since 1973, to raise global awareness on the importance of a healthy and green environment. Furthermore, this will help to solve the environmental issues by implementing positive environmental actions as well as to make aware the common public worldwide that, everyone is responsible for saving their environment. This year’s theme is “Join the race to make the world a better place”.

Cochin International Airport in Kerala runs completely on Solar Power from 46150 panels laid across 45 acres. The solar power station is expected to save 3,00,000 tons worth of carbon emission over the next 25 years, i.e., equivalent to planting three million tress or not driving 750 million miles. Just imagine, if all the airports across the country use solar power or alternative energy source.

Understanding that health cannot be achieved in isolation, CHAI started focusing on allied areas like hygiene, sanitation, safe drinking water and environmental protection. A series of sensitization programmes have been conducted since its inception. In 2012, CHAI initiated the Solar Energy Programme as part of her Greening efforts. On the upcoming Environmental Day, we will have the planting of trees in our compound as a symbolic invitational juncture to inspire the Member Institutions and other Church organizations to become energy-efficient and energy-sufficient so as to help them reduce global carbon emission.

As the Director-General, I assure CHAI’s readiness to become part of any State or National programme aimed at safeguarding the environmental health of the country… through it that of the world. I also take this occasion to appreciate the efforts made by our Member Institutions, Sisters who organize several commendable initiatives in their institutions on this regard, government organizations and individuals worldwide: to protect and care the health of Mother Earth. On this propitious occasion of World Environment Day, let us all pledge ourselves to “Join the race to make the world a better place”.

Rev Dr Mathew Abraham, C.Ss.R, MD