Vehicles stopped plying for seven minutes from 11 to 11.07 am on Sunday as part of ‘A Day to Mother Earth’ initiative Credit: EastMojo image

Gangtok: Sikkim witnessed a complete halt on various vehicular movement from 11 am to 11.07 am as part of the state government’s ‘A Day for Mother Earth’ initiative on Sunday. The unique initiative was supported by the traffic police, taxi drivers’ associations and government departments, besides the general public.

As per reports, the government is planning to make it an annual affair from now on.

The aim of the endeavour was to reduce air pollution caused by vehicular movement as well as to spread awareness and other ill-effects of climate change. “With an aim to work towards contributing to the national target of carbon sequestration [of 3 billion tonnes from forests] by 2030, we have come up with this unique idea. On July 7, on the closing day of ‘Van Mahotsav Week, all vehicles will stop for 7 minutes at 11 am and dedicate the day to mother earth,” forest minister Karma Loday Bhutia had said during a recent press conference.

However, ambulances, police and fire services vehicles were exempted for emergency services.

Meanwhile, chief minister PS Golay planted a sapling of Peepal (Ficus Religiosa) on the premises of Kitchu Dumra, South Sikkim. He shared his concern about the adverse impact of climate change happening all over the world, including the state.

Golay said that immediate action should be undertaken to combat the threats posed by climate change which may result in major natural disasters, droughts and many other irreparable damages. The CM also said that a resilient long-term action plan must be conceptualised to ensure sustainability and to bring about crucial environment transformational change.

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He added that the aim of the distinct programme was to encourage people to plant an ample amount of tress and to increase the average green cover in Sikkim. The CM also said that the general public must not only rely on the forest department for plantation drives and that they should take this up individually as it is a trait of being conscious citizens.

The CM said that he will be planting about 1,000 saplings and directed the Cabinet ministers, chief secretary and panchayats to plant 500, 300 and 100 saplings, respectively, and ensure for their survival. Additionally, he also encouraged the masses to plant at least 10 saplings as this activity will help conserve the environment.

Golay also said that the state government will soon set up recycling projects in which the waste generated by the public of Sikkim will be reduced and that less amount of garbage will be tipped in the respective landfills. For this project to work, he urged the general public to understand the nuances of waste segregation from the source as “efficient segregation will assist the municipal garbage collectors to dump the garbage in a systematic manner”.

Sharing his concern on the water scarcity problem, the CM also said that focus should be laid on rainwater harvesting units in the state.

Chief minister PS Golay and forest minister Karma Loday Bhutia along with forest department officials in South Sikkim on Sunday

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