Clean and Green Singapore campaign launched

Sara Grosse Channel NewsAsia 29 Oct 11;

SINGAPORE: A nationwide initiative to increase awareness on environmental issues was launched on Saturday.

The Clean and Green Singapore campaign, co-organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and North West Community Development Council, kicked off with a two-day carnival that encouraged citizens to take care of the environment.

13-year-old Ng Jia Wei said he prefers gardening to playing computer games, and wants to encourage others to share his hobby.

He said: "I've created a Facebook page group and website for my community garden and I've posted some videos, gardening tips."

Jia Wei is the youngest recipient of the Community in Bloom Ambassador award, which recognises individuals who foster the love for gardening in their community. The award recognises his efforts in mentoring children who want to learn about gardening.

While Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who launched the Clean and Green Singapore campaign, said individual efforts can go a long way in keeping the environment green, he also urged for more participation on the community-front.

The NEA launched a community-led "Keep Singapore Clean" initiative that will encourage schools, grassroots and private organisations to take action and keep the environment clean. At the same time, the North West CDC also plans to build the largest green network, comprising 45 community green clubs and 2,000 volunteers to reach out to 90,000 households by 2014.

Mr Teo said: "This can only be achieved through continuous effort on the part of everyone of us. The government will continue to invest in environmental systems, structures, but it's only with the public taking active ownership that we can continue to keep Singapore clean and green."

Besides recycling and anti-littering messages, the carnival also highlighted dengue-prevention to the public.

Since the start of the year, there have been 4651 cases of dengue.

Even though the number of dengue cases are tapering down this year, the government still wants the public to take precautionary measures. The NEA is launching a new exercise called "Educational Inspections", which will see NEA officers working with home owners to identify what are some of the high-risk activities in the home.

Minister of Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, said: "If at these educational inspections, even if any larvae is found, an amnesty will be given. So we will not fine the house owners because the important point here is this is an educational exercise, to work with you. We don't want you to be worried about being fined just because you invited an NEA officer to come in and take a look and to give you advice."

The educational inspections will target homes in non-hot spot areas. If larvae is found in homes in hot-spot areas, fines will still be issued.