Clean Rivers Education Programme and Clean River Commemoration
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The Clean Rivers Education Programme was started by the government in 1987. The main aim of the programme was to raise awareness of the negative effects of dumping waste into our waterways, and to encourage that all our waterways be kept pollution free. In 1987, the Ministry of Environment, along with other government ministries and statutory boards, concluded a decade-long project which transformed the polluted Singapore River and Kallang River Basin into vibrant rivers. Through the Clean Rivers Commemoration, this massive effort is remembered.
The Clean Rivers Education Programme has its origins in the Singapore River and Kallang River Basin clean-up project. The project to clean up both the rivers took a decade to complete, starting in October 1977 with the cleaning up of Kallang River and smaller rivers in the Kallang Basin. At the opening of the Upper Peirce Reservoir on 27 February 1977, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had remarked how keeping the waterways of Singapore clean need to be a priority. There he set the target of a decade for the Ministry of Environment to clean up both the Singapore River and the Kallang River.
The rivers' pollution had grown as for decades, the river residents had lived in unsewered premises and disposed their farm wastes into the river. These included families living on bum boats, hawkers, squatters, pig farms and duck farms. At least 26,000 families and 2,800 cottage industries had to be relocated during this massive clean-up.
Various agencies besides the Ministry of Environment were brought together for the project. They included the Primary Production Department, Housing Development Board, Jurong Town Corporation, Urban Development Authority, Sewerage Department, Hawkers Department, Drainage Department, Environmental Health and Parks and Recreation Department. It cost the government nearly S$300 million for the clean-up project excluding resettlement compensation. Several engineering measures were used to prevent the entry of further pollution such as covering drains in litter-prone areas with slabs, installing vertical gratings at selected outlet drains leading to main canals and rivers and installing floatbooms across rivers and canals. A system of stiff fines was also imposed on littering offenders in order to continue keeping the rivers and its waterways clean. Today, both rivers have a living ecosystem and serves as a water playground for residents.
The completion of the clean-up project was celebrated by the Ministry of Environment, along with other government ministries and statutory boards, with an event called the Clean Rivers Commemoration, in September 1987. Thereafter, a series of activities, called the Clean Rivers Commemoration '87, were organised by the government for more than six months to educate the public on continuing to keep the rivers clean.
In October 1987, the government launched the Clean Rivers Education Programme in order to educate the public on the massive efforts taken to clean up Singapore's waterways. It aimed to increase awareness on the need for clean waterways for environmental protection and a better quality of life. The programme included video shows entitled 'River Reborn' and 'In the Bag' shown to students. The video shows aim to educate the public, especially school students, that littering and dumping of refuse into drains, canals and rivers will pollute the rivers. It calls them to act responsibly in keeping our waterways clean. The programme was taken over by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) on 1 May 1997 and is currently administered by them.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
Clean rivers: the cleaning up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin. (1987). Singapore: Ministry of Environment.
(Call no.: SING 363.739409595 CLE)
Fining it clean . (1988, March 7). The Straits Times, p. 18.
Once smelly Singapore river is now all clean. (1988, February 15). The New Straits Times, p. 16.
Scully, M. (1988, February 20). Singapore wins success in cleaning rivers. Jakarta Post, p. 6.
S'poreans can be proud of their rivers: Lee. (1987, September 4). The Star, p. 16.
Yeo, K. (1995, May 27). ENV's Tanjong Katong drainage projects : improvement to Geylang River and construction of new pumping stations. The Straits Times, p. 40.
United Nations. (1999-2004). Clean up of the Singapore River and Kallang Basin. Retrieved March 8, 2004, from www.unescap.org/drpad/vc/conference/bg_sg_14_csr.htm
National Environment Agency. (2002). Public Awareness. Retrieved on December 21, 2004, from http://www.nea.gov.sg/cms/ccird/pg_70_75.pdf
Nathan, D. (1995, May 14). When playing in the canals during school hours is OK. The Straits Times, p. 26.
Raft-race events kick off tomorrow . (2001, February 9). The Straits Times, p. 9.
River clean-up logo contest is first in series . (1986, October 25). The Straits Times.
List of Images
Nanyang Technological University. (n.d.). In Singapore. Retrieved January 9, 2004, from www.ntu.edu.sg/studorgn/earthlink/singapore.html
The information in this article is valid as at 2004 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.