MoEF initiative soon to promote environmental awareness through field trips

The Ministry of Environment and Forests will soon come out with a programme to make nature camps a part of the school experience to raise environmental awareness among children, Jayanthi Natarajan, Union Minister of State for Environment, said on Saturday.

Presiding over the launch of the ‘Science Express-Biodiversity Special’ exhibition train at Chennai Central, Ms. Natarajan said the initiative, aimed at students of classes VI to X, would involve field visits to biodiversity-rich spots for over a couple of days.

According to Ms. Natarajan, tragedies like the recent Uttarakhand calamity put to rest beyond any doubt the debate over whether environment is more important than development or whether the environment has to pay the price for the country’s economic growth. “That illusion has been definitively put to a close in the wake of the Uttarakhand tragedy,” she said.

Urging children and the youth to be ‘eco-warriors’, Ms. Natarajan advocated sustainable development that was not only intrinsically inclusive but also promoted an understanding of nature.

The 16-coach air-conditioned exhibition train will be stationed on Platform No. 11 of Chennai Central for three more days.

Since 2007, the train has in four phases of its campaign runs, covered 94,000 km, featured 1,100 exhibition days across 300 locations, entertained and educated 99 lakh visitors and smashed six Limca Book records along the way.

Eight coaches on the train showcase the ecological wealth spread across bio-geographical zones of India such as the Himalayas, the Gangetic Plain and the Western Ghats through a series of interactive exhibits, short films and videos on mounted plasma TV screens and backlit panels.

The train has a ‘Kids zone’ for children to engage in fun-filled activities, games and puzzles in science, mathematics and environment. There is also a coach housing the ‘Joy of science’ lab for young minds to perform various experiments.

One coach is dedicated to climate change and another to the theme ‘Way towards safe, secure and sustainable environment.’

Entry to this exhibition is free and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The train, which would cover 62 locations across the country, has four-day halts scheduled at the Cuddalore Port Junction from July 31, Tiruchi from August 4 and Kudal Nagar from August 8.

The exhibition special would then move to Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha before reaching Coimbatore on August 20.