For Yamuna’s sake

Having identified public awareness and support as vital tools that can help clean up the Yamuna, the Delhi Jal Board organised an outreach programme in Dwarka on Sunday. Street plays drawing attention to the state of the river and the role that people play in polluting its waters were staged by various non-government organisations.

Earlier this year the Jal Board initiated a campaign, Aao Jamuna mein jaan dalein abhiyaan, under the Yamuna Action Plan-II. The campaign is aimed at creating awareness about what a common man can do to save the river. And for this the Jal Board is relying on NGOs to carry forward the message through drama and art.

Referring to the programme conducted in Dwarka, where a large number of residents and community leaders pledged their support to clean the Yamuna, Santosh Vaidya of the Jal Board said: “A strong need was felt to identify and engage communities in the process of cleaning up the Yamuna. Organising such drives is one way of giving expression to this public sentiment as it is the public that is the most important stakeholder in the clean Yamuna drive.”

Mahilayen Pragati Ki Ore president Usha Nischal said: “Every system for change must be founded on a bottom-up approach. Keeping this in mind we have tried to engage people in their language and dialect. This has a big impact on receptivity towards the campaign and provides thrust to the campaign.”

Apart from street plays woven round the theme of the dying river, NGOs also distributed educative material explaining in detail how to conserve water and reduce pollution in the river.

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Kite alarm

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has written to Delhi’s Police Commissioner Y. S. Dadwal urging him to ban production and sale of glass-coated manja (kite string) in the city.

The manja used in kite-flying competitions is often gummed and coated with powdered and finely crushed glass which allows it to cut through an opponent’s kite line. According to PETA, this glass-coated manja is deadly for thousands of pigeons, crows and other birds which get entangled. It can be dangerous for humans too.

PETA India’s Ashish Verma said: “Flying kites with manja is definitely no fun for families who lose their loved ones or for birds which get entangled and fatally injured in the deadly glass string. By banning the production and sale of manja, a lot of lives can be saved.”

As part of its campaign against glass-coated manja, PETA has organised protests in several cities, sent letters to the Chief Minister of several states, circulated a petition signed by nearly 25,000 school children and created a captivating ad featuring Bollywood actress Jiah Khan under the tagline “Cut the glass-coated manja, not birds’ wings”.

Manisha Jha

Living labs

Non-government organisation Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) in collaboration with Nehru Planetarium organised “Khagol Mela” at the historic Jantar Mantar in the Capital this past week to coincide with Winter Solstice.

Astronomy enthusiasts, students and tourists gathered at the monument to familiarise themselves with Masonic instruments like the Ram Yantra, Jai Prakash Yantra and Samrat Yantra. The amateur astronomers calibrated the instruments and conducted measurements at the yantras.

Nehru Planetarium Director N. Rathnasree took the visitors round Jantar Mantar and explained the significance of each Masonic instrument. She said the observatories have tremendous potential as teaching laboratories for positional astronomy.

“With all the Jantar Mantar observatories being submitted for a serial nomination in World Heritage Listing, it would be important to have such educational meeting periodically. They should not be looked upon as mere historical monuments of astronomical heritage but also as live laboratories. Not just school or graduate students but even students doing astronomy courses would benefit from using the observatory as a laboratory requirement for their course involving positional astronomy,” said Dr. Rathnasree.

Apart from educating people about astronomy, Dr. Rathnasree and the team from SPACE appealed to the people to preserve this ancient monument.

Madhur Tankha