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Miles to go

London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s current visit to Delhi has lent an impetus to frenzied and ambitious plans to revamp public transport, waste disposal, environment-friendly schemes and several everyday utilities that form the skeletal network of any urban settlement.

Here as part of the “Sister Cities” or “Town Twinning” concept, an ancient practice to facilitate a cultural, developmental, academic and, now, technological exchange between two geographically and ethnically distinct communities, Mr. Livingstone’s visit is a throwback to an era when pairs of post-World War II bomb-ravaged European cities extended a hand of friendship to each other.

The coming week for the London Mayor and his associates will accommodate an endless series of functions, lectures and events where, it is hoped, local organisations will imbibe something from the rigid civic sensibilities and solutions of the most populous Capital in the European Union.

However, seasoned Delhiwallahs are left wincing in frustration each time any authoritarian figure here airs claims to “make Delhi one of the top cities of the world in time for the 2010-Commonwealth Games”. A city with a troublesome transport system, near non-existent public health infrastructure, abominable road manners and a smug in-your-face attitude surely has miles to go before it can hope to be accepted on even the fringes of the developed world.

Kunal Diwan



Oath for heritage

Every year “World Heritage Week” is celebrated from November 19 to 25 to create awareness among the public, particularly children, about the rich cultural heritage of the country. However, from this year the Union Tourism and Culture Ministry through a unique initiative has decided to involve school children in the campaign against vandalisation of monuments.

As part of this initiative, school children across the country will take an oath on November 19 each year. A symbolic beginning has already been made this year with Delhi’s school children taking an oath at the historic Red Fort on Monday.

According to the new plan approved by Union Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni, schools would be requested to administer the oath to their children. If possible, they should take the children to a monument in the vicinity and administer the oath. Otherwise they could do it in the school premises and organise at least one visit to a monument during the World Heritage Week.

The superintending archaeologists of all the circles of the Archaeological Survey of India would be instructed to help the schools in arranging the visits.

In addition to student visits, the outreach programme organised during the World Heritage Week will include painting contests, debates, essay contests, cultural programmes, talks on preservation of monuments and guided tours for school teachers as well.

Manisha Jha



Every drop counts

Frustrated by the rapidly depleting groundwater reserves in the southern parts of the Capital and the sluggish efforts being made to recharge the natural resource, water conservation activist Vinod Kumar Mishra is seeking out school children to help in water management.

Dr. Mishra says that instead of waiting for the Government to do the needful, citizens should take up the challenge of water conservation. He visited 16 government-run schools in Mehrauli, Chhattarpur and adjoining areas this past week impressing upon the children the need to avoid wastage of water.

“To make them understand the relevance of water conservation, we use simple terms and illustrations. For instance, we tell students that brushing your teeth for five minutes at a running tap causes loss of 20 to 30 litres of water, whereas if you use a jug, you use as little as one litre,” says Dr. Mishra, who is part of a non-government organisation, Jal Biradari.

Dr. Mishra, who gave up his job as a teacher in a government college in Bihar to immerse himself in water conservation efforts, recalls: “When I first came to Delhi, I was shocked to see people buying drinking water. In the rural areas, we just leave earthen pots filled with water for passers-by.”

Worried over blatant misuse of groundwater and negligence towards the natural resource, Dr. Mishra warns: “If we do not conserve now, we may not even get water on paying for it.”

Smriti Kak Ramachandran



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