Thousands of curious school students, escorted by scores of teachers, thronged the Cuddalore Port Junction on Tuesday to get to see what the ‘Science Express – Biodiversity Special’, an exhibition on wheel, had to offer them.
The students, all in uniforms moved at a snail’s pace in single pile, and in neat rows of twos and threes clogged the foot-over-bridge leading to Platform No. 4 of the railway junction where the special train is stationed. It will stay put there till August 3.
For the students of the Nedungudi government primary school at Karaikkal, it was an outing with an educative experience. The chief educational officers of the region have already sent a circular to the schools under the jurisdiction announcing the arrival of the special train and instructing the teachers to take students there.
In the air-conditioned comfort of 16 coaches, the students and visitors could learn about the rich biodiversity in the 10 bio-geographic zones spanning across the country such as the Trans-Himalayas and Himalayas, the Gangetic plain, the North-East region, the Western Ghats, the deserts and semi-arid zone, the Deccan peninsula, and the coasts and islands.
Just by taking a walk through these coaches one could get a panoramic view of the entire country and how richly it is endowed with natural resources, flora and fauna. However, every coach has a warning signboard put up prominently both at the entry and exit point.
The crisp but disturbing message reads as follows: “By the time you have gone through this exhibition one or two species of plant or animal would have become extinct from the planet.” This manages to convey the grave threat that the plant kingdom and animal kingdom are facing from humans who are plundering the natural resources and making earth a highly polluted planet.
Each zone has unique characteristics in terms of animals and other creatures endemic to the zone. Unfortunately, these species have become either endangered or extinct. Such information would certainly alert the student community to the impending disaster that is waiting to happen, in the form of global warming, climate change and heat waves.
The thematic exhibition drives home the point that only when the students are initiated into the kaleidoscopic composition of nature in all its colour and splendour, they could develop empathy and help make earth a liveable place.
The expo also highlights how 102 national parks, 515 wildlife sanctuaries, 47 conservation reserves and four community reserves have helped in saving and preserving the species from imminent extinction.
Another coach named ‘Kids Zone’ is exclusively dedicated to children where they are taught the intricacies of the daunting environmental problems, through play-by-method and through hands-on experience. For the serious-minded visitors, there is another coach equipped with a laboratory to explore the unfathomable wonders of nature, aptly named as ‘Joy of science lab’.
While the students find the exhibition an exhilarating and enriching experience, the teachers feel that it certainly provides the quintessence of what India is within a short span of time and a brief walk through the aisles of the coaches. The well-lit and tastefully decorated coaches provide the right ambience to imbibe knowledge about the country which one could be rightfully proud of.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forsests has partnered with the Department of Science and Technology and many reputed institutions to put up the show.
It would be open to all from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Further details could be obtained from the manager aboard the train on 09428405407.