Month: February 2005

Value in Waste

Value in Waste

Thane city generates 800 tons of waste everyday, of which about 150 tons is non-biodegradable. A non-biodegradable substance is unable to break down, and retains its form for an extended period of time. For example, when buried, some kinds of plastic can last without decomposition for 700 years. According to Robert Edwards, Toxics Campaigner in India for Greenpeace International, "Plastics are choking the life out of India. Over 50 per cent of all plastic produced in India is used for packaging. Most of this is discarded once used, and in a country where traditionally waste was largely unknown, this has caused a massive environmental problem". Although most non-biodegradable substances can be recycled, low levels of consumer awareness make it difficult to put this in practise.

A new programme unleashed by city NGOs aims to create better waste management in the city. Nicknamed "Waste is wealth", student-welfare group Jidnyasa and eco-NGO Vrukshavalli are collaborating with schools to improve the waste management competence of Thane’s residents. To start of, 12 private schools in and around Vartak Nagar and Wagle Estate have been engaged in the project. Large drums donated by the Rotary Club of North End, have been provided to the schools and the students have being asked to bring in non-biodegradable waste from their homes and neighbourhood and discard the same in these drums. Next, teachers of these schools will be trained to coordinate with rag pickers (known as human scavengers) who pick up plastic bottles, carry bags, pens, and all such waste material. The schools will buy this waste from the rag pickers and will then sell the it to scrap dealers, or in some cases, directly to recycling factories. In this way, not only will they reduce the burden of separation on TMC, but will also create value in doing so. In the process, students will learn that what they think of as waste and of no value, in fact does have value.

The programme, which began in the first week of February, will be soon extended to TMC schools and then larger schools around the city. "If all schools participate in the programme, then it might be possible to separate as much as 100 tons of non-biodegradable waste at the source itself," says Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Jidnyasa. Vasant Bagad, principal of Savitridevi Chirani Vidayala and Sandhya Dharde, a teacher from the same school, and Jayant Joshi from Jidnyasa’s Science Wing are the main coordinators of the project.

TMC’s campaign last year urging residents to separate the waste at source produced a lukewarm response. Therefore even today the most of the waste collected contains both degradable and non-degradable stuff, making it very difficult for TMC to dispose of the collection in the right manner. This project is targeting students, who are easier to convert and make good evangelists. Come summer vacations, and Jidnyasa plans to organised workshops for students to educate them in managing waste in a manner that is not harmful to the environment.    

The Lucknow incident a few years ago, when hundreds of cows died as a result of suffocation due to plastic bags, woke up authorities from a slumber, to take note of the hazard that improper disposal of plastics is creating. Before the problem assumes unmanageable proportions, let’s all consciously become better waste managers. Because, if we don’t, some day it will be our turn to be suffocated.

An Encouraging Act

An Encouraging Act

Doing well in life is part hard work, part talent and part opportunity. Ask winners of the third one-act play competition organised by Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC). The contestants of the competition would agree that being at the right place at the right time made all the difference.

Titled "Thane Mahapour Karandak Ekankika Spardha", (Thane Mayor’s Trophy for one-act play), the competition saw participation by 40 teams from Thane and neighbouring suburbs. The preliminary round was held on January 31 and February 01, from which 16 teams qualified for the final round, which was held on 14 and 15 February at the Gadkari Rangayatan. Each act last for approximately 45 minutes and the performances of the teams, which comprised of budding actors, impressed the audience and the judges alike.

For those who are not familiar with what a one-act play is, it is the theatre equivalent of a short story or film – the scope of its plot and theme is limited. A typical one-act script follows a small cast of characters dealing with a specific set of circumstances through a brief period of time. It has all the conventional elements of theme, plot, character, and dialogue. It tells a story, albeit a short one, has a definite beginning, middle, and end, and shows significant change or growth in the main character. An audience invests less of their time viewing a one-act play, so scripts can be more adventurous in subject and far more flexible in form.

The judges for the final round were Charusheela Sable Vachani, Film and TV personality and wife of Late Ajit Vachani, screen and threatre writer Ashok Patawde and Theatre Director Ravinder Divekar. TV Actress Smriti Irani and Vinayak Raut, Shiv Sena’s Sampark Pramukh for Thane city, were the chief guests at the prize distribution ceremony, which was held on the evening of February 15 at Rangayatan. Other dignitaries present at the event included Prakash Paranjpe, Sanjay Kelkar and Prabhakar Sawant.  

The first prize, which comprised of Rs 10,000 and the Mayor’s Trophy went to the play titled "The Model" organised by Kala Abhiyan from Thane. Hemangi Kavi, Nilesh Bhare and Janardhan Jadhav, won the best actress, actor and writer awards respectively for the act. The second prize of Rs 7501 went to the act titled "Aamhi Ekankika Shodhta Hai" by a theatre group in Mumbai called Sheov. "Kalki" by Savendana Parivar in Mumbai won the third prize worth Rs 5001.

Smriti Irani, in her address during the prize distribution ceremony, said that she was impressed by the quality of talent that we had in our country. She applauded the efforts of TMC is providing a platform to the promising stage artists via such competitions and also appreciated the enthusiasm of the people of Thane for turning up in such large numbers. She advised the artists to remain dedicated to their art as that was the key to success. Irani wasn’t the only one impressed. Prakash Paranjpe said that TMC’s primary role might be of providing civic facilities, but it is its moral responsibility to promote culture, which is akin to taking care of not just the physical but also the mental health of the city. He also liked the idea of organising the event at Rangayatan, which is a good omen for an upcoming actor who is presenting his or her first major performance in front of the public.  

The one-act play competition is a wonderful grooming ground for local talent. It is an opportunity for up-and-coming acting talent to present their work in public and to have it adjudicated in public. The contestants compete not only for prizes but also for a chance to go to the bigger league: professional theatre, television and films.

When the soul speaks…

When the soul speaks…

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to bring out the best in us. The Tsunami catastrophe has truly united Indians in a noble cause – all around the country, people have been doing their bit in helping the victims of the December 26 tragedy. The endeavours of large-hearted Thaneites too have been heartening. Ever since the Tsunami disaster struck, city residents have been doing their bit for the victims, in their own little ways. Some have adopted children rendered orphans by the killer waves. Others have donated large sums towards rehabilitation programmes in remote Tsunami-affected villages. Several events have been organised in the city in aid of the victims. One such event was organised on Sunday in The Golden Swan Club at the picturesque Yeoor Hills on the evening of Sunday February 06, 2005. The programme, called Namami, meaning salutation, was a musical concert, which brought together various performers from the world of music and dance on one stage.

Sanskruti, a city-based institute for music, had organised this concert in aid of Tsunami victims with the help of few other organisations. While all performers were kind enough to perform free, as many as 800 people attended the show allowing the organisers to collect about one lakh rupees as aid, which will be donated to rehabilitate a school in Chennai.

The show began will Vandana (a prayer item), by Krishnamurti, followed by several vocal, instrumental and dance items. There was an item called Taal Vaidya Kacheri, a rhythmic fusion of south Indian instruments with Mukund Raj Deo on Tabla. Then there was Tillana and Tarana, pure dance forms of Bharatnatyam and Kathak respectively, performed by Asha Sunil Kumar (who also organised the show on Sanskriti’s behalf), Manali Deo, Nivida and Swati. A vocal item called Trimurti was presented by three ladies, Manjushree and Uttara and Veena, who sang a composition together. The last item, called Namami, was a ballet that depicted the surge of cataclysmic Tsunami and the devastation it manifested, touching a chord in the audience, and bringing their compassionate feelings to surface.

Music, they say, is the universal language of the soul. Like Victor Hugo once said, "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." No wonder the musical show was able to communicate so effectively with the audience.

There’s room for learning

There’s room for learning

It’s exam time and though temperatures have been lower than normal, the anxiety level among students is registering an increase. Exam preparation is now in full swing and at such times, what students need the most is their own space, where they are free from all kinds of distractions – which, unfortunately, is rarely found in urban homes where real estate is measured in square foot. But there’s good news for students of Thane because the TMC Education Department, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Thane MidTown (RCTM) is opening the doors of a 24/7 study room especially for them.

Located in TMC school No. 12, which is situated opposite Town Hall at Tembhi Naka, the study room has a capacity of about 75 students at a time. Access to the study room will be free but students will require ID cards, which will be issued by the TMC education department on February 07, 2005. They can obtain application forms through their schools.

The study room is an extension of the Reference Library for teachers situated in the same school. The reference library was opened for teachers of primary and secondary schools on October 29, 2004. It was inaugurated by Ex-principal of Dynansadhana College, Dawood Dalvi along with Chitamani Karkhanis, who was the chief of the education department of TMC at the time.

Speaking on the timing of the study room’s launch, President of RCTM Anant Gadre said, "We wanted to open the study room in time for those students who are appearing for their board exams. We hope the facility will be utilised optimally by the students." After judging the response to the new facility study room, TMC and RCTM plan to open many more study rooms across the city of Thane, which are certain to reduce anxiety levels in students. Don’t be surprised then, if you see a marked increase in the performance of city students at board exams this year.

Airy Praise
It is believed that artists and creative people require appreciation more than oxygen to survive. If that’s right, then Thane’s very own Tabla Maestro, Mukund Raj Deo, received the equivalent of a few gallons of fresh oxygen recently, after his splendid jugalbandi (duet performance) with another Thaneite, young Rashmin Bhagwat. At the recently held 85th All India Marathi Natya Sammelan organised by Akhil Bhartitya Marathi Natya Parishad, at Dombivli, which was inaugurated by none other than Big B Amitabh Bachchan, this year’s programme president, Suresh Khare offered a remarkable eulogy to Deo. Khare, who, along with the rest of the audience, was so spellbound by the Deo’s mastery over tabla that he said, "When you play the tabla, the beats don’t sound like beats at all – they seem to speak a language of their own." The words were like a breath of fresh air for Deo, who filled in his artistic lungs with it and his chest swelled with pride.