‘Prakruti’ celebrates the forest in concrete jungle

Mumbai, Jan 10 (IANS) The fourth Prakruti Festival that celebrates the wonders of nature and wildlife opened here Friday in the midst of a concrete jungle, an organizer said.

The annual three-day festival is being held at the Bhavan’s Nature and Adventure Centre (BNAC) situated on a lush green plot, bordering a lake and a botanical garden, within the BV Bhavan’s College campus, said administrator Himanshu P. Joshi.
“Last year, over 22,000 people, including students and youth visited…This year we expect upto 35,000 visitors from Mumbai and its surroundings,” Joshi said of the initiative carried out in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The festival includes a host of activities like rock climbing, rapelling, commando and spider nets and Burma Bridge, flying fox, archery, rifle shooting, rocks and minerals display, creative crafts workshops on the re-use and re-cycling themes, fire and rescue operations, HAM radio and solar energy demonstrations, Joshi said.
These will be supplemented by shows of flowers, dogs, wild plants, medicinal plants, animal care sessions, nature trails, film shows, and nature photography workshops.
The BNAC, nurtured by naturalist Joshi and his team of young volunteers, rose from a garbage dump to a forest with hundreds of big and small trees.
It was gradually developed as a full-fledged nature centre and now has several small wild flora, fauna and reptiles, an artificial cave-cum-tunnel with rock paintings, life-size statues of tribals from India, Africa and south America, two machans (tree-top forest outposts), overnight jungle camping for students, a butterfly patch and a replica of a dinosaur fossil.
“Today, we have more than 275 species of plants here, around two dozen types of birds and animals are kept here, 45 species of butterflies can be viewed here throughout the year and over 50 species of wild-birds come during various seasons on the BNAC,” Joshi explained.
Armed with awareness about its activities, BNAC plans to expand by including many more activities and exhibits to make this a unique on-campus nature centre of its kind in the country, Joshi said.
Incidentally, besides the BNAC initiative, the Godrej Group has undertaken a unique Marine Ecology Project in Vikhroli, north-east Mumbai to conserve the vast tracts of mangroves lying adjacent to the company’s complex, which Britain’s Prince Charles visited recently.