Activists use puppetry to promote environment awareness in Gorakhpur
Activists in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, have adopted puppetry as a medium to educate people about problems caused to the environment by waterlogging and use of polythene.
A puppet performance was staged recently to highlight their message.
Environment degradation has led to Gorakhpur residents witnessing erratic changes in the weather, including frequent and intense rainfall over short periods of time.
The rain, combined with mountain runoff from nearby Nepal, inundates the city and villages, resulting in displacement, damaged homes and crop loss.
The accumalation of non-biodegradable material in drains, causing waterlogging and water contamination.
"The art of puppetry has dwindled, and is dying out. People do not know much about it. We have used this as a medium to attract people. We are making people aware about the waterlogging problem and inadequate provisions for waste disposal. People across various social strata are supporting our cause," said Jitendra Dwivedi, a member of the Gorakhpur Environment Action Group (GEAG), which organized the performance.
In May, Gorakhpur was one of ten Asian cities listed in a project where municipalities and environmental groups would analyse indicators such as capacity of water supply systems, incidence of waterlogging and rainfall projections, to provide the first ever climate change-specific urban development data.
The project, run by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), aims to mainstream such indicators into the cities' overall development strategy, putting climate change impact at the forefront of urban planning as rapid urbanisation takes effect.
The activists were upbeat about the response they received from the people.
"Our campaign is successful, as people are coming to us and saying that they will try and minimize their usage of polythene," said GEAG member, Mumtaz Khan.
Experts say better urban planning, taking into account climate change, is essential as more people move to cities.
In India, urbanisation sees millions of people migrating from rural areas to towns every year, resulting in higher concentration of people living in smaller spaces.
Currently, around 380 million - around a third of Indians - live in urban areas, but this is projected to increase to 600 million by 2031, say government officials.