Embarking on a journey of 17,000-km, the 'Science Express Bio-diversity Special' chugged out of Delhi Safdarjung railway station as it was flagged off by senior National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ministers on Monday.
The train is on a 197-day tour which will see it cover 57 stops across 20 states. It will end its journey in Gujarat's Gandhinagar on February 6 of next year.
The train is a unique platform for dissemination of information on the bio-diversity and the flora and fauna of India. Care has been taken to not only display animal portraits but also to give information on them, including on habitat and food habits.
The train will cover the north, south, east and west of India. Surprisingly, it does not have any of the north-eastern states on its itinerary. "Our country has a vast store of bio-diversity. We have only a 2.5% share of the earth's landmass... and yet, 8% (of the planet's) biodiversity. We need to showcase this to future generations," said Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment and Forests.
"If the protection of environment is etched in the minds of students, they will never do anything that will harm nature. A nation that does not accept science or opposes it is bound to fail," he stressed.
He also urged Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda to make the train operational for the entire year. Gowda stated that the initiative was innovative and touched the "real India". It provides a platform for showcasing the achievements of science as also the railways, which extends logistical support to the Science Express.
Minister for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, said that science needs to be utilised for the larger goal of social transformation. It has to be used for optimum social progress and scientific transformation, he said.