While our students spent two days at the bamboo machaan-making workshop with Shweta Bhattad of the Gram art project at Paradsinga village, I mulled over the celebrity status of this humble material. It is a grass after all! So why celebrate the 6th World Bamboo Day on 18 September?
World Bamboo Day was declared by the Thai Royal Forest Department on 18 September 2009 in Bangkok, during the 8th World Bamboo Congress held at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel. The aim- to alter the image of bamboo as a poor man's material and bring it into the main stream especially in the developed world.
The scientists at University of Pittsburgh are testing several varieties of bamboo for their strength and mechanical properties. By standardizing these tests they aim to see that bamboo is safely used in construction.These tests also reveal the true strength and flexibility of this material. In fact some varieties are comparable to steel in their strength to weight ratio. Prof. Madhumita Roy's research on permanent bamboo buildings at Jadavpur University, West Bengal is also worth mentioning.
Bamboo building workshops are helping to forward age old building techniques to the new generation and are also experimenting with other revolutionary methods. Auroville Green Practises Workshops feature various programs related to bamboo construction. '
The Maharashtra State Bamboo Development Board was set up this month as part of the National Bamboo Mission at last bringing credibility to the numerous bamboo workers in the state.
Nagpur has the appropriate weather and a huge potential for bamboo constructions. The government really needs to boost its growth and use so as to ease pressure from our forests.
This wondergrass has come a long way from being recognizable only as panda food to becoming the poster boy of future sustainable building construction.