As much as 60 per cent of play equipment in the Bal Bhavan have been coloured with lead-free paints. In a few days children’s train, boat and compound wall will also be painted with lead-free paints.
The Quality Council of India (QCI) and the National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India (NRCLPI) jointly launched the programme in January this year. The QCI, a national body, jointly set up by the Government of India and organisations representing the industries, has taken up the cause of making other Bal Bhavans in the country lead-free.
Lead is poisonous to human beings. High concentrations of the heavy metal in human body can cause severe health problems. Particularly among children, it affects their nervous system making them lose IQ. Children can access lead through paints on walls in houses, schools, toys and play equipment. According to N Shashidhara, principal advisor to NRCLPI, even a deposit of six micro gram per decilitre of lead in the body can make the child dumb.
Lead is used extensively in the manufacture of paints. The metal gives the paint sheen, helps the liquid spread easily on walls and dries quick. The metal also has a particular taste - which is sweet and attracts children to taste it. The quantity of lead in paints vary. Yellow paint carries a high concentration of the metal.
The Bal Bhavan, spread over 11.5 acres in Cubbon Park, houses about 85 play equipment. The Society stopped the amusement park run by a private agency in Bal Bhavan following an accidental death of a woman while playing on tora tora last year. The latest addition to the Bal Bhavan is Science Park, which has many equipment to make schoolchildren understand Science through toys. With NRCLPI’s assistance, the Bal Bhavan Society has got these equipment coloured by lead-free paints. NRCLPI succeeded to procure lead-free paints manufactured by the state-owned Mysore Lac and Paints Ltd (MLPL).
The campus requires a total of 1,200 litres of paints and NRCLPI has already provided 300 litres. Bal Bhavan Society chairman Amrith Kumar said the Society had approached Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to sponsor lead-free paints to complete the painting.
“The Society has decided to paint vehicles of Bal Bhavan and also the office complex with lead-free paints. The total cost is expected to be around Rs 1.25 lakh,” he said.
Bal Bhavan Administrative Officer Divya Narayanappa said cost of lead-free paint is expensive when compared to normal paints. Considering the lead hazards, the expense is not at all a burden.
The Bal Bhavan Society has completed 25 years of its inception. The silver jubilee celebrations begin on September 9, this year. The Society is hopeful of completing the lead-free mission by then.