For those who travel by Mumbai locals and are all too used to seeing nothing but garbage and filth outside, Matunga Road station is bound to be a sight for sore eyes. Get ready to be greeted by a velvety lawn stretching across the length of the station – part of a new beautification project that will be unveiled later this month.
Matunga Road station’s new look will be unveiled later this month, with a lawn and flowering plants stretching across approximately 30,000 sq feet
The grassy landscape, covering an area of approximately 30,000 sq feet, has been sown with seeds of shrubs and flowering plants (see ‘Spot the plant’). “We have deliberately chosen strong, sturdy plants that can withstand rough weather and are easy to take care of,” says Roshani Shah, an urban landscape designer who is spearheading the project – a CSR initiative by Arcil, an asset reconstruction company.
Roshani Shah, the landscape artist. Pics/Atul Kamble
Shah, who has helmed the beautification of Reay Road, King Circle, Sion and Mahim station in the past, feels the biggest challenge is maintenance. “All the plants that we had sown at Mahim Station are almost dead, because nobody waters them,” she said. The team faced a similar situation at Matunga when the Railways refused to grant access to water. “We had to dig a ring well, which took about a month. In the process, a lot of plants and lawn area got damaged,” said the Wadala resident who had to re-do the work.
Last morning, a handful of workers were planting saplings, and disposing stray plastic bags from the lawn. The plants, 25 varieties in all, have been sourced from Shah’s nursery in Pune. “Although we are through with 90 per cent of the work, every morning, there’s always something more to do like getting rid of the garbage people that throw from the train,” said Shah, who started work on the project in May.
The problems, however, don’t end there. A lot of plants ended up being stolen, and the lawn area was damaged by vandals in the night. “We are still figuring a way to work around this situation. This would require a joint effort by the railway authorities and public,” she said.
Spot the plant
Golden Duranta: Semi-deciduous shrub with light green leaves
Rhoeo: Short-stemmed tender foliage plant
Cardiocrinum: Commonly known as giant lilies
Bougainvillea: Hardy flowering shrub
Periwinkle: Perennial herb with flowers
Madhumalti: Also known as the Rangoon creeper, with clusters of fragrant white pendulous trumpets
Champa: Small evergreen tree that grows up to 8 to 10 feet with swollen, fleshy branches.
A 200-metre portion of the stretch will be used to create a dry garden. “For a dry garden, you need to choose plants like sansevieria, a succulent variety, which do not need water too often and have leaves that are stiff. We will also use natural limestone and natural porous rocks,” said designer Roshani Shah.