Nature gets a home in Priyadarshini Park

Updated: 03 October, 2020 07:23 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Plantation drive breathes life into the buzzword 'rewilding' as residents and activists attempt to restore green cover post-Nisarga

Malabar Hill Citizens Forum (MHCF) custodians of Priyadarshini Park during the tree plantation on Friday. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
Malabar Hill Citizens Forum (MHCF) custodians of Priyadarshini Park during the tree plantation on Friday. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

AMONG the avalanche of WhatsApp messages doing the rounds during the pandemic, one, in particular, stood out on Gandhi Jayanti on Friday. The message depicted a pair of round spectacles and the accompanying text read: 'Before Lenon made it cool, Potter made it magical and Jobs made it intellectual, there was one man who started the trend'.

Mumbai's Priyadarshini Park (PDP) celebrated that trendsetter Mahatma Gandhi the message referred to. Gandhi Jayanti was marked with a tree plantation drive. Park trustees, experts, gardeners and the community came together observing pandemic procedures and planted 80 trees in Nepean Sea Road's green bowl.

Cyclone effect

Susieben Shah, general secretary of the Malabar Hill Citizens Forum (MHCF) and custodian of the park, said, "Cyclone Nisarga, which left a trail of devastation in its path, uprooted many stunning trees here. Some of these overlooked the flyover next to the park. We replanted some, but this is a mammoth effort because park or no park, one can never have enough trees."


Mother Earth

Morning walker at PDP, Devang Vora said before the plantation, "The park holds a special place in my heart. I take my four-year-old granddaughter to the park every morning, so I think it is fantastic that the community is involved in the tree planting initiative. I will, in fact, be planting a tree in the name of my granddaughter. In this way, we can inculcate the love for nature in children and they can start feeling a connection with the earth from a very young age." Vora is also the Rotary Club of Bombay Harbour's project's committee chairman. The club is associated with the tree plantation. Vora finished, "The PDP has added years to my life and life to my years."

The appeal

Jayesh Pandya, Harbour Club president, said, "Though the plantation is done in a park, we thought any place in the city can do with even more green cover. We enhanced the look of the park through the meters of creepers and flowering plants. It is going to increase its aesthetic appeal. This day is particularly significant, as it is the Charter Day of our Harbour Club too."

No amount of green cover is enough, tree planters said at the event. PIC/BIPIN KOKATE
No amount of green cover is enough, tree planters said at the event. PIC/BIPIN KOKATE

New phrase

Vikram Gupta, environmentalist and founder, Gaia Conservation Foundation, at the forefront of the plantation drive, said, "Today in green terminology, the buzzword is 'rewilding'. It is a beautiful phrase, which literally means protecting an environment or space and returning it to its natural state. This is very big in Europe, and here at this park, with tree planting, we want to create spaces for nature. We want many birds to return, caterpillars to be seen. The aim is to create a jungle walk for people and an urban forest within the park."

Numbers strength

Gupta, Vora and Shah said trees that were planted are neem, coconut, tamarind, banyan and badaam, with Gupta adding, "In an ideal situation, the city should have trees distributed equitably everywhere. Let us face it — we do not have this ideal and so, whenever we get a chance to plant trees and it is feasible, we should do so. The accent should be on the number of trees."

Gupta, who is a businessman, concluded saying, "We may eventually have a vaccine for the pandemic. Let us remember though there is no vaccine for climate change. Here, we talk about going back to normal once the pandemic is over. Ecological imbalance through environmental damage is, at most times irreversible."

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First Published: 03 October, 2020 07:12 IST

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