The Surat Municipal Corporation has come up with a Green City concept in an effort to encourage the public to participate in greening the city by planting plants and trees in residential societies, industrial areas, and educational institutions. A couple of days ago, the SMC launched a mobile application as part of the initiative.
Residents of Surat who are interested in planting trees and saplings, as well as those who want to donate saplings, plants or trees can register themselves on the app. SMC will provide saplings free of cost for planting and will send teams to collect plants from those who would like to donate plants.
To incentivise those persons who participate in the effort, the municipal corporation is even working on plans to provide a reduction in property tax for those who properly maintain green spaces.
The SMC’s Garden Department estimates that Surat City has around 15 lakh trees, which provides 10 to 11 per cent green cover to the city. Most of these trees are located in SMC-owned premises, whereas 80 per cent of areas in the city, where residential societies, commercial premises, textiles, diamonds, and embroidery industries, and education institutions are located cannot be reached by the municipal corporation. SMC hopes to target these privately-owned areas through the Green City concept.
The idea was conceptualised in order to adhere to the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that state that a city should have around 15 per cent tree cover.
Residential societies make up a large part of the area under SMC limits, and the local body hopes to green this area by encouraging residents’ participation. “We wanted to increase the number of trees and we’re are going on campaign mode to achieve it,” SMC Garden Department Superintendent S J Gautam said. “We are not up to the mark as per WHO guidelines. Every year we used to plant saplings with the participation of people, NGOs and other organisations, but now
we are approaching it on a bigger scale.”
Surat is one of the cities in Gujarat with the highest green cover, Municipal commissioner M Thennarasan said. “We came up with the Green City concept to beat air pollution,” he said.
SMC also plans to develop a biodiversity park at Althan area where over six lakh trees will be grown. The project is ongoing, SMC Garden department officials said. “This will add to the green cover. We are sure that in the coming days we will cross the WHO’s 15 per cent guideline,” Gautam said.
After the SMC distributes saplings free of cost, the members of the public who have registered themselves on the app will have the responsibility of maintaining them. “Our teams will regularly monitor it and after a couple of years, if we see that the trees are well maintained we will give incentives in terms of giving relaxation in (property) taxes,” Thennarasan said. “At present we have not decided the quantum of tax breaks, but our teams are working on it.”