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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Mumbai Greens: From ‘nullah’ garden to Borivali’s ‘Palm Jumeirah’

In 2014, the BMC decided to transform plots, divided into two by a road intersection, into a palm garden and a Sugandhi or a scented garden.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
January 9, 2022 3:36:28 pm
Walking across the road to the second part of the erstwhile dump yard, the first striking aspect of the Sugandhi garden is the chirping sound of the birds.

Until four years ago, two 5-acre plots in Borivali west’s Chikuwadi, off the New Link Road, earmarked since 2013 in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) maps as “recreation ground”, were infamously named a nullah (stormwater drain) garden by locals. A stormwater drain carrying tons of the city’s sewage, garbage trucks kept the residents away from the vacant space.

In 2014, the BMC decided to transform these plots, divided into two by a road intersection, into a palm garden and a Sugandhi or a scented garden.

Taking inspiration from Palm Jumeirah in Dubai and palm gardens in Singapore, the garden’s theme was developed.

Six years later, one of the plots is a dense and lush ‘palm garden’ called Gopinath Munde Manoranjan Maidan, with at least 17 varieties and 800 palm trees, including coconut, fishtail (leaves like the tail of a fish), foxtail, champagne palm, bottle palm. While another named after another BJP stalwart, ‘Pramod Mahajan Manoranjan Maidan’, holds at least 30 varieties of flowering and nectar plants, including garlic wine with vibrant pink flowers, fragrant white flower Anant, Rose, Parijat (Night-flowering Jasmine).

As the palm tree saplings grew to provide dense foliage over the walking track, a small open gym and three gazebos came up, the park attracted morning walkers, yoga enthusiasts and those experimenting with easily available and free of cost gym equipment.

After the morning walkers, by 9 am, locals chasing the winter sun settle down on park benches. As the afternoon approaches, strollers rest for a chat at the three gazebos and catch up on the previous day’s gossip, away from the sweltering Bombay heat. Keeping up with the internet generation, the garden is also a hotspot for social media influencers and photographers, shooting Instagram videos.

As the palm tree saplings grew to provide dense foliage over the walking track, a small open gym and three gazebos came up, the park attracted morning walkers, yoga enthusiasts.

“It took us six years to design, procure palm tree saplings and develop this patch from a dump yard to the garden which has the largest collection of palm trees in the city. In the beginning, as the palm saplings were just planted, the locals were sceptical about the theme, but now it feels great to see that every corner of this small garden is fully utilised. With 17 species of palm trees, it is also visited by a large number of botany students,” said Hemant Patil, assistant superintendent of the garden (R/N ward), responsible for developing the garden.

Taking inspiration from Palm Jumeirah in Dubai and palm gardens in Singapore, the garden’s theme was developed. Subhajit Mukherjee, one of the Ambassadors of the Majhi Vasundhara Abhiyan, a state government programme to encourage citizens’ participation in the climate change mitigation initiatives, called it Borivali’s Palm Jumeirah. “Other than the aesthetic appeal, this is a self-surviving garden in many ways. It has the least amount of civil works, a rain-harvesting unit that is equipped to suffice the daily watering needs of the garden, a composting unit using garden discards providing 10 tons of compost,” he said.

‘Pramod Mahajan Manoranjan Maidan’, holds at least 30 varieties of flowering and nectar plants, including garlic wine with vibrant pink flowers, fragrant white flower Anant, Rose, Parijat.

Walking across the road to the second part of the erstwhile dump yard, the first striking aspect of the Sugandhi garden is the chirping sound of the birds. Patil says the 30 varieties of nectar and flowering plants attract sparrows, bees, parrots to the park.

In the springtime, he says, the park is a riot of colours from all the flowering trees. Post monsoon, the ground is covered with the small, eight-petal white and saffron blooms called Parijat or the Night-time Jasmine.

The high wall of the park, the canopy of the trees and the flowering plants ensure that the nullah running parallel is not visible from inside the park. Patil, picking up the Parijat flowers from the ground, says it is not a nullah garden anymore.

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