THE MUMBAI International Airport Limited (MIAL), which manages Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), plans to organise study tours of its botanical garden for schoolchildren and botany students by this year-end. The students would be guided on how more than 150 species of plants are nurtured at the airport.
Medicinal and flower plants, brought from different parts of the country, could be found in the 20-acre garden located both inside and outside the arrival section at Terminal 2.
“To increase awareness about plants, we have decided to conduct study tours for children and students who study botany. We will send invitations across schools and colleges. The tour, ranging between one to one-and-a-half hours will educate them not just on what these plants are about, but also its origin and what goes into nurturing them,” a senior MIAL official said.
While MIAL started working on the garden in 2013, the project was completed within a year. Under the theme ‘Tropical Garden’, different species of tropical plants, including ferns, Bougain Vellia (on the elevated road leading to the airport), Frangipani and the Lady Palm, have been planted.
“Providing a lively space for passengers to relax or spend some quiet time around nature was the idea. We also aim to help passengers with respiratory issues or curb air pollutants present inside synthetic buildings through the plants. The garden has close to 2,25,000 plants,” the official said.
The temperature inside the airport has been adjusted to suit the plants. Only those plants that do not require sunlight to grow have found place inside. “The open garden at the arrival section is a crowd puller. However, we have faced issues in the past where passengers have acted rough with the plants. They have either plucked the leaves or spit at them,” the MIAL official said.
The garden outside the arrival section hosts a single plant variety, Livistonia, which MIAL has imported from Thailand. While a team of 10 officials from the horticulture team manage the garden, experts are hired to guide on the maintenance of plants. MIAL spends up to Rs 1 crore annually on maintaining the plants at T2. The garden inside has more than 50 varieties of plants.
“The airport has at least 500 trees that have been replanted… some had to be axed during the construction of Terminal 2. Their survival rate has been 85 per cent. We also have a nursery around the airport, which grows the same plants that have been planted and used when they dry up,” the official said.
As MIAL has bagged the award to construct Navi Mumbai International Airport, it plans to plant more of tropical plants there.