Tuesday, June 08, 2010

'Beautification work will not hurt a single tree'

'Beautification work will not hurt a single tree'

Shilpa CB

In an interview with Shilpa CB, N Jayaram, director of horticulture department, says their plan for food court, fountain, and rock garden will only enhance the greenery and improve the facilities for visitors.
Why is that citizens have been opposing most initiatives mooted by your department? Why is there so much disillusionment?
People react without gathering all facts. They have many misconceptions about our project. They feel the project we are planning for Lalbagh will involve removal of trees, and that it would spoil the beauty of the place. That is not true. Such misconceptions are spread partly because of wrong information coming from media.
Also, very few people write to us. Usually, we read their reactions in newspapers. But whatever comments they have, we are open to such criticisms and will proceed with the work keeping them in mind.

What are the misconceptions people have with respect to the latest proposals of making a food court, fountain, and rock garden?
People fear that the sanctity of the place will lost, that we will chop trees to make way for the food court and rock garden. That's not true. We will not remove a single tree. Only the waste land in the premises will be utilised to develop the rock garden. We will enhance the greenery and preserve the original beauty. We will consult experts and do what is best for the garden.
And when you say food court, people imagine a huge place with plenty of stalls providing a variety of food. But what we have in mind could be called a small canteen where simple refreshments plus coffee and tea will be served. But no meat or fish as people assume. Citizens themselves have requested for a small space that would sell refreshments. We are also looking at creating an evergreen forest, a small play area for children and such facilities. These are not being done to generate revenue but to improve amenities.

Of late, there have been many instances of citizens knocking on the doors of courts, launching signature campaigns and so on to get their voices heard. Why?
Some differences are bound to be there. When the government is proactive and takes up projects before citizens demand them, they are regarded with suspicion. The general impression is that projects are initiated only to serve the interests of those in power. That is not true.
Lalbagh receives about 10,000 people every day. On Sundays, the number goes up from 15,000 to 20,000. We have 82 staffers involved in gardening and cleaning. With this number, it is quite a challenge to keep the premises clean. Now we are trying to enhance the beauty of the garden and make it more attractive to all kinds of visitors. We have tourists from all over the world visiting the garden and we have received good feedback from them. They have appreciated our efforts and that encourages us to do better. In recent years, 2,000 additional species have been added to the garden. We are constantly looking out for rare species to add to our collection.

Do you feel that citizens are nosy and they are interfering in the programmes?
Not at all! Only when people are attached to the city's assets will they partner us in the initiatives. We are open to suggestions. Recently, in the case of ID cards, citizens' views were taken into consideration and the proposal was put off.


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