A visit to the community park can refresh hassled bodies and weary souls. The beauty of the nature not only reboots your brain, it can give a perfect start to your day. Unfortunately, well maintained parks in colonies are a rarity in the Capital. Residents are forever complaining about the lack of facilities and upkeep of their colony parks.
Keeping this in view, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has taken up the task to give a makeover to all parks under its jurisdiction. For their facelift, the civic agency has planned various recreational facilities like open gyms, state-of-the-art swings for children, gazebos inspired by the Buddhist architecture, reflexology footpaths and other interesting features. To combat air pollution and to make the surroundings greener, the agency is emphasing on planting trees like neem, pilkhan, jamun, gulmohar, kachnar, amaltas etc in large numbers.
SDMC accelerates its plantation drive, targets one lakh trees
With the onset of monsoon, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has decided to strengthen its plantation drive. It aims to plant more than one lakh slightly grown up plants including neem, pilkhan, jamun, gulmohar, kachnar and amaltas. The decision has been taken to maximise their survival. Till last year, saplings up to two feet of height were planted by the SDMC, but some of them would not survive during heavy rain and extreme winter conditions.
“The civic agency targets to plant about one lakh plants this year and the drive will be continued till October. We will be planting different varieties of plants or trees. However, we will ensure that all of them will have a minimum height of 5-6 feet,” said Alok Singh, director, horticulture, SDMC.
An SDMC official said that monsoon is a favourable season for growth of plants and trees and that’s why massive plantation drives are carried out at this time of the year. The SDMC has started identifying appropriate sites or areas for plantation where they could be properly watered.
“The flowering and seasonal plants won’t survive for long if they don’t get regular water supply. That’s why we will plant them in parks only,” said Singh. Similarly, saplings of the big trees will be planted on roadsides, vacant sites and along the drains.
Early this month, the chairman of the SDMC standing committee, Shailender Singh, floated the idea of planting grown up plants. “Our priority is to plant more greens so that we can control pollution. And big trees like neem, peepal will solve the purpose. We will now avoid planting of small decorative or ornamental plants in the parks,” said Singh.
Apart from this, the SDMC also plans to rope in the RWAs for the proposed plantation drive. “After finalising the plan, we will share the details with the RWAs about the process for acquiring saplings for the plantation drive. They can possible get these plants from our nurseries,” said KS Meena, deputy director, horticulture, central zone.
Dakshinpuri’s open gym already a hit
Open gymnasiums in municipal parks started by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation are a hit among the residents of several colonies. Morning walkers or health enthusiasts have been using the facilities in these parks in large numbers. However, the fitness facility in F block park, Dakshinpuri is turning out to be a favourite with homemakers of the neighbourhood. These women are not just making optimum use of the equipment, they have also taken the responsibility for its maintenance. Almost a year ago, the SDMC had developed open gyms in Nizamuddin West, Dakshinpuri, Vasant Vihar, and Rajouri Garden.
“The place used to be a dumping site earlier. Following repeated demands of the residents we decided to develop a park as well an open gym here and finally last year we were successful in doing so. It seems women like it more than men,” said Khushi Ram Chunar, councillor.
However, even after establishing the facility, the SDMC officials were not sure about the proper use of the gym in Dakshinpuri. “We were also concerned about the safety of the equipment, and that people might damage it in the absence of any caretaker. However, residents not just turned up to use the facility in large numbers, but also undertook the responsibility for its maintenance,” said a horticulture official. Apart from the gym, the rest of the park has been beautifully maintained with the joint efforts of the residents and horticulture staff.
The residents lock this place when not in use to restrict the entry of unwanted elements. “Till last year there was not even a single park in the area where one could go for recreational activities. And being a homemaker it was difficult for me to find a gym and go for regular workout. But the open gym turned out to be a blessing. Now, I exercise every day with my friends and my day is incomplete without a visit to this place,” said Anita Devi, resident.
There are 12 different kinds of health equipment installed. Preeti, who has been visiting the place for the last six months says that similar facilities should be developed in other parks as well. “We come here in the morning as the place is open from 6am to 9:30am only. But at times, the place is overcrowded and thus not everyone gets an opportunity to use all the equipment. It would be better if such facilities can be developed at more places in the area,” she said.
Parks get Buddhist-style gazebos, reflexology walkways, fancy swings
In a move to make the neighbourhood parks aesthetically pleasing, crumbling rain shelters are being replaced with ‘designer huts’ by the horticulture department of the SDMC. The architecture of these shelters is along the lines of Buddhist style of construction. While rusty pillars have been replaced with pillars with sculptures, the ceiling has carved figures of birds and floral patterns. The sculptures at these huts are a visual treat for visitors.
Five such facilities have already been constructed in Sarvodaya Enclave, RK Puram Sector 2, DDA Flats in Munirka, Nangal Raya and Tilak Nagar. As the response of the residents has been overwhelming, councillors of other wards have also been pressing for the replacement of old and rickety shades with swanky ones. The construction work of these new facilities had been outsourced to a private company that has engaged skilled artists. “We also aim to plant decorative plants around these huts to make these sites even more beautiful. People have appreciated our efforts and now, we are receiving requests from other wards too for such huts,” said Alok Singh, director, horticulture, SDMC.
Highlighting the features of the designer huts, Singh said, “Unlike the traditional rain shelters with flat platforms and no sitting arrangements, we have provided proper sitting arenas. In place of fibre sheds, we have used beautiful red terracotta tiles to give them an aesthetic look. The tiled roof prevents leakage when it rains. And the damage during storms will be negligible.” Ramps have also been created to make these huts disabled-friendly.
Following the good response, the SDMC plans to develop these facilities at the parks that have provisions for open gym or recreational areas for children. “The facility will attract visitors in large numbers. In fact, we developed a designer hut before establishing an open gym in Munirka with the same objective,” said Radhey Shayma Sharma, former standing committee chairman and councillor.
According to Ashok Bhutani, former RWA president and resident of Sarvodaya Enclave, residents are praising the initiative and demanding more such designer huts to be set up here. “None of the SDMC parks had the provision for rain shelters, so the first designer hut was constructed in Central Park,” he said.
This is not all, to increase the footfall of elderly people to the parks, the SDMC is also introducing a ‘reflexology footpath’. The concrete trail is embedded with cobblestones to stimulate acupressure points on bare or stocking feet which is helpful for people suffering with joint pains. “In the a pilot project, we have constructed a 25m-long footpath at a park in Tilak Nagar. Though the initial feedback has been encouraging, we are still looking for more options before taking up the project for other parks,” said an SDMC official.
Prior to this, in March 2016, the SDMC began the process of creating well equipped recreational zones for children in each ward. In these parks, about 40 kinds of swings have been installed. These swings are made of fibre and are accompanied by signages to facilitate the use of swings. In the new financial year (2016-17), the horticulture department of SDMC aims to develop 100 parks as children’s parks.
The SDMC will also install 8,000 concrete benches in its parks. According to the SDMC officials, there are 6,518 parks under its jurisdiction. To maintain cleanliness, 1,250 good quality dustbins will also be placed in these parks.