At one end of Mumbai’s suburbs lies a green haven where trees with their thick foliage provide respite from the scorching sun and butterflies can be spotted flitting from one flower to another.
But 15 years ago, this green space used to be a dumping ground. Filled with heaps of plastic and garbage, this two-and-a-half-acre plot on Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), would attract flies, insects and mosquitoes. “The ground had slowly started becoming a health hazard. That’s when some of us got together and decided to develop the area into a park that will benefit residents,” said Shivranjan Gulvady, member, Mahakali Advance Locality Management (ALM) that transformed the plot into a park.
Today, the Mahakali ALM Park is home to 250 species of trees, 18 types of birds and 12 varieties of butterflies. With a 50-mt walking track, the park is divided into four zones – a landscaped lawn with trees such as baobab, undi, amalta, bakul, kailashpati, bael; children’s play area that also stages cultural activities; herbal garden and an artificial pond; and close to 60 rain trees and an array of coconut and palm trees.
The efforts of Vishwanath Shetty, Ramesh Pai, Gulvady, Anoop Talwar and KA Sapat have ensured that the garden has been maintained. “With the help of a local MLA and an architect, some funds were accumulated and a blueprint for the park was created,” said Shetty, trustee, ALM Mahakali Park.
“An excavator and a leveller were used to dig the whole plot following which copious amounts of manure were spread to cover all the excess plastic pushed close to four feet under the ground,” said Shetty.
“If somebody digs the park premises, you still might find plastic,” said Gulvady, adding, “But nature has its own conservation techniques. So far, there have never been any instances of trees getting uprooted or the soil getting loose because of the buried plastic.”
The plot belongs to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and has been adopted and maintained by the ALM. “The garden has been developed beautifully and it also has enough space for cultural activities, exercise and yoga. More NGOs, locals and active citizens should help the corporation and in turn the environment,” said an official from the garden department, BMC.