From dumping ground to vegetables and fruits garden, Seawoods residents do a makeover

Published on Aug 05, 2022 06:41 PM IST
A patch of land, parallel to the Uran Kharkopar railway line was once a debris dumping site; the Seawoods Sector 50E residents have now converted the entire stretch into a green patch by planting 4,000 trees; the land now bears various vegetables including brinjal, lady’s finger and bitter gourd, and fruits including jackfruit, banana, pineapple, tapioca, guava, custard apple and papaya
The place that was once a dumping ground along the Uran Kharkopar railway line is now a garden with vegetables and fruits growing in it, thanks to the initiative of Seawoods Sector 50E residents. (BACHCHAN KUMAR/HT PHOTO)
The place that was once a dumping ground along the Uran Kharkopar railway line is now a garden with vegetables and fruits growing in it, thanks to the initiative of Seawoods Sector 50E residents. (BACHCHAN KUMAR/HT PHOTO)
By, Navi Mumbai

What started off as an initiative by two to three residents has now become a mission for a majority of the people in Seawoods Sector 50E and even beyond.

A patch of land, parallel to the Uran Kharkopar railway line was once a debris dumping site. The residents, all professionals from varied fields, have now converted the entire stretch into a green patch by planting 4,000 trees.

The land now bears various vegetables including brinjal, lady’s finger and bitter gourd, and fruits including jackfruit, banana, pineapple, tapioca, guava, custard apple and papaya.

“People would come here to dispose of debris. It was a sorry sight to see and hence some of the like-minded people decided to take care of the land. Once we started, there was no looking back and now it is like a movement and new people keep contributing to this green patch from various sectors in Seawoods,” said Ashokan PP (53), an Instrumentation engineer and resident of Sector 50E who was a part of the work from the beginning.

Ranjit Dash (48), a CA by profession, had come to stay at Sector 50E in 2016. “When I came to Navi Mumbai, I did not know anyone, but then I saw that there was this land in our sector that was dirty. I started cleaning a small portion of the land and planted a few plants. The regular walkers started taking note and slowly people joined. When we had enough people, we jointly decided to convert the whole land into a green area. The first challenge was to clean it as it was filled with debris.”

The residents who came together had then approached Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) asking for help to clean and maintain the land but since the patch did not fall under its purview, the corporation initially denied. “But later, as it learnt that our intention was genuine, we got help,” Ashokan added.

The corporation provided JCB to remove the debris. “The land had all types of junk –old television, cupboard and commode – among others. We also did manual cleaning and then levelled the land. There were many reptiles as well,” Nilesh Ghag (47), a CA by profession, said.

Irrespective of their social status and their profession, people started joining in. Vivekanand Giri, who is currently a joint director in the Central Government Ministry in Delhi and was a seaport health officer back then, had also joined the initiative.

“I joined them midway in 2019, and wore the look of a farmer every Saturday and Sunday. From Monday to Friday, everybody had a different role to play in their personal lives but on Saturdays and Sundays, each one of us was seen with a shovel. It was connecting back with soil and the experience was very satisfying. I used to take my children to the place for plant identification,” Giri said.

Even now, every weekend, when he comes to Navi Mumbai, he joins the rest at the ‘garden’. “The best part is that none of the saplings were purchased and each one was grown from the seeds that we had as leftovers at home,” Ashokan added.

NMMC, too, gives water connection and also provides fertilizers periodically. The vegetables and fruits that are grown here are given to people who ask for and to anyone who visits the place. In return, all that is expected it to love back their garden.

Now, the kids in the sector too have found a new game to play in the area that also helps in cleaning the garden.

Aahana Ashokan, 12, who also is a regular contributor in the garden, said that with the opening of schools, there is a lack of time. But, during the weekends, she tries to join her father. The group now has a gardener, Tirumalesh Valmiki (36), who waters and takes care of the plants for around three hours daily and during the weekends, the residents come together. Valmiki is a sweeper in NMMC who, after his duty hours, spends time at the garden.

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