Residents of North Delhi give a thumbs up to parks
Proximity to a serene jungle has made Farooq Ahmed’s job to sell property in Jagatpur village, near Wazirabad in north Delhi, a lot easier, with the area turning into an attractive proposition for prospective buyers. Ahmed, a property dealer, says that ever since Yamuna Biodiversity Park has come up near the area, both the water levels and water quality have improved, besides the cleaner air due to the greens.
“A lot has changed for people like us in these colonies, who were mostly neglected both in terms of government services as well as quality of life,” said Ahmed, adding, “Since the biodiversity park became functional, prices of property have gone up even as there is a slump in most parts of the city. Buyers say they want a house near the park and new housing blocks have come up.”
The park is surrounded by Jagatpur and Wazirabad villages on the one side and some newer settlements such as Baba Colony and Sangam Vihar.
The hand pumps in the village, that used to run dry in summer, have enough water these days, said locals. “Residents had to dig borewells 25-30 feet deep, as the water supply from the water utility has been erratic. Now water could be tapped easily at around 10 feet,” said Amod Mishra, a businessman, who has been living in Sangam Vihar for the past 15 years.
Also, Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) and the Gauriya (Passer domesticus) could now be spotted in balconies. Both had disappeared due to rising construction work in the area.
“The entire water purification system is dependent on biodiversity. With the coming up of such parks, the problem of water supply and quality has been solved in these colonies,” said C R Babu, professor emeritus at the Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems at Delhi University.
In the relatively greener Vasant Vihar in south Delhi, adjoining the Aravalli Biodiversity Park, the levels of air pollution have come down, said morning walkers. The park has a 3km walking path.
“The air is fresher in comparison to other areas. Even when pollution levels peak during the winter, people stop going to the other urban parks but they continue to go to the biodiversity park where one always gets fresh air,” said, Vijay Prakash Mital, 85, who retired from the government’s science and technology department and is a regular at the park.
Also, the issue of open defecation in the barren open land where the park has come up have been resolved, said locals.
“Earlier the place was used for defecation and cattle grazing. Gambling and other such activities were prevalent,” said M Shah Hussain, scientist in-charge at the Aravalli Biodiversity Park.