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Urban Oasis in ‘D’ Lane

'D’ Road in Marine Drive is among the first examples of a ‘green neighbourhood’ in Mumbai. For the past 12 years, the lane has been on an eco-drive, with the public doing their bit to keep their surroundings clean and green, reports Kiran Wadhwa.
By Kiran Wadhwa | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2008 12:57 AM IST

Memorable matches have made Wankede Stadium a Mumbai landmark, but the verdant lane on which the victory cheers resound is a lesser-known landmark of citizen’s ecological initiative. A walk down the 600-metre ‘D’ Road in Marine Drive will help you not only see but also experience what makes this lane different from others.

You first notice the trees, then hear the birds — parrots, mainahs and cuckoos — chirping, and then realise that the atmosphere is much cooler. You are not imagining it. The spreading canopies of the 120 trees that line the pavements barely allow the angry Mumbai sun to touch the ground.

‘D’ Road is among the first examples of a ‘green neighbourhood’ in Mumbai. For the past 12 years, the lane has been on an eco-drive, with every resident, from children to senior citizens, doing their bit to keep their surroundings clean and green.

Children who help keep the lane clean get a chocolate as a reward. “I planted this tree when I was four,” says 14-year-old Kruti Shah proudly. “Every Sunday, all the neighbourhood children come down and either plant saplings, do vermiculture or just clean the area.”

While admiring the massive trees, you cannot help notice the little wooden houses perched on their branches. These are little sparrow huts put up by the residents. “We gave the project to unemployed people and ensured that the boxes were made from used wood from discarded boxes,” said 14-year-old Kashish Kumar, who was very active in the project.

“We paid the makers Rs 500 for every hut. This way, the sparrows got a home and the unemployed got some money.”

The greenery is everywhere. “You will notice that most apartments in the buildings have potted plants outside their windows,” said 52-year-old Anil Bhatia, the inspiration behind the lane’s green revolution. “When residents take an evening walk in the lane, you will spot many of them stopping to check the health of the trees here.”

But how do the residents manage to keep their pots and plants healthy? “We do not use fertilisers. All the wet waste from the homes in the lane is put into the vermiculture pit and then used to make manure. Our trees are healthy and don’t have any white ant infestation. We’ve achieved all this without using pesticides,” said Bhatia.

The residents not only use wet waste from homes but also gather waste from nearby hotels like Marine Plaza, Mumbai Cricket Academy and Garware Club House to make manure. “We get at least 250 kgs of waste every day.”

‘D’ Road has now become the subject of many school projects, with over one hundred students writing about it. The residents have other accolades to their name. The municipal corporation gave them the ‘Best Kept Lane’ in the city award, while the Asia Urbs Foundation has this year partnered with them in an Area Management Programme.

The residents are now heading out to help keep Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive clean. “A month after the makeover was over, we saw Marine Drive was dirty again. So we picked up our brooms and swept the whole road clean,” says 8-year-old Tim Tim Kumar proudly.

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