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Home / Opinion / Indians deserve more greenery, cities must change

Indians deserve more greenery, cities must change

The fundamental human need for proximity to nature is undeniable, and cities must figure out how to provide it to everyone, rich or poor, writes Bharati Chaturvedi, founder and director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group

opinion Updated: Jul 13, 2020 02:18 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi
Bharati Chaturvedi
New Delhi
Face masks are seen hanging on the branches of a tree in the backdrop of people exercising at Nehru Park in New Delhi.
Face masks are seen hanging on the branches of a tree in the backdrop of people exercising at Nehru Park in New Delhi. (PTI File Photo )

The last four months have been traumatic for most Indians. Economic issues apart, the social pain has been almost unwatchable. We’re all traumatised. Many of us need mental health relief.

Being one with nature is an important way to heal mental health. Most of us have to walk a fair distance for a patch of grass with a few trees — an urban Indian park, an apology for nature. A lot of us nurture a few plants in our tiny balconies.

Our cities must change. Let’s first redesign housing so that trees, creepers and balconies for houseplants are part of the colony space. Even a little humble gardening is known to make people happier. We deserve more greens in our commons.

The earlier vatika-type spaces stand replaced with passive parks, concrete walking trails and boring flower beds with occasional shrubs touted as outdoors.

Let’s transform these into active interactions where one can smell the flowers and mud, the trees drop their flowers and leaves around you, where earthworms come out on a rainy day with red velvet beetles.

This won’t happen just like that, because existing designers are often stubborn. We require specifications — on native plants, diversity, and many other aspects. We also need exposure to what is a great local park can be like. Most important, we have to stop cutting down our trees, choking ponds and replacing them with infra.

The fundamental human need for proximity to nature is undeniable, and cities must figure out how to provide it to everyone, rich or poor.

(The writer is the founder and director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)

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