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Greening of Powai – Rights and Responsibility

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JANUARY 31, 2009 |15:07 | OTHERS  BY : TEAM X

Majority of residents lament that Powai has lost its greenery in course of last three decades of urbanization. In contrast, the Builders claim that, road side plantations, creation of a Forest Park, development of parks amidst building complexes and manicured gardens.

Like the Nirvana Garden, the Heritage Garden and the Lake-side Garden, have considerable increased the beauty and greenery of Powai.

No doubt, a number of old mango trees along roads and scattered within many of the building complexes stand witness for the "tree-friendliness" of the Builder, and one such tree still stands.

In the middle of the road between Foundation School and Eden Bungalows-1 in spite of several assaults from passing vehicles and continues to bear seasonal flowers and fruits every year. No person who has walked through this road in an early morning hours, during the flowering season of Kadamba trees, can miss the carpet of saffron dust (Bracteoles of Kadamba flowers) on the ground and the mild aroma in the air. Sadly, this natural gift of sight and smell disappears as the sun rises in the horizon when people and cars appear and maul the road.

Greening of a locality (such as Powai), a region, a nation or country or in that case the Earth is understood by the extent of coverage of trees and plants. The intensity of plant growth depends on factors like, rainfall, type of soil and slope of the ground. Keeping these factors same, the larger the area available for plant coverage, the higher the Greening Index (GI).

Ideally, a natural forest with complete plant coverage will have a GI of 100. Appearance and settlement of people in this "Green" land automatically decreases the area of plant coverage and the GI too. A primitive settlement or a society whose livelihood is centered around forest and farming, has marginal effect on the greenery.

But a modern settlement requires land for building homes, roads and communication net-works, industries, offices and work-places, for services, for places of worship, entertainment and recreations, markets and waste disposal sites, – all of which encroach into the area of tree coverage of the green land. The GI dips to zero in a modern settlement. Road side plantation of exotic species or development of parks and gardens merely provide a "Sacred thread" of environmental greenification.

More than the appearance of people "to live" in a region, it is their habits and attitude that contribute a great deal to degreenification. A modern energy intensive society, fully dependent on fossil fuel is responsible for the increase of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere, the impact of which is known as Global Warming or Climatic Change and is equally or more adverse than de-greenification by deforestation.

Consumeristic and "throw away" culture of an affluent society ushers industrialization, for which enormous amounts of earth resources are required. Digging out (mining) of these primary resources stones, soils, minerals, metals, fossil fuels or ground-water despoils precious green lands, emissions and discharges from the industries damage green foliage and pollute natural waters, and the sprawling waste dumps damage land and top soil all combined ruin the greenery of the land. In short, urbanization and industrialization accelerate the decrease of Green Index of a region and Powai is not an exception.

In the light of the above, the onus of de-greenification of Powai can be focused on the following three parties: 1. The Bureaucracy and Government who deregulated the agricultural land and the "No Development Zone" for urbanization and handed over the land in a platter to Builders.

2. The Builder(s). No doubt, the major section of Powai has been planned, designed and laid down by an internationally reputed Builder and Powai is considered as a landmark of suburbanization in Mumbai, the deviation from the original purpose to develop Powai to a quiet scenic residential settlement was abandoned by imbibement of noisy business and commercial complexes and transport intensive center amidst the residential zone. Absence of public parking facilities has increased vehicle density on roads.

Cascading of building activities continues and adds to the noise and dust nuisance and inconvenience to the residents. Transport bottleneck has made Powai "unlivable" as much as one hears "The five-star hospital created for the benefit of the residents can not be reached on an ambulance during peak traffic hours".

In order to make Powai to be easily approachable the Jogeswari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) was made to bent through Powai.The widening of Adi Shankaracharya Marg has (and likely to) increase vehicular traffic in Powai and has already destroyed the leftover greeneries along the fringes of Powai Lake. The World Bank Aid for the JVLR project is but a Band Aid to the injury and promoted the Govt. for the beautification project of Powai Lake for entertainment and recreation.

3. The people of Powai (Powaiites): Powai is a "Water Hole", an oasis in the desert, attracts and provide opportunities to all sections of the society to live and grow according to his or her capacity and need (also greed).

These include the genuine old residents, Renters, business and service personnel, Executives, Marketers, Bankers, Assistants and Technicians and a considerable number of building workers, who either live in the campus in shanty huts or daily come and go for their livelihood.

Rapid development has brought in many ills of urbanization, degradation of environment and loss of mutual concern. People have been atomized. Powai has broad concrete roads, lined with paved footpaths, but difficult for pedestrian to maneuver through because of parked autos, mobikes, encroachment of construction activities and extension of stalls and shops in market places and more often than not, clustering of people along major sections of the footpath.

4. Powai boasts for an architecturally superb Galleria which turns into a Flea market every evening. There are modern schools where people are taught about environment, the virtue of silence and menace of noise pollution, but in most evenings its playground turns into a veritable place of noisy musics as high as 100 Decibels.

Because of various celebrations. Private social functions, religious celebrations and processions with crackers at times in the wee hours of early dawn, birth-day celebrations and annual days of Societies continues throughout the years, always accompanied with loud musics, late into night, even in days when students at home would be preparing for their examinations.

Honking of streams of buses ferrying shift employees and those picking up school children in the morning hour add to the noisy environment .In such hired buses, horns are used for calling "riders" to hurry up, while many autos and cars on the road are more of a music box than a transport medium. Thus it appears that the present state of Powai is what people in Powai brought in and not what the builder built it for.

300 years of industrial progress has brought onto the face of earth many environmental problems, the kind of which is encountered even in local scale in three decades of development in Powai. Global environmental problems, on the other hand aroused proactive Green Activisms, a Green Code, a sort of New Green Revolution at international, national, corporate and individual levels. Thus, the US election was fought and own on Green Energy issue.

The last two years' Nobel Prize was awarded to Green Crusaders Wangiri Mathai for forestation in Africa and Al Gore with IPCC for Global Warming. The UNDP,IMF, World Bank, the Greenpeace, Friends of Earth, to mention a few, are all working for regreening the Earth. Many corporate sectors, business and commercial organizations, media and individuals are equally active to adopt a green code.

Powai, though a micro-system in the "Crowded, Hot and Flat world" has not remained dormant in this green efforts. The green movement in Powai is observed in various school programmes, in activities of the Rotary, Lions Club and several NGO groups notably among them is the Young Environment Programme. The weekly news paper Planet Powai is an active media for fanning out green awareness among various sections of the society.

The New Green Revolution-The earlier Green Revolution was ushered for increase in organic production to meet the menace of world hunger. The New Green Revolution is aimed to meet the challenge of Global Warming by (1): going in for a carbon-free energy syste
m (GREEN ENERGY), (2): by creation of a waste less society by increasing efficiency.

At all levels (GREEN MANAGEMENT) and (3): by installation of a habit of conservation of natural resources for sustainable development (GREEN EARTH). It is hoped that the new Green Revolution will imbibe in humans a Green Code of companionship and compassion for all forms of life plants, animals and organism, respect for all elements of Nature mountains, rivers, lakes and shores, and preserve and protect past legacies races, languages, cultures and architectures.

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