How a small stretch of greenery led to the creation of an Eco-park

Two acres of vacant land existed, next to Padma canal in Chatra Gram Panchayat of Baduria Block, North 24 Parganas. The land was uneven and unsuitable for use. Local miscreants used to gather in the place for anti-social activities after dark. They caused considerable nuisance in the public life of this area. The locals of the area had long cherished the idea of a park in this area. The Gram Panchayat decided to solve these problems by constructing an eco-tourism park in this unutilized land of Dakshin Chatra High School. The two acres of lands, lying beside the Padma canal has been converted into a beautiful park covered with lush green trees that attract public attention. School students now visit the park for excursions and to acquire practical knowledge of botany and the environment. No specific funds were available to the Gram Panchayat while planning this project. However, Gram Panchayats have the option to integrate grants for a particular public service. If there is a requirement, Gram Panchayats have the option to utilize public and private lands for undertaking any non-conventional activity. They can use these powers for conservation of environment and protection of endangered flora for the benefit of the future generations.

This park was constructed by integrating two grants. Accordingly, Rs. 4,43,143/- from the M.G.N.R.E.G.S and Rs. 2,25,000/- from the fourteenth finance commission were utilized for this project. 10 job card holders also received employment for 100 days from this project. These job card holders have received training for acquiring the skills of park management and maintenance. The activity of creating a food zone and its management by employing self-help groups has also progressed considerably. The Gram Panchayat hopes to create jobs for 20 people and also increase its own funds by efficient management of this park.

Beautiful trees on the banks of the canal, green pastures, bonsai, floating plants, 40 varieties of rose and 144 types of flower and fruit plants create a unique attraction for this park. Other attractions like endangered species of fruits and flowering plants, herbal garden, different species of herbs and spices also exist in this park. The plants on the floating garden attract students. New forms of cultivation have also enriched this eco-tourism park. One must witness the hydrophonic farming methods utilized here to believe it. Hydrophonics, considered as a future method of cultivation, doesn’t require uses of soil or chemical fertilizers. Tomato and Chili peppers are being produced in this eco-tourism park through this hydrophonic method. The park also has other facilities like swings, chairs, slides for children. The Gram Panchayat has a future plan of renovating the Padma canal and utilise it for boating through an online booking system. ‘The environment of this eco-tourism park helps us to rejuvenate, taking time out from the busy, mundane lives,’ commented Suparna Biswas, Block Development Officer of Baduria.

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