How Citizens Won Over Gurgaon Mayor

Its citizens power and their good work that prevailed! After lot of deliberations and discussions, the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon decided to let Iamgurgaon, a citizen’s movement, continue with the upkeep of the Aravalli Bio Diversity Park.

The 350 acre green patch which was earlier a mining site was under threat of getting encroached upon. Encroachment by none other then the Gurgaon Mayor, Vimal Yadav who wanted to take over the Park and convert it into a site for night safari. But the Mayor’s proposal found very few takers. Citizens and councillors shot letters and embarked on an online signature campaign to save the Park that has emerged as the green lung for Gurgaon, a city that has become a concrete jungle.

“Everybody has a different view about the park. Everybody wants to develop the park differently. What we are trying to do is create a native Aravali forest. It was not easy for us to start the restoration and plantation work but it’s getting harder to hold on,” said Latika Thukral of IamGurgaon who has been the leading lady behind this green initiative.

The Municipal Corporation now plans to spend about Rs20 crore for the maintenance and fencing of the Park. Buoyed by the people’s response to this Park and the benefits of a green area, the Corporation also plans to come up with a mini forest right across the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road towards Gurgaon just opposite to this Park. Part of the Rs20 crore will be spent of this new venture, MCG Commissioner, Vishal Gupta told NDTV.

Today the Park is a lush green mini forest with 65,000 plants native to the Aravali region. It is also home to 108 species of birds including some rare ones.

“We wanted to plant trees which are native to this region. We visited several forest and commercial nurseries of northern and western India, but could not find more than 30 species. We then started a nursery of our own. Today, there are 158 species of plants in the park and we are gradually moving towards our target of achieving 220 species. We want to develop this area as a conservatory reserve” Vijay Dhashmana, a nature enthusiast and a key member of Iamgurgaon said.

Located on the the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road near Guru Dronacharya Metro station, the Park has become a hit with people of Gurgaon who come here everyday either to walk, jog, cycle, meditate or just get some clean, fresh air or spend some time with nature. The park offers 4.5 kilometres of walking and cycling trails each.

The park was declared open by former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on June 5, 2010, on World Environment Day. The land belongs to MCG and the infrastructure has been built by them. The plantation and ecological restoration of the park has been done by Iamgurgaon, a citizen’s movement supported by more than 60 corporate houses.

“The Park means many things to many people. I am a bird watcher and I visit this Park almost everyday. I have seen people even have business meetings in this park,” Sourojit, a resident of Munirka in Delhi said.

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