A large number of people are coming forward to cultivate some green areas as they are exhausted by the increasing ‘concrete jungle’ in Mumbai.
These ‘guerrilla gardeners’ range from a dentist to a yoga instructor. A similar movement was started in London a few years back where people looked for abandoned spaces and planted when no one was looking.
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“We fly a four-seater aircraft over a 200-mile radius outside Mumbai and scatter seeds over areas that we can see are deforested or strip-mined,” says Dentist Dr Firdaus Batiwala. “The best way to do it is to create a seed ball of clay and manure embedded with seeds. When you throw it, and the seed sprouts and the survival rate is much better because it gets its nutrition from the ball in the initial few weeks. It’s an old Japanese technique.”
Kanchan and India teak are the indigenous seeds which he has managed to obtain with the help of Sanctuary Asia magazine and a Bhavan’s zoology professor, Parvish Pandya. These seeds can grow in worst conditions where the topsoil is lost.
Vikas Mahajan, a Malad- based businessman conducts a workshop to teach how seeds can be a treasure and can be washed then used to plant. He has formed an informal group which seed bombs regularly outside the city. Guerrilla gardeners working within Mumbai take a different route.
Keshav Srushti, an organisation which aims for a better environment has planted its first mini city forest park in Goregaon using native species of trees, shrubs and herbs.
Nisha Mulchandani, a yoga instructor, has been planting trees for years, many of which have now grown to towering heights.
She finds it difficult to find a spot to plant something as everywhere it’s cemented. She also distributes free saplings before the monsoon.