North India's air is so polluted that many of its large cities regularly feature in Global top 100 lists of bad air.
Ludhiana District in the state of Punjab is another city with air not fit to breathe in. While there are many reasons for the massive pollution of air, we have witnessed few solutions from the society.
In fact, like other districts, deforestation is so common, tree cutting looks like a favorite hobby of citizens. Everywhere I hear the same refrain. Now that everyone needs a car bigger and flashier than the neighbor let's get rid of the green belts. It's the duty of trees to make way for concrete to house those cars, like their cousins were cut to make homes for humans.
Given this situation, I am impressed by a few going beyond the rhetoric and social media posse's and formulating solutions. Some activists approach NGT to keep authorities in check. Some are creating awareness with RTI and all.
Sambhav Foundation (founded circa 1999) has come with a unique idea called the Ludhiana Greentop City.
On the lines of the famous "Oota from your Thota" (OFYT), a major terrace gardening movement in Bengaluru, this one envisages terrace gardens in everyone's home.
Suppose everyone plants 15-20 trees on their terrace. As per Sambhav team, we can drastically improve the green cover of the city. Not to mention the benefits like better AQI and better health, especially for an industrial district.
But is it as simple as it sounds?
Let's say there are 4 lakh households in the District. If our target is 20 plants per household, we require 80 lakh plants.
Add commercial and other buildings, and we can estimate 1 Crore plants.
The scale seems to be quite ambitious. The NGO has kept a tight deadline of 15th August by when they plan to achieve all this. It looks like a tall order given that you need resources to put it all together.
How to make Ludhiana a Greentop City?
I agree with the concept, being an ardent supporter of terrace gardens. These can be your private spaces of solitude and peace. Plants bring out the best in all of us. That's the love of nature, and its bounties come in various forms.
What we require first of all to achieve this target is to conduct massive training programs and workshops. I have often witnessed that people are unable to take care of their plants due to a lack of knowledge. Plus, this project will bring with it a cultural change. Say someone who never had a garden now has one on his roof. Mass training programs are needed to train and equip people with basic knowledge.
Another focus area would be a liaison with several NGOs, Resident Welfare Associations, institutions, etc. Block and Area level committees would need to be formed for better co-ordination and faster results.
Challenge also lies in marshaling the resources and ensuring that they are put to the best use.
The team of Ludhiana Greentop Project seems to be on the right course. They have set up a roster of volunteers and are enlisting more people to join in. Capability seems to not a problem. Let us hope this project comes up with something positive for Ludhiana residents.
Both the Mental and Physical health of Ludhiana citizens is extremely poor. That's one of the reasons why Covid-19 turned out to be deadly for the city. A project like this could be very well the solution that is needed to address this situation.