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Save & Create Open Green Spaces of Surat

This petition had 2,329 supporters

It has been learnt that Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is contemplating construction of a 61 floor office building on `JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UDHYAN` at Athwalines, popularly known as Chowpati. The Garden in question is probably the second oldest garden of the city and holds a significant place in the history of the city. Thus, the decision of giving away the land for construction of building, if true, is a very SHOCKING decision by SMC!!! In a similar decision a couple of years ago, a part of Gandhi Baug was taken away to build a bus station. The Jawaharlal Udhyan has earlier too borne the brunt of SMC plans and lost quite some area for setting up of a nursery, providing space for Fire Brigade and accommodating food plazas in its two corners.
There are ample places at other locations like old Jail, where with the help of multilevel parking, a new building can be built without destroying open green spaces of the city. In a time when only 2 % of Surat City’s area is under actual tree cover and the government is running a campaign to plant more trees and enforcing stringent pollution control norms, then instead of creating new Open Green Spaces, how can the SMC think of destroying such existing gardens !!!!Is this the way Smart Cities are to be built? What message are we sending to the masses, particularly the younger generation? 
It seems that no scientific survey has been carried out before taking such a devastating decision. At present, Athwa Gate Circle faces severe traffic jams during peak hours like 9-11 AM and 6-8 PM. Around 5 to 6 schools and 8 to 9 colleges, having approx. 20,000 students, operate within 1 km periphery of this important junction. The commuting of the students causes severe traffic congestion around 12 to 1 PM, forcing the traffic police to close down the Nanpura-Athwagate road approach. In another development, the Civil Court has been given the staff quarters building space of Agriculture University for construction of new building for expansion of the Civil Court. The Parle Point-Pal Bridge is in the last stage of construction and once it starts functioning, some of the traffic which is moving from Ring Road to Athwa Gate - Adajan will be diverted to Athwalines main road. All this will put more stress on the already high traffic congestion, cause more pollution and trigger chaos in this highly populated and congested area. This decision also puts a very big question mark on the government policy of Going Green !!! More than 25 different species of birds are recorded here.If Government itself is going to destroy already existing trees, it will set a very bad precedence for the masses and many people and NGOs who are actively involved in increasing green cover of the city might get demotivated and stop undertaking planting activities in the city. All this might leave the people of Surat with no other option than to succumb to the ill effects of pollution.
India, a predominantly rural country, is very fast moving towards urbanization. Urbanization generates significant stress on land cover, native habitats, biodiversity, ecological commons and the ecosystem services that underpin human well-being
The environmental conditions in urban areas expose residents to significant public health hazards every day from toxics, heavy metals, poor ambient and indoor air quality, and a lack of open and green space. These conditions create cumulative, disproportionate and inequitable health risks to urban residents, especially in high risk populations such as children and the elderly.

Urbanisation and the associated consumerism lead to increase in pollution of water and air and degrade ecosystems. A continuous encroachment and transformation of grass lands, wetlands and water bodies into urban concrete jungles accelerates the rate of environment degradation. The last remaining green spaces in many cities have been transformed from their original state and species compositions to concrete jungles, thus severely impacting the biodiversity of the place. Increase in exotic plant species has led to decline in native bird species diversity in most of our cities. These are all results of our apathy and inhuman ways in which we treat nature and natural resources. (Merely planting trees on scattered manner or along roadsides, does not create ample atmosphere for bio-diversity)

In such era of urbanisation, open Green Spaces like spaces -Gardens play a vital role in maintaining the environmental balance as well as the aesthetics of the city. The open Green spaces not only provide some life into the concrete jungles but also act as the lungs of the city, providing habitat and breeding spaces for many animals and birds. These spaces also help in mitigating flood situations by providing space for drainage of excess water and act as carbon sinks for greenhouse gases. Many cities across the world like New York and London have laws for protecting green spaces within the city limits and have huge parks within the city for providing common open spaces. In India, cities such as Pune, Chennai and Bangalore retain significant green space in the city core despite rapid development and growth due to the presence of aware citizens.

On an average, one large tree can provide a day's supply of oxygen for up to four people and over a 24-hour period, they produce more oxygen than they use up. Trees is urban areas have the potential to reduce air pollution and decrease urban heat island effects while urban wetlands and lakes can reduce flooding, increase groundwater recharge, and stabilize soil. The open Green spaces are the last available spaces for public parks, jogging and cycling tracks, play ground for school children, open air amphitheatre, ponds for rain water harvesting and recharge etc. They not only provide environmental benefits but recreational open space for the inhabitants of cities as well.

The Open GreenSpace is ‘urban commons’, a shared resource, where the community as a whole has an interest and a say in decision making on the usage of the space. Such places of shared interest are critically important to the urban environment and must be nurtured, protected and improved under the active stewardship of both government and local communities. Saving our open Green spaces can help abate negative processes derived from city developments and help realize the goals of sustainable development – thus creating more pleasant and more environmentally-friendly cities.

It is sad that in most of the Indian cities the last common open areas are being converted into concrete jungles. What we fail to understand is this process of conversion of green spaces into a concrete jungle is a one way route and once constructed over, these open spaces are lost forever. There is a need for stringent laws to be put in place in town planning for protecting and nurturing such spaces.

Therefore, we request you as follows:
1 S.M.C. drop the proposal/decision to construct administrative building at `Jawaharlal Nehru Udhyan` (Chowpaty) Garden immediately.
2 Space allotted to food courts be cancelled.
3 SMC adopt a policy that no open spaces / Gardens / lakes are ever considered for development of building / roads / residence etc and maintain status quo.
4 Plant & nurture more native & bird friendly trees instead of exotic trees.
5 As Surat city lacks spaces, more & more traffic islands to be covered with native trees.
6 Create more Open and Green spaces.

 Nature club Surat 


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