Cravings for Greenery / New Delhi / Najafgarh
“Children who learn and play in nature are healthier, happier and smarter,” Jennifer Bristol of Texas Children in Nature, a program within Texas Parks and Wildlife, told Fatherly. Studies suggest that people who immerse themselves in landscapes and wildernesses experience mood, cognitive, health, and longevity benefits. And kids who scrape their knees on wet pond stones or play in parks have lower levels of stress and grow up caring about conservation. Studies have also shown that children who spend significant time outdoors are better able to pay attention in class and score higher on standardized tests. One 2005 study found that at-risk youth in California experienced a 27 percent increase in classroom behavior and mastery of science concepts after just one week of outdoor education.
The origination of performing better is inculcated if one starts playing or exercising from 1 or 2 age. But sadly, there is no such place to play physical games. The depletion of parks has a become a major issue especially in areas of Delhi-NCR like Najafgarh. Najafgarh is famous for giving the world hardworking sportsperson. The town which gave sportspersons like Virender Sehwag (Indian Cricketer), Mayank Dagar (Indian Cricketer), Sushil Kumar (Indian Wrestler), Bharat Kumar (Para-athlete), lacks parks. If the situation remains same how would we expect more prominence in sports from this area.
This is not the problem of Najafgarh solely, but the entire Delhi-NCR itself. Delhi has 8% forest area that is covered with greenery. While the State has about 20% green cover. For ecological sustainability one-third of total geographical area needs to be under green foliage cover in plains that applies to Delhi also. There are more than 18000 parks and gardens in NCT spread in about 8000 hectares in various locations throughout Delhi. Hence these parks and gardens, wide roadsides and central verges etc. have a wide scope to increase the area under green cover to fulfill the target of ecological sustenance. At present these areas are managed by various agencies like MCD, DDA, NDMC, PWD, CPWD etc. A few of them are very well managed while many are not in good shape. Some of Resident Associations are very active in managing these parks while many others are less active resulting in their poor management. To coordinate the management of parks and gardens in National Capital Territory Delhi State Govt. has formed a Society namely Delhi Parks and Garden Society registered under Societies Registration Act, 1860. According to the Judgement of assessment of maintenance of parks 2014 – 15, only 3 parks from the whole Delhi-NCR scored 10 points in maintenance of infrastructure. Rest of the registered 263 parks had an average score of 6-7, which is very less.
“Bache sadak par khelte hai, jo ki unke lie bilkul bhi safe nahi hai. Isliye hum bacho ko ghar ke andar rakhna ki sahi maante hai” stated a parent living in Najafgarh. People from Najafgarh go to different villages nearby like KAIRGAON, PAPRAWAT to play outdoor game, but that also if they are mature enough to go alone. Then, what about the children from 1 to 10 aged group? Now-a-days societies have started building their own little sophisticated parks. The fresh air and the kind of environment that 90s children used to get is depleting.
The Delhi government will soon launch a scheme that will allow parks to be maintained by local residents and NGOs, with the cost being borne by the city government, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said, on July 29, 2018. Addressing a gathering of representatives of residents’ welfare associations (RWAs), market associations and NGOs at Indira Gandhi Stadium, he said, “The government alone cannot do everything. We need the people’s cooperation. We want to beautify Delhi. We have about 18,000 parks in the city. Last week, I had a meeting with some members of the RWAs. About 250 RWAs maintain nearly 1,300 parks and are maintaining them well,” he said. So, the government wants to introduce a new policy, along with RWAs, women’s organizations and NGOs, for maintenance of parks in their own areas, the chief minister said. “We will bear the cost. Soon, we are going to launch the scheme and two crore people of Delhi can together make the city one of the best in the world,” he added.
When it comes to benefits of parks, other research points to a connection between contact with nature and altruistic, collaborative, and cooperative behavior. One 2006 study found that students enrolled in schools with more diverse natural environments were not just more physically active but also more civil to one another. On a societal level, studies suggest that children who grow up around nature are more environmentally conscious and more interested in conservation. “We protect what we love,” Cassy Aoyagi, who studies how local environments can benefit kids and designs gardens for schools, told Fatherly. “When kids connect to nature, they become better stewards.” But what constitutes nature? Is it enough to send your children into the backyard to reap the potential health and behavioral benefits of the great outdoors—or do you need to be a hiking family to pull that off? Does a desert count as “nature” or do we crave greenery, specifically?
This remains the subject of some dispute. In her work squeezing greenery into urban spaces, Aoyagi takes a liberal approach. “Green space and ‘nature’ could and should be everywhere,” Aoyagi says. “In our built environments, particularly our urban spaces, we tend to see only the buildings. We miss the spaces where nature could be: between buildings, in medians and parkways, and of course parks and other municipal grounds. Each of these spaces presents opportunities to connect kids with nature.”
In Mexico, an oil pipeline easement has been converted into a beautiful and functional park — La Línea Verde — in socially vulnerable neighborhoods. There would appear to be similar opportunities in other cities or countries. Under-utilized and abandoned spaces such as railway corridors, vacant lots, street verges or even power line easements could make excellent parks.