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A Park in the Valley

Within weeks of his posting in the picturesque Parvati Valley area of Himachal Pradesh, Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Aishwarya Raj transformed a dumping zone of 2.5 acre to a stunning park- so that locals can have some quality time here.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Situated in Himachal Pradesh near the confluence of Parvati river with the Beas river, Parvati Valley offers stunning vistas and is one of most favored destination of the tourists. The valley is filled with serene natural beauty and also provides great trekking adventures. However, like it is said that even the moon has its dark spots- and so did this valley. 

Not more than 100 m from the confluence of two rivers, there was a dumping yard covering around 2.5 acres of land. The yard was filled with waste materials and was home to cactus and many wild plants from the last two decades. Suffice to say, it was a huge eyesore.

1. The dumping yard spread in 2.5 acres 2. The yard after the cleanliness drive and plantation

But since this area was not in use, so no body bothered to do anything about it. To remedy the situation would have been too much of a hassle. But, IFS officer Mr Aishwarya Raj thought otherwise and decided to do something about the dump yard. Recently posted as deputy conservator of Parvati Division, Mr. Raj was determined to clean the area along the Parvati river- including that ey4esore, the dumping zone. 

And what did this determied forest officer do? Well, he turned this dump yard into a lush green park!  Named the ‘Sangam SwarnimVatika’, the park will be thrown open to visitors this June. 

In a conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr Raj talked about this initiative which is being appreciated all around.

Used the funds for ‘Swarnim Vatika Initiative’

This is the second posting for Mr. Raj. Previously, he was posted in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh and came here in February this year. While on a visit to the area he found this yard which was filled with wild plants but same native species were also growing. “We got the idea that the quality of soil here was very good. So we should do something about. I was also informed that from the last few years the surrounding area had also become place for anti-social elements. Because of this, many people were scared to come here. I thought, If the area is cleaned up it can solve several problems at once.’’

The walking trail

 As a first step, Mr Raj’s team of forest officials installed CCTVs in the surroundings and put boards which proclaimed that anyone found involved in anti-social activities here, like drinking alcohol or gambling, would be prosecuted. Thereafter, the team started the cleanliness drive. The main hurdle was to get the funds. While, Mr. Raj was planning this initiative, the state government launched ‘Swarnim Vatika program’ to celebrate the golden jubilee of the formation of Himachal Pradesh. The officer used that fund, and all the waste material from the area was collected and send to waste processing units. Most of it was turned into manure. 

700 Plants to be planted in first phase 

After few sample tests, it became clear that the quality of soil was indeed really good in the area. Mr Raj and his team then led the plantation of native species like gladiola, apple, apricot, plum, rose, deodar and other plants of local flowers & fruits. Mr. Raj said that the target is to plant 600-700 plants in the first phase. 

The Park will be known as Sangam Swarnim Vatika

A place for locals 

To a query, Mr Raj said, “tourists come here for trekking and other experiences. They mostly don’t visit parks. However, in the past few months we have been getting request from the panchayats and local leaders for a place where local people could hang out. So this Vatika is primarily for them. We have also created a walking trail and hope that our people will have a good time here”. 

Apart from this, Mr Raj is also planning to involve the women and youth of the region in further cleanliness drives. This would ensure their continuation even after his transfer.


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