Patna Airport was in limelight a few days back – this time not because of the unprecedented growth but due to the fact that it is one of the riskiest airports in the country because of the short length of its runway.

All the major publications of the state (whether print or online) covered this news with justified alarm. The state government was under tremendous pressure as the Ministry of Civil Aviation hinted at shutting down the airport unless the safety of passengers and aircrafts are ensured. Several actions were suggested to avoid the possible closure of the airport – however, the one which stood as the sore thumb was the proposal of cutting down nearly 4000 trees in Patna Zoo to clear the approach funnel. There was a visible discomfort in the decision as the Patna Zoo is perhaps the only area in the centre of the city to boast of such greenery. It is for nothing that it is called the ‘Lungs of the City’. It was heartbreaking for many, including me, who wish to see Patna remain green. Over the years, the green cover of the city has depleted (now at an alarming rate) to make way for residential colonies, offices and roads.

I was perturbed but I also saw an opportunity in this situation. It may be inevitable to cut down (or at least prune) the trees in the zoo to maintain the viability of the current airport until a suitable alternative is found. However, if we are bound to lose those 4000 cherished friends then we should make it a point to get 40000 more. I believe that if pressure is mounted on administration through right channels then we can actually see few concrete steps to restore the greenery of the city. Obviously, this would require a lot of planning as the city is being stretched for space. I put this idea on the Patna community of Orkut (Social Networking Website) only to find there were no takers. The discussion was on everything except the task at hand. Now, I am making one more effort to put forth the idea – this time through this medium and gauge if it has got any support here.  

The Chief Minister of Bihar has envisioned making Patna a ‘City of Parks’ – wouldn’t it be much better if we can have a topping of ‘City of Boulevards’ to it? Trees lined up on both sides across city roads would make any city look beautiful. Further, if you look at the history, Patna in ancient times had many boulevards. When we are trying to shed the image of ‘laggards’, it wouldn’t hurt us if we reclaim some of the old glory. And further, aren’t we hoping to see the tagline ‘Green Patna Clean Patna’ become true? ‘How will it be possible?’ can be the question which comes first in your mind. I am not sure if there is any way other than the participation of the entire community (and not only the environmentalists). We need sustained campaign which has popular support to achieve this task – a campaign which is anchored by respected institutions like ‘Taru Mitra’, ‘Patnadaily’, ‘Hindustan’, ‘Dainik Jagran’ etc and supported by people across demographics. The only criteria would be that the campaign needs to provide solution.

Not long back, ‘Dainik Hindustan’ has launched an admirable campaign against encroachment in the city. It was effective in bringing out the complexity of the issue and the discomfort faced by the common man. Where it failed, I think, was in bringing out concrete solutions to deal with the issue. The campaign would have been complete if the newspaper had also carried concrete steps suggested by respected experts (City Planners / Architects in this case) for each area it covered in the campaign. It would have given us and the administrators a blueprint to act upon. It would also have become a tool to ask pointed questions from the authorities in case of non performance. Alas, we missed that opportunity.

For making our city green, we need a similar effective campaign. The task, as mentioned earlier, is difficult as the city is rapidly expanding continuously looking to utilize every inch of available space. It is especially difficult in the congested Old Patna. However, with proper planning and expert guidance this can be achieved. One would need experts to canvas the entire city to come up with blueprint of the entire plantation exercise. Then it would be left to the media institutions to take it to the people. If one can present them with an envisioned imagery of our city then they are bound to support the campaign. Administrators will have to be involved at the conceptualization stage to ensure that the final draft is implemented for the betterment of the city. Institutions like Taru Mitra would have to be actively involved in the entire exercise. Non Resident Biharis can always chip in with their contributions. These are just broad guidelines. If the idea finds some acceptance and some institutions come up with a resolve to achieve a ‘Greener Patna’ then many of the steps outlined above may undergo changes. The big question is whether the citizens and esteemed organizations of Patna would recognize the challenge and come together to work seamlessly to achieve this task.

And this effort should not be restricted to Patna. There should be concerted effort to make every city and town in our country green as well. In our fast faced life, we are losing touch with nature. I hope such a campaign finds a place in our heart which would reconnect us with ‘Mother Nature’.


Rahul Shanu, Guest Contributor, PatnaDaily.Com

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