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Kothamangalam to get a whiff of fresh air

The suburb, which is fast turning into a concrete jungle, will soon have an eco-park and botanical garden

Published: 29th October 2019 06:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th October 2019 06:47 AM   |  A+A-

The site for Oxygen Park at Kothamangalam where saplings of rare species are being planted  Albin Mathew

Express News Service

KOCHI: Not long ago, the Forest Department had 17 acres of land in the suburbs of Kothamangalam, which was inching towards urbanisation. In no time, the town grew rapidly, eating into the land owned by the department.

However, not to let the concrete jungle consume the whole of Kothamangalam, the Forest Department has decided to set up an ‘Oxygen Park’ in the town on 40 cents of land. The green patch of land will have rare species of trees, including medicinal, ornamental, bamboo and ‘nakshatra vanam’.

“So far, we have planted over 200 saplings on the land of which 100 are medicinal plants. The saplings, carefully selected, are expected to be the green lung of Kothamangalam.  The park also has a pond, which will have a rare breed of fishlings. Besides being a hangout spot, we want the Oxygen Park to be an educational experience for students,” said Divisional Forest Officer S Unnikrishnan.

The work began on October 10 with the planting of ‘rudraksham’, ‘rakthachandanam’,  ‘nagalinga maram’ and ‘karimaram’ among other species, all provided free of cost by Nagarjuna Herbal, a prominent medicine manufacturer.  The officials are also trying to source different varieties of algae and other water plants for the pond.

Besides the botanical garden, the department is also planning a walkway, a parking lot and a cafeteria for visitors. “We want to provide a wholesome experience. Kiosks that sell forest produce will also come up at the park,” added P K Thampi, range officer.

The department, which is awaiting a nod for notifying the 5.7 acres of land as a reserve forest, is also planning a staff quarters on the premises. “For long, we have been lacking a proper building for the families of our staff to stay. We plan to build 20 flats on the premises; the work will be over by January or February,” said Thampi.

There is also a plan to renovate the divisional office building, adding a wildlife library, seminar hall and an interpretation hall in memory of ornithologist and naturalist Salim Ali. “This will be an ideal spot for people coming to the suburbs to spend some hours.”



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