“A classic example of love towards nature, The 1.5 acres Devbaug Garden was once a junk yard in backdrop area of Samta Nagar Police Station Kandivali (East). Which is nurtured since 2007-2008 by a near resident couple aged 66 and 68 years named Afzal and Nusrat Khatri. Let us know more about this bio diversified location which has set and example and motivating people around Mumbai to go green and balance along with the concrete homes..”
A little About Afzal and Nusrat Khatri
It feels proud to write about respected couple Afzal and Nusrat Khatri who did this remarkable change that took huge effort and help from NSS students from Thakur College to get along the clean up junk and garbage drive for total 3 to 4 months. Old vehicles and other junk were dump which were removed with the help of BMC , Then another 3 to 4 years to make this dense bio diversified garden which is now a livelihood and home to butterflies, plants, trees, spiders, bees and other flora and faunas.
After winding up with their packaging business and staying for about 18 years in America’s NYC, They were back to Mumbai suburban, Kandivali East. The surrounding residential locations like Thakur Village, Samta Nagar during 2001 were not so commercially developed, But the visible changes towards development was faster which i have personally observed in 2001 like this couple in the story staying at Viceroy Garden, Still one of the beautiful buildings in Thakur village where this couple stays, Of course this are famous residents as an adjacent building (Oberoi Gardens) is also known for another reason being home to Bollywood actor R Madhavan (Don’t know if he still stays there).
At that 50+ age in 2001, With the passion of doing something that make a social difference and something related to nature and environment, Education, Poverty in India and Corruption, without being tagged politically, They were thinking about their next move. Although, a beautiful green location, they found that people were particularly not that caring about putting efforts and dedication towards betterment of environment, nature etc, Possibly due to fast pace of Mumbai lifestyle.Devbaug Garden Story Starts Here
One casual day somewhere around 2007-2008, They went to local Police station at Samta Nagar which is connected to National Highway in Kandivali East for some permissions related to Navratri festival celebrations in their vicinity. It was about evening time of the day, they found some dried flower pots inside police station surrounding and felt sad seeing same. It was the busy schedule because of which looking towards plants was a miss by police personal. Immediately, they showed little concern towards those dead plants and asked the police if it is ok if they provide with another few pots of flower plants, if they can now take care of same by watering them regularly.
The love & concern towards nature was visible and after some conversation the police personal pointed Khatri couples to the backyard asking if something can be done to beautify this place. Getting back those positive glance, They were requested to visit the backyard during daytime for proper visibility as it was dark in evening. That 1.5 acres of backyard behind police station was untouched since about 20 years and was loaded with junk vehicles, garbage and other unwanted stuff. During the duty short breaks and relaxation moments, Police use to sit around that backyard area, which is now a well maintained lush green land named ‘Environmental Educational Area’ teaching lesson about greenery daily to students and others visiting here.
Mission looked impossible at first sight in daytime for the very first day of survey, But the passion and commitment did the work. It took more than 3 months for initial clean-up of the junk-yard by deploying BMC JCB machines that pulled out 18 trucks full of garbage, and next 3 to 4 years to make it a ‘Khatri’s Green Heaven’. As they say, they have not bought / purchased any plants then of the dense green zone looking now. Instead, They went to nearby societies and homes asking for unwanted plants and pots as donations which can be taken care of by planting inside the backyard area, now ‘Kandivali’s Devbaug Garden’ as they got a good response.
This exceptional story started getting noticed in 2011 and 2012 with news media giving attention for this noble cause as during that time social media impact was low. The message thrown out with this happenings was automatic, If they can do it, You can do it too. The feel of self satisfaction and fulfilling of work towards mother nature is what only they can feel, i can just express it in best possible words here. The pure hearts dreamt and god helped with many anonymous people coming forward showing generosity by helping financially and donating things like clay and bricks required for development.
Samta Nagar Police Station Garden Now
After the remarkable work that begin in 2007, Its now 2018 and since 2011 this garden is now ‘Khatri’s Green Paradise’ educating many via its ‘Environment Education Center’ which is at the very place. In 2013, Approximate 1700 to 1900 varied species of plants, 75 to 80 grown up trees, 50 to 60 species of colourful birds and butterflies with feeders, Bee hives, Many unseen species of Wood & Signature Spiders, Moth of Atlas & Owl, Many Bird Nests, Lotus Ponds, 2 Natural rain water harvesting pits and many insects and fungi all stay peacefully together in this garden.
Due to the biodiversity of the location which is all green way far till the mountains of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, This garden has shown a beautiful growth naturally with temperature lower by few points compared to outside area near Police Station and Highway where vehicular and human movements is more. Below is the map detailing the exact location of this green garden behind Samta Nagar police station, Kandivali East, Connected to National Highway 8.
Pictures Courtesy : Mint (Youtube Video).