Express News Service, December 14 2008, The Indian Express.

Students, scientists and concerned citizens came together today to reconnect with the green spaces in the city and learn about lesser-known sites of ecological significance. The Urban Eco-tourism Bus trip was organised by the Delhi Greens organisation as a part of the ongoing 48C Public-Art-Ecology Festival.

The tour covered the northern part of Delhi with the Bhalswa Lake near Wazirpur, Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Roshnara Garden near the Delhi University North Campus as the tour sites.

People gathered from diverse parts of the city in an attempt to learn more about their city. Some brought along their children so that they could imbibe the lesson of conservation at an early age.

“I want my children to grow up as responsible and aware citizens,” said Anuradha Singh, who travelled all the way to North Delhi from the Delhi cantonment area with her daughter and son.

The participants, aged between 6 and 60, gathered at the University Metro Station and were taken by a CNG bus to Bhalswa Lake once a popular picnic spot.

The horseshoe lake, a verdant green area, popular as a picnic site for Delhiites till 12 years ago, has now lost most of its fauna and has been abandoned due to pollution from a nearby landfill. The second leg of the tour, took participants through the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, an effort to improve the damaged wetland ecosystem of the Yamuna.

The Roshnara Park, a Mughal era garden, home to several species of trees and a venue for the 48 C festival, was the last stop of the tour. The trip was in the form of a guided tour through the sites with Fayaz Kutsar, a biologist at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park. The tour also involved extensive discussions about pollution in waterbodies and the Yamuna.

“We are trying to show people the kind of ecological damage that has happened and what we could have if we try and conserve the environment,” said Rishabh, a member of Delhi Greens and one of the organisers of the tour.

A highlight of the day was a street play by the Antraal Theatre Group about the necessity for conservation and problems arising out of over consumption of resources. The play, performed in the Yamuna Biodiversity park came after a walk through the park which houses several species of trees and plants native to the Yamuna Basin.

“We have recreated the shallow wetland ecology of the Yamuna that was lost due to pollution in Delhi,” said Kutsar about the park.

Participants were able to see several species of migratory birds and plants that have largely disappeared from Delhi’s urban landscape. “It was quite an eye-opener to see how easy it is to destroy the region, while rejuvenating it takes so long,” said a participant. Six-year-old Tarini collected many dried leaves and plans to plant the seeds that got caught in her jacket. “I’ve never seen so many plants and birds together,” she said.

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