Involve NGOs in City Greening projects

C M Sharma
As elsewhere in India, people of Jammu and Kashmir also have a disposition to work in participatory mode for betterment of the environment, individually or by organizing themselves into voluntary organizations and NGOs. However, the recent anti-encroachment drive by JMC has demonstrated the necessity and urgency of preparing and unfolding official policy for NGOs and individuals to indulge in greening, beautification and other philanthropic drives, campaigns and efforts at public places and in Government and private institutions, so that their resources and investments do not go waste.
A number of NGOs, voluntary organizations and individuals have been organizing and participating in well intentioned awareness programmes, promoting urban agriculture through vertical gardens, terrace gardens, roof-top gardens, organising community langars, establishing composting units for managing biomass waste, planting trees and promoting green areas for improving air quality, mitigating urban temperatures, encouraging physical activity and improving overall health of the people besides aesthetic appeal. Even the governments are keen to promote direct marketing by the producer farmers to facilitate them in getting higher profits from every rupee spent by the consumer in purchase of agricultural produce, through other type of organizations like FPOs, SHGs, etc.
There are other NGOs and voluntary organizations and philanthropists that are actively helping the cause of education, women and child development, culture, arts and crafts, the voiceless animals and birds and supporting the destitute, the handicapped the sick and the poor.
In most of the cases, these individuals, organisations and trusts are funded and involved by the Government departments, private institutions and corporate houses (as a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility), but many others are self motivated and self driven, one may say – religiously.
But, the latest anti-encroachment drive has shown that the plantation and urban agriculture efforts that were put in by quite a few reputed, sincere, dedicated and society oriented persons were dismantled and brought to a naught. Their physical, financial, psychological and time investment on landscaping, plantation and beautification of their lanes and bye-lanes, was delivered a fatal blow by yellow paws of the mighty JCB demolition machines of the Jammu Municipal Corporation within no time.
The JMC has a justifiable reason of decongesting the city and creating genuinely motorable and walking space for the commuters for this decisive action, but what has been highlighted in the process is the lack of any policy, guidelines and also very inadequate publicity on behalf of the government and institutions, both private and public, to channelize the creativity and philanthropism of NGOs, volunteers and individuals for putting the right work at right place.
Occasionally, it is seen that the plantation on a piece of land or even any other good and well intentioned work done by one department is usurped by the owner department or any third party within a few days, months or years, rendering the whole good intentioned investment wasteful.
Therefore, the Government departments and institutions, like different wings of the forest department, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, sericulture, irrigation, roads and buildings, parks and gardens, panchayats, schools, colleges, universities, industrial complexes, hospitals and other land use departments like the revenue, etc. must come out with policy guidelines and well publicized plans and also earmark spaces and time where the NGOs, Voluntary Organisations and individuals may invest/offer their money, material and/or knowledge so that their efforts do not go waste in future.
(The author is Retd. Dy. Director of Agriculture, J&K Government)

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