Urban decision makers, often consider adaptive reuse of abandoned or formerly contaminated lands, such as former military bases, brownfields and landfills, while looking for more parkland for social, environmental or economic activities. These land uses provide the required land acreage in close proximity to urban settlements and play a role in establishing the identity of a sustainable city (Vogt, 2015). Around the world, landfill sites have been the focus of urban redevelopment projects as seen in Millennium Park in Boston, Slushing Meadows-Corona Park and Freshkills Park in New York City and World Cup Park in South Korea.
In Indian context, the Nisarg Udyan (Nature Park) in Koparkhairane, Navi Mumbai is one of the better examples of urban space transformation project improving the quality of life of the residents. The park serves as a recreational space for the citizens as well as a safe niche for the bio-diversity. Spread over an area of 17 Ha, this park was a landfill until 1999. After 19 years, it has transformed into an appealing recreational space. This article further discusses the case study of Nisarg Udyan and its transformation process.
Figure 1: Layout of Nisarg Udyan at Koparkhairane, Navi Mumbai
The transformation process
The transformation of this area initiated in order to address the grievances of the residential population near Koparkhairane landfill area. This initiative was in accordance to the instructions given by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and directives of the High Court (Ljiljana & Sanjay, 2012).
Scientific closure of this dumping ground containing 20 lakhs M.T garbage was completed by NMMC in 2008. A network of wells was laid to collect trapped landfill gas (LFG) and a flaring unit was installed at the site to burn the LFG. A leachate collection tank was also constructed to collect the leachate and treat it before disposal. Treated sewage water from the sewerage treatment plant is now being used for watering the lawn through a sprinkler system.
The development of the park happened in three phases:
- Phase 1 – In the process of converting the open dump yard into a garden, grass layer of 22000 sq. mt. area was laid during 2013-2014.
- Phase 2 – A jogging track was set up for the citizens residing in the nearby localities.
- Phase 3 – Infrastructure like public convenience, pergolas, dedicated sitting areas and open gym were constructed.
Image 1: Before and after transformation of Nisarg Udyan. Source: NMMC Solid Waste Dept.
Value addition under TERI’s Eco-City Project
Navi Mumbai Eco-City Project was launched with a vision to develop Navi Mumbai as India’s first Eco City. It worked on the principles of sustainable development through implementing low carbon consumption strategies and appropriate utilization and conservation of natural resources. TERI WRC has signed MoU with NMMC in 2012 to set up projects under Eco-City Programme with focus on biodiversity conservation, green buildings, urban farming, energy and water conservation.
To create environmental awareness, 15 lecterns and 4 large boards were installed in Nisarg Udyan, having information about biodiversity in the locality such as birds, butterflies, sparrows and mangroves.
Image 2: Informative lecterns at Nisarg Udyan. Sources: Completion report of installation of Biodiversity panels and Lecterns at Nisarg Udyan, Koparkhairne, Navi Mumbai, TERI
What does the space offer?
The park offers scope for many activities and opportunities for ecological conservation, some of them are mentioned below:
Active and Passive Recreation
The park has ample spaces for active and passive recreation. The active spaces include uninterrupted pathways, long spread lawns, open air gymnasium, indoor recreation arena, etc. People regardless of their age or gender use the space for jogging, morning/evening walks, yoga, sports, etc. Passive spaces like covered (Pergolas) and non-covered sit outs are popular amongst elders. Emphasis on providing infrastructure like clean public toilet, storm water drainage and providing adequate lighting is taken.
Image 3, 4, 5 & 6: Different cases of Citizens engaged in different activities
Niche for Biodiversity
Natural vegetation (mangroves and mangrove associates) around landscaped area houses several resident and migratory bird species such as Egrets, Yellow Wagtail, Brown Shrike, Black Drongo, Red Munia, Prinias, etc. The park provides grassland, woody and wetland habitat for other species like Jackals as well.
Image 7: congregation of Little Egrets in Nature Park
To tackle the challenge of maintaining such a large area, reuse of treated water is implemented assuring environmental sustainability. As per NMMC, 205 MLD sewage undergoes treatment every day and discharges 202 MLD treated water into the sea. Around 2 MLD treated water from the adjacent STP is used for irrigation in Nisarg Udayan (The Indian Express, 2018).
The impact analysis of Nisarg Udyan was done on similar lines of Day’s Sequential Model of Decision Making (1992). The model (also known as AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) is often used in marketing to describe the steps a customer takes in the process of purchasing a product. According to the four steps of AIDA:
- A person first acquires information about the place
- He/She develops interest
- The person develops a desire to visit and
- Finally takes an action, i.e. visiting the park.
Similar to the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1985), AIDA model provides framework for understanding phases of cognitive process that simulates behavioural reactions. A similar study was also done by Vogt, et al. (2015) to assess the success of Freshkills Park, New York. They examined the impacts of proximity and experience with the local history.
Figure 2: Sequential Model of Decision Making. Source – AIDA
On similar lines, responses of residents to the transformation of Nisarg Udyan were assessed. It was found that responses about the space before the transformation were only negative, owing to the foul smell, pollution and the unhygienic surroundings. Only after 2008, when the residents realized (attention) that the transformation process has been completed, they developed an interest to witness the difference. Influenced by the quality of transformed space and its benefits, they developed a desire to visit again. After being familiar, they indulged in healthy actions at the park as a part of their daily routine.
This park is a good example of creating a productive land use out of underutilized land. Proximity plays an important role here, since the group of people who once complained about the waste dump-yard gained maximum benefits after the transformation. As this is the largest park within Koparkhairane and Ghansoli nodes, people within 2-3 km proximity tend to visit Nisarg Udyan frequently for recreation. This project also highlights the importance of complimenting land uses towards alleviating the lifestyle of the residents in a city.