It look like a long time since I posted in this blog. The habit of writing posts becomes more and more distant, when one is busy with other events, like weddings, guests, happy exhaustion, in that order.A lot has been happening, some of which I will share, in a descending order. This post about an Urban Garden meet we had today.
On March 10th I received a mail in my Intipanta group , Hyderabad, informing us about the proposed plans of our Horticultural Department , Govt. of A.P.An excerpt from Sakshi newspaper.
I was not in Hyderabad , and did not have a PC access. I let it pass, with my usual disinterest.The horticultural department did have a meeting some months back, calling us at the last-minute to attend. It was all very good to hear those speeches and power point presentations,announcing that the Department will supply know how and materials for encouraging Urban terrace gardens with minimum requirements, and some authorities will come for inspection once we obtain the help from the department. However, I was disappointed to know that HUDA authorities will not carry out the greening Urban Terraces in my area since it is a few meters out of the city. I promptly lost interest.
Another friend from the group called me , last week, while I was away asking whether I am joining in the proposed scheme of the Horticultural Department. He explained that one has to pay Rs.1200/ and register the name, and receive the kit and materials on the appointed day.It no longer mattered where we are located. Eager to know more about the govt’s offer, I collected more information from other enthusiasts. Of course skepticism is part of dealing with any agencies, and we had more questions about what are they offering, only red mud, any vermi/compost? . How many litres of neem oil etc .The established gardeners who are using cocopeat and other lighter media were not showing much interest in the offer, which looked barest minimum.
To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to go and see for myself what it was all about. When I did reach the venue at Horticultural Department Training institute, I was surprised to see a number of people seated in the lawn and power point presentations were going on in full swing with a backdrop announcing the Scheme and Minister’s participation. I was also happy to see many women in the audience ,and were showing lots of interest. Questions were posed and answered promptly.
Meanwhile, I met our group of friends , who had already registered their applications. First I was asked to register with my photograph, and an Id proof , with a xerox copy. I paid Rs.1200/ and was given a receipt. Water tea and snacks were distributed freely. Lunch too was offered.
We were to be supplied the following:
14 bags of red soil
1 bag of neem cake
2 bottles of neem oil,
one kit containing a sprayer, cutter , hose shower, and a small hoe.
4 huge grow bags.
Lots of seeds of local varieties.
We had to make our own arrangements to pick up the bags and the handout. That set off a confusion, since many of us did not know how to procure a pick up trolley.But there are always helping persons nearby, who could give us contact number of people prepared to haul those bags to our distant homes.
This arrangement or lack of it, was not welcomed by many , who voiced their concerns that the Department could have arranged the stuff to be delivered at home, and charged extra for the transport. There were concerns about use of those heavy red soil on the Terrace. Many people requested the department to supply good quality cocopeat too , if they wanted to popularize the scheme.
There was confusion over the distribution which started near about lunch time. It was getting warm, people were crowing around the staff, making them jittery. Some of the men were not very gentle, they were shouting for their turn to be first. Forming a queue is not in our Hdyerabaadi blood, so you can imagine all age groups scrambling and asking for immediate redressal.
There was another problem too, the kit was distributed at one place and the red soil etc, was to be hauled from another. The kit was not easy to hold and walk about, and I had difficulty in hauling it to the other building. The trolleys , cars were required to be placed near the mountain of bags, to enable the helpers load. More confusion and shouting matches, were ensured. We had to wait patiently till the staff were ready to address us. They were pretty professional about loading the stuff, but the public was not co-operative.
It was an exciting and tiring experience. But for my love of gardening,I would not have ventured in such mela. Luckily , our young trolley driver tried his best to help everyone. Finally we loaded our stuff and I sat in a trolley for the first time in Hyderabad, and enjoyed the bumpy ride.
The bags are lying in my front yard, and I am happy that I went for the meet. It is a small beginning, but first time in A.P. such effort is made by the Government. They are trying to extend this subsidy programme to another session too, next week.
I have not calculated the cost of the operation, or the value of subsidy. I had trouble locating red-soil and have been scouting for a good one since weeks. I also appreciated the effort of the officials who were eager to start the plan. The effort of the Minister, govt. officials and the media in providing this facility , itself is a good start for Hyderabad city. My only problem was that this event has not been covered in English press, media, but only in Telugu. This is a cosmopolitan city and this programme deserves to reach as many people as possible.
As a byline, I was interviewed by Sakshi Telugu newspaper, CTC TV and E-TV. If any of you found me in their footage, kindly let me know )