The Agri-Horticultural Society of India has laid a rubberised track for morning walkers and is now preparing a 400-metre joggers’ track.
A first in a garden in the city, the rubberised track is 700 metres long with a width of 3.6-3.8 metres. A rubberised track offers the least impact on knees and is a boon for elderly walkers in the garden that is fast becoming a garden for health and fitness rather than a place for horticultural activities, say some long-time visitors and members.
After the rubberised track was laid at the 200-year-old park, there were requests from the young runners in the garden for a separate joggers’ track and so the garden is now carving out a 400 metres clay joggers track that will be 2 to 2.5 metre wide on its central lawn. “The senior walkers felt irritated with the young runners on the same track so we decided to have a separate joggers track for our young members,” said Sandeep Saha, secretary, AHSI.
Industrialist M.K. Jalan, who is a regular at the garden, is happy to walk on the rubberised track. “It is far more comfortable to walk on than the asphalt road,” he said.
A senior walking member of the society, Renu Singh, agreed but she had something more to say. “It’s a good walk but more people are coming here to walk than to be at a horticultural garden.”
Some visitors including erstwhile office bearers were apprehensive that the rubberised track has been done at the cost of greenery. Bharat Bajoria, who took over as president of the society in April 2020, denied the charge and said: “We are planting more trees in the garden.”
The murram path running around the garden has also been concretised. No vehicles can pass through the rubberised track, so the murram path was widened and concretised for trucks carrying pots and plants and other things for the garden to pass. “While doing so they have destroyed and cut down a number of plants and trees as heavy vehicles like JCBs ran over them,” said Renu Singh. In fact, one cannot ride a cycle or push a baby pram or walk on stilettos on the rubberised track.
The track has the old asphalt cover as its underbelly with a 9 mm coating of Shredded Rubber Crumbs (SRC), topped with a 6mm Styrene Butadiene Rubber Crumbs (STBRC). “We got the same agency who built the rubberised track at Priyadarshini Park in Mumbai to do the work here,” said Bajoria.
There are drains running along the entire length of the track with hydrants at sections to take the runoff water to the garden lake.
A yoga centre with a concrete platform and a seating area with benches have been created near the lake in the garden. “We did these things here because this area is dark and dank and nothing used to grow here as it receives no sunlight,” said Bajoria.
A regular who does not like the recent changes refused to be identified when he said: “A horticultural garden is supposed to have wilderness and undergrowth for biodiversity. It cannot be a landscaped garden.”
A lot of reorganising and re-mapping of the garden has taken place and more is in the offing. A new green house is being planned, a bougainvillaea section, a palm section and a succulent zone are being added. The tissue culture centre will be revamped, said the president.