North Chennai is not just attracting the attention of film makers but also the authorities. In this part of the city marked by shortage of green space, a sprawling botanical garden, spanning eight hectares of land, has come up in Madhavaram.
Established by the State Horticulture Department, the garden, which had a soft launch last week, is the second in Chennai, the first one being Semmozhi Poonga. Broadly, it is divided into sections for fruits, medicinal plants, indoor plants, cactus and ornamental arboretum, apart from one for protected cultivation. “We are also planning a section for 27 birthstars ( nakshatram ), which are specified in the Hindu almanac,” said an official of the Horticulture Department. About 200 varieties of ornamental plants will soon be available in Madhavaram for sale.
The latest addition to the city will also perform the educative role, by providing training to interested persons for growing and maintaining ornamental gardens and impart training on farming. Audio visual/ virtual reality shows have also been planned. The main challenge faced by the department behind the setting up of the garden is the “unsuitability” of the place, from the climate point of view. “It is not that difficult to establish it in a hilly area where you have temperate climate but not in a tropical place,” the official explained.
An entry fee of ₹15 has been fixed for adults and ₹10 for children. For those who are keen on knowing more about horticulture, ₹50 will be collected from adults and ₹ 25 for children. Each visitor will be able to watch a power-point presentation and get a plant, in addition to refreshments.
Commenting on the government’s initiative towards north Chennai, T.K. Shanmugam, former secretary of North Chennai district unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said that when compared to south Chennai, the northern part has only a handful of gardens and parks which, he contends, is due to the “apathy” of the government over the years towards the area.
In recent years, Murasoli Maran Park had come up in Perambur and it is being “maintained well,” he said. Otherwise, people innorthern part of Chennai have to struggle a lot, be it for infrastructure or for the creation of parks and gardens, said Mr. Shanmugam, a long-time resident of two important localities of the north Chennai – Vysarpadi and Kodungaiyur. As for the Horticulture Department’s plans for the rest of the State, another official said that the idea is to create at least one horticulture park or garden in every district. Collectors have been asked to identify suitable sites in this regard.