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Dr. Nazia Rasool Latifi, the woman behind the 'vertical garden' at GCW Gandhi Nagar

The population growth alongwith uncontrolled increase in vehicular traffic has led to the spike in pollution level in Jammu and Kashmir. As per the statistics, both Jammu and Srinagar has breached the permissible limits of air pollution. J&K is the 19th biggest contributor of the greenhouse gases in the country. Vehicles are considered to be the main source of pollution owing to which city dwellers are worse hit.

Due to population explosion, more land is required so that more houses can be constructed owing to which, we are left with almost negligible piece of land to create a garden, so Dr. Nazia Rasool Latifi, Coordinator Cluster University of Jammu and the then HOD Environment Department thought about making "vertical garden" in the Government Women's College, Gandhi Nagar to counter alarming rates of air and noise pollution in the area.

Dr. Nazia, who is also the convener of the "Eco Club" of GCW Gandhi Nagar thought about involving students in this major project while teaching them an important concept of interdependence.

So, she chose vertical wall for creating the garden owing to the dearth of space. Secondly, she wanted to utilize the waste plastic bottles lying around in the vicinity. Dr. Nazia believes that plastic has become a menace owing to lack of belongingness and people must think twice before buying plastic items.

Being an environmentalist, she thought about utilizing plastic waste and especially Grade 1 plastics which are made up of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It is commonly used in beverage bottles, water bottles, medicinal jars and bean bags and is not reusable in any matter. People oftentimes store water, milk and other items in these bottles when they should discard it immediately.

The Grade 1 plastics should not be reused and even if you think about burning it, still you'll end up producing harmful gases which are carcinogenic. Thus, there is no way to put an end to it. So, instead of getting planters for the garden, she asked her students to get all those bottles from their respective places to create this innovative project.

This long vertical garden was created with the help of single-use plastic bottles lined up in 5 rows in a scheme that the mouth of one bottle is facing the tail of another. This facilitates the drip irrigation process because if the water is poured into the first bottle, it automatically trickles down to another bottle and thus no water is wasted. In order to specify the type of plants used in these bottles, she has used single-use plastic straws and disposable plates, cups etc. The vertical garden is not only aesthetically pleasing but also helps in longevity of a wall as it protects it from extreme weather conditions

She has also selected a particular set of plants meant to tackle pollution which includes chlorophytum, syngonium, succulents, creepers etc. She has deliberately chosen the plants which can exist in extreme weather conditions and are perennial.

While interacting with Jammu Links News, she has particularly emphasized on the fact that people should not start adapting this concept for the sake of making their walls aesthetically pleasing rather they should first focus on cutting down on plastic use. And in case, they have some single-use plastic lying around in their houses or institutions, they can go ahead and create a green wall.

Dr. Nazia is highly inspired by Rohit Mehra, an Internal Revenues Services Officer, the man behind the country's first railway station with vertical gardens. He has developed 150 vertical gardens all over the country. He motivated and guided Dr. Nazia to take up this project.

Dr. Nazia has great aspirations for making the environment clean and green. She has also been approached by various government departments for help in replicating this project. She has expressed enthusiasm and hope for working towards making Jammu- a cleaner and greener city. 



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Hardeep Bali