Rotary Jungle Garden in Panvel

Near the market yard of ­Panvel city in Raigad district of Maharashtra, a two-acre urban forest — Rotary Ghandat (dense in ­Marathi) Jungle — with a park in the front has sprung up, thanks to RC Panvel Central, RID 3131. This green hub has become a centre of attraction for locals and tourists alike.

Beaming with joy, club president Ratan Kharol recalls, “For long, this place in the heart of Panvel was barren with no trees or vegetation. But after developing a Miyawaki forest with 4,300 wild trees and carving out a small part of it into a beautiful Rotary Garden, we have created a new landmark for the city.” The garden is replete with play equipment for children, joggers’ track and 10 concrete benches for elders to relax and socialise in the evenings. In the preceding year, the urban forest was designed and completed in eight months; “and we owe it all to PDG Girish Gune who mentored us throughout the project execution.”

Former MP Ramsheth Thakur (centre) at the inauguration of Rotary Garden along with PDG Girish Gune (4th from L), to his left, club president Ratan Kharol, secretary Anil Khandekar (5th from R), and Panvel MLA Prashant Thakur (3rd from R).

The jungle and the Rotary Garden were developed in “record time, thanks to perfect teamwork among the Rotary members and their families donating for both the projects.” Out of the project cost of ₹90 lakh for the Rotary Jungle, members and their families contributed ₹60 lakh, and the balance was given by CSR grants from three companies. Likewise, for the park (₹65 lakh), the Rotarians and their kin pitched in ₹37 lakh, and the balance ₹28 lakh came through CSR grants. What was once a deserted, ‘no-go’ zone is now a happening spot with the Rotary Garden getting over 1,000 visitors daily, including children who throng to the place for the play equipment.

When the Panvel Municipal Corporation gifted the land to Rotary, it was agreed that the club would maintain the jungle-cum-park for three years before returning the green hub to the civic body. “Now after seeing the response from the locals, and the way the park is being maintained by us, the corporation wants to extend our ownership for seven years,” smiles Kharol. The club is incurring a monthly expense of ₹40,000 to meet the salaries for two security guards, maintenance of the pump set, ­electricity charges and other maintenance work to keep it clean and green.

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