As in many cities, in Kolkata too, greenery is at a premium. So it is imperative that every effort be made to create green spaces, where flora and fauna can create a soothing environment for visitors and residents.
The Eco Park in New Town is a unique initiative in creating such green spaces. Since being inaugurated about a year-and-a-half back, it has become one of the favourite haunts of Kolkatans yearning for some respite from living in a concrete jungle. Various initiatives and activities are being launched at the environmental enclave regularly.
An aerial view of Eco Park. In the background is the huge lake around which the park is based.
The latest to join the bandwagon is allowing visitors to release butterflies inside the Butterfly Garden. The idea is to make people appreciate these beautiful insects and the role they play in nature.
According to HIDCO chairman, Debashis Sen, the ecosystem and the dome have been created for the purpose of nurturing and promoting butterflies since the creature is vanishing from urban landscapes. HIDCO, or West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation, is responsible for the overall upkeep of the park.
The entrance plaza of the Butterfly Garden
Inside the Butterfly Garden
In the short span of six months of its existence, the dome-shaped Butterfly Garden has become one of the most visited areas of Eco Park. The sight of so many butterflies of various hues and sizes fluttering about or perching on the plants is indeed a very pleasant. More than 600 butterflies of around 30 species have been released, both inside and outside the garden, and yet more are being constantly released.
To get people more excited about butterflies, now visitors are being allowed to release newborn butterflies inside the dome. The butterflies are reared in the in-house butterfly lab. Every day seven to ten butterflies are born in the lab. Now, every Sunday, visitors can lend a hand in releasing these cute insects. The release time is from 1.30 pm to 3 pm. According to Debashis Sen, the butterflies go to sleep around 4 pm, so visitors are not allowed inside after that.
A newborn being released
However, since a small number of butterflies are born every day, in order to keep a balance between demand and supply, a fee of Rs 50 per butterfly would be charged, and a very limited number of tickets would be sold on a first-come-first-served basis. The money earned would be utilised for butterfly conservation work in urban spaces in Kolkata.
To ensure the just-released lepidopterans do not bump into anything or anybody, trained staff are present. Visitors who want to learn more about butterflies would be able to do so from guides, and also by visiting the special interpretation centre. This interpretation centre would be especially useful to students, for whom the Butterfly Garden can serve as an open-air lab like no other.
The Butterfly Garden, with an 18-metre high dome and a diameter of 20
metres is the largest such garden in eastern India. It was inaugurated
in December 2013.
The domed Butterfly Garden
This activity commenced last Sunday, that is, June 15. Butterfly expert Arjan Basu Ray had been specially requested by HIDCO to help start this exciting initiative. Arjan is also the secretary of Nature Mates-Nature Club, the NGO that maintains the garden. He gladly obliged, and so now, at a small fee, you can experience the wonderful feeling (albeit you have to reach early – after all, all good things have a limited nature to them) of releasing a newly-born butterfly inside the Butterfly Garden.
(L) Arjan Basu Ray at his laboratory; (R) Blue tiger butterfly bred & released in Eco Park
Three of the species found at Eco Park - (L to R) Plain tiger butterfly, grass yellow butterfly, blue tiger butterfly
Beautiful butterfly made out of plants at Eco Park
Written by Anushtup Haldar for Team M3.tv