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President's Eco-Friendly measures

The Rashtrapati Nilayam at Bollaram on the outskirts of Hyderabad is the Presidential retreat in Southern India. Originally built in 1860s, the British Residency House was taken over from the Nizam of Hyderabad after Independence and became Rashtrapati Nilayam. Spread in over 90 acres, the estate comprised a single storied European Building with 11 rooms and visitors quarters which can accommodate 150 people. It is a customary practice that the President stays at Rashtrapati Nilayam at least once in a year and conducts official work.

A photograph of the Rashtrapati Nilayam taken in 1880s. This was then the country house of the former British Resident at Bolarum, Hyderabad
A photograph of the Rashtrapati Nilayam taken in 1880s. This was then the country house of the former British Resident at Bolarum, Hyderabad.
A photograph of the Rashtrapati Nilayam taken in 2006
A photograph of the Rashtrapati Nilayam taken in 2006.

Over a period of time, the visits of successive Presidents to the retreat became rare and a good portion of the sprawling estate remained lying unproductive with wild vegetation. But now, the Rashtrapati Nilayam presents a totally changed picture ever since President Pratibha Devisingh Patil first visited the Retreat in 2007.

A photograph  of Ratsrapathi Nilayam at Bollaram on the outskirts of Hyderabad at Present
A photograph of Rashtrapati Nilayam at Bollaram on the outskirts of Hyderabad at Present.

The Eco-friendly measures initiated by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil in a phased manner have morphed the campus into a real green field in the last two and a half years.
The measures to protect, preserve and conserve the surrounding environment made the estate an eco-friendly habitat and transformed it into a picturesque location.

As a result, the fruit gardens, landscaping, ornamental flower gardens and the herbal garden have today replaced the rocky dry area that used to be filled with wild green vegetation. These gardens developed without disturbing the existing wild trees in about 40 acres are bound to inspire any visitor, who takes a stroll through the campus. All this has happened with water conserving and energy efficient measures taken up in phased manner. One of the senior officials attached to the President said, through these measures the President wants to give a message that eco-friendly habitats can be developed even in urban areas.

A fruit garden in growing stager
A fruit garden in growing stage.

The fruit garden in the Nilayam has more than 4500 varieties of fruits including Mango Sapota, Amla Guva Sitaphal Coconut, Anar and Jack fruit. Green lawns and landscape area with ornamental shrubs and variety of flowering plants including annuals, perennials, creepers and shrubs also come up in an area of about 5 acres.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil  inaugurating the Herbal garden developed at Ratsrapathi Nilayam recently on 25th December 2010
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil inaugurating the Herbal garden developed at Rashtrapati Nilayam recently on 25th December 2010.

The Herbal Garden that the President opened recently has medicinal and aromatic plants spread in over 1.5 acres. Developed by the Horticulture Department of Central Public Works Department in association with National Medicinal Plants Board and Andhra Pradesh Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Board, the herbal garden has some rare species that are on the verge of extinction. The herbal garden is aimed at preserving and promoting the medicinal values of various plants that grow widely in our surroundings and also to bring awareness about the rich heritage and diversity of medicinal plants. It has 116 species of medicinal and aromatic plants like Sarpgandha, Alovera, Citronella, Lemon grass, Khus, Geranium, Coriander, Sandalwood, Tuber rose, Jasmine, Kalmegh, Tulsi and Isbgol.

the Percolation tank built with available rocks in the premises which store rain water even after the season and also the increased greenery in the surroundings
Percolation tank.

The water needs of these vast gardens are now being met through various rain water harvesting and conservation practices. Old dug wells in the area were restored. Besides three rainwater structures, one percolation pond, made with the available stones, developed where the rain water is collected and then gets percolated into the subsoil. The pond now attracts various species of birds making the Retreat a habitat of flora and fauna. The run off water earlier used to be flown out is now being channelized, collected and percolated recharging aquifers to raise groundwater levels. Drip Irrigation systems are being used for optimum utilization of rain water.

Stand alone Solar light post set up in the Estate during day time
Stand alone Solar light post set up in the Estate during day time.

In the energy area also several initiatives are being taken up. 45 stand-alone solar light posts, each of 11 watt capacity have been set up. All the ordinary GLS lamps have been replaced with energy efficient CFLs in the main building. Energy efficient green-concept based Induction and Ceramic Discharge Metal tube Lights fittings have been provided for security and street light purpose.

Stand alone Solar light post set up in the Estate during day time
Stand alone Solar light post set up in the Estate during night time.

This is only beginning. A spiritual garden is also coming up in a due course in the Premises of Rashtrapati Nilayam. And a tree census will also be taken out which will help to maintain eco-balance and conserve the vast green heritage in the area. Without altering the 1860s building, several eco-friendly measures are being taken up at the Rashtrapati Nilayam to protect the surrounding environment on the lines of the Environment Management System that has already implemented at the President Estate in Delhi.

President at the herbal garden
President at the herbal garden.

M S Lakshmi, AIR Correspondent,Hyderabad.

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