Himachal to have 198 herbal gardens for elderly

A total of 198 ‘panchvati’ herbal parks and gardens are being set up for creating recreational space for the elderly in the rural areas of Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Sunday.

The ‘panchvati’ scheme notified by the Rural Development Department was launched by Chief Minister Jairam Thakur in 2020 to set up such parks with play areas.

Since these parks, maintained by the respective gram panchayats, will be primarily designed for the elderly people to improve their fitness and wellbeing, another 217 locations are being identified for them.

In these parks, ayurvedic and medicinal plants are being planted by the gram panchayats, along with recreational equipment and walking paths for the elderly. They also have solar lights, jogging tracks, toilets and special places to hold yoga and meditation classes.

‘Panchavati Upvan Bechar Ka Bagh’, constructed in Mahipur gram panchayat in Nahan development block in Sirmaur district, has been a centre of attraction for people of all age groups.

This park is spread over 120 sq mt and has a lawn, a jogging track and a play area for children with suitable seating arrangements for the elderly. The park has also been fenced and slogans with messages of environment protection have been displayed for awareness.

In 2020-21, with an expenditure of Rs 965 lakh, about 198 ‘panchvati’ parks were being constructed, whereas in 2021-22, about 217 locations have been identified for construction of such parks, an official statement said.

As many as 97 ‘panchvati’ parks would be constructed in Una district, followed by 37 in Kangra district, 23 in Shimla, 12 in Mandi and eight in Kullu.

The parks and gardens will be built at a cost of around Rs 10 lakh with budget provisions from MNREGA, Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) and the 14th Finance Commission.

Shaded grass (lawn) will also be grown in the parks to beautify them for health-conscious citizens besides other basic amenities.

The parks will also be used for promotion of sales of local products of self-help groups to generate additional economic activity and employment avenues at the village level.

These parks will be set up in land ranging from one bigha to two bighas across all 78 blocks of the state. Their maintenance will be managed by local Panchayati Raj institutions.

The park areas in tribal belts will be approximately one bigha, while in lower hills the area can be extended up to two bighas or beyond, depending on identification or availability of suitable land in the region.

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