Speaker Sir, if you become the 21st Speaker of the Odisha Legislative Assembly, I am sure you will protect both the democracy and the constitution of India. Today, on this auspicious day, I would like to draw your attention to something about your previous job as Minister for Forests and the Environment.
Directly opposite the office you will be sitting in, there has been a massive disruption to the urban ecosystem of Bhubaneswar with massive destruction of green infrastructure resulting in the felling of over 800 trees.
Well, the site is popularly known as the MLA Colony, part of the capital city plan with a 16.48-square-kilometer neighborhood plan to ensure MPs can walk or bike to the State Assembly. But over the years, nobody walks or bikes to the Landtag. Thus, there was no need to demolish existing blocks of flats designed after caves and temples, or to chop off green canopies.
Perhaps the entire site should have been preserved as the capital’s heritage zone as Bhubaneswar will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in less than 300 days. This would have upgraded the city’s path to becoming a World Heritage City. New MLAs could have been relocated to a location where the environmental damage would have been less.
The lost biodiversity cannot be revived, nor can the homes that have been bulldozed. But the remaining buildings should be preserved, no more trees should be felled and the project should be relocated to new locations while the existing location is presented to the public with a new understanding of urbanization, as Singapore has done in recent years.
Yes, I’m talking about an imposing canopy of artificial trees reaching up to 50 meters tall, towering over a vast urban oasis. The colossal solar-powered Supertrees are located in the Bay South Garden, part of a 250-hectare landscaping project – Gardens by the Bay – which is an initiative of Singapore’s National Parks Board to cultivate flora and fauna from foreign lands.
The man-made mechanical forest consists of 18 Supertrees that function as vertical gardens, generate solar energy, serve as ventilation ducts for nearby conservatories, and collect rainwater. To generate electricity, 11 of the Supertrees are equipped with solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into energy, provide lighting and support water technology in the conservatories below.
Each Supertree is between 25 and 50 meters tall and features tropical flowers and various ferns climbing over its steel framework. The large canopies also act as temperature moderators, absorbing and dissipating heat and offering protection from the hot temperatures of Singapore’s climate to visitors walking under them.
Singapore has done so as part of a redevelopment program to create a new downtown district in the Marina Bay area, with Gardens by the Bay becoming an eco-tourism destination showcasing sustainable practices and plants from around the world. One can imagine it in the core of Bhubaneswar.
Bridges dubbed “Skywalks” have been erected connecting several of the taller 50-meter Supertrees (same height as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris), allowing visitors to walk between them and view the gardens from a dizzying height.
Horticultural Heaven also features two verdant greenhouses in close proximity – the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome, climate-controlled biomes inspired by the shape of an orchid flower that the project organizers hope will become the park’s main attractions.
The biomes are as big as four soccer fields and will become the new home for 220,000 plants from almost every continent. These are some of the only areas that charge an entrance fee – approximately US$22 (S$28) for holidaymakers or US$16 (S$20) for Singapore residents.
More than just futuristic looking structures, the Supertrees offer a bold new way to grow and display plants. Come up close and marvel at these intricate vertical gardens. With a diverse array of flora accented by beautiful bromeliads, ferns, orchids and tropical vines, the Super Trees will delight any plant lover.
* The tallest Supertree is about the height of a 16-story building
* Supertrees are sustainable vertical gardens that host over 162,900 plants from over 200 species
* The nightly Garden Rhapsody shows use 68 independent audio speakers
* 7 of the Supertrees are designed to harvest solar energy
One of the Flower Dome’s sustainable features is that horticultural waste feeds a massive steam turbine, generating electricity on-site to maintain the biome’s cool temperatures.
However, the supertrees and biomes account for only 5% of multi-million dollar landscape development. The remainder of the Bay South Garden will pay tribute to the ethnic make-up of the country.
At the Heritage Gardens, visitors can explore Chinese, Malay, Indian and Colonial themed areas and learn about the connections between plants and Singapore’s history. Surrounding these cultural green spaces in the remainder of the 103-acre Bay South Park are expansive areas of lakes and bridges.
The horticultural oasis contrasts with the country’s extremely dense urban environment and is part of the government’s overall strategy to transform Singapore into a ‘city in a garden’.
Hopefully during your tenure as Speaker of the State Assembly you will be a beacon to the members of the State Legislative Assembly as well as to the residents of the city of Bhubaneswar in general.