The senior citizens of the state have a lot to cheer about as the state government has started process to set up 100 Panchvati parks and gardens for creating recreational space for the elderly in all 78 blocks of the rural areas of the state.
The Panchwati scheme notified by the Rural Development department was recently launched by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to set up such parks with outdoor sports and play areas. These parks will be primarily designed for elderly citizens to improve their fitness and wellbeing.
Under the scheme in the first phase land site has been identified for construction of these parks at development blocks Gohar in district Mandi, Bangana in district Una, Banjar and Naggar in district Kullu, Kaza in Lahaul-Spiti district, Nagrota Bagwan and Sulah in Kangra district, Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur district, Tissa and Bhatiyat in Chamba district, Kalpa in Kinnaur district, Kandaghat in Solan district, Rohru in Shimla district and Nadaun in Hamirpur district. A wide range of activities would be made available in these parks to meet physical, emotional and social needs of elderly.
"The initial work on such parks has been started at some places and construction work on parks in all above-mentioned blocks will be completed during the current financial year while the remaining 80 parks and gardens will be developed in phase manner by December 2021" said Panchayati Raj and Rural development Minister Virender Kanwar.
Each park will have state-of-art exercise and recreational equipments, one metre wide and 150 metres long stone pitched jogging track, walking tracks, an exclusive space for yoga and meditation classes, solar lights among other amenities like ladies and gents toilets, flower beds etc. where senior citizens especially living in remote, tribal and backward areas will be able to spend their time fruitfully.
The park and garden will be built at a cost of around Rs. 10 lakh and around Rs. 10 crore will be spent on construction of 100 such parks throughout the state with budget provision from convergence with MNREGA, Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) and 14th Finance Commission, stated Virender Kanwar.
He added that additional amount may be sanctioned at hilly and tough terrain where construction cost is likely to be increased significantly due to tough geographical locations. Each park will have benches, flower bed, boundary wall, fencing around the park, toilets, dustbins, exercise equipments & recreational equipments, stone pitched pat, Ayurvedic and medicinal plants such as amla, neem, tulsi and aloevera.
The shade grass (lawn) will also be grown in the parks to beautify them for health-conscious citizens besides other basic amenities for aged people. These 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 by experts from rural development departments in land area ranging from one bigha to two bighas in all 78 blocks of the state while its upkeep and maintenance will be managed by local Panchayati Raj Institutions. The park areas in higher hills and tribal area will be approximately one bigha while in plain lower areas the area can be extended up to two bighas or beyond depending on identification or availability of suitable land in the region.
According to the Rural Development Minister, the state government has set up the target of setting up Panchavati parks/ gardens with age-specific design features.