A project is being implemented in Bengaluru where Metro pillars will be converted to vertical garden Bengaluru using hydroponics. These plants absorb pollution and are a sight for sore eyes. This Metro pillar near Anil Kumble Circle is where it all starts
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the method of organically growing plants without using soil by providing all nutrients in the plants, and adequate water supply.
Whoever thought when the Metro Rail was being planned over a decade ago that it would not only ease the city’s transportation problems, but would also offer a potential to increase the green space?
On the lines of the pillar-based vertical gardens in Mexico City which went viral over social media, that potential here has been exploited by a start-up, Hydrobloom,which has developed a similar vertical garden Bengaluru on a Metro pillar near Rangoli Art Centre next to the MG Road Metro station. It has used a technology called‘hydroponics’ – growing plants by using all required nutrients through water, but without soil.
The pillar has been used as a demo on vertical garden Bengaluru after Hydrobloom sought permission from Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) – which was granted – to develop a vertical garden Bengaluru with an eye not only on aesthetics, but more importantly on reducing air pollution due to increasing number of vehicles on the roads below elevated metro lines.
The seven-kilometre Metro rail line from MG Road to Baiyappanahalli has 222 pillars, and if vertical gardens are built on them, that would increase the green space and beautify the corridor as well, Jose said.
At present, however, about 800 plants – including ornamental plants – are already a part of the vertical garden Bengaluru on the Metro pillar near Rangoli Art Centre.
Hydrobloom managing director, Sunil Jose, told “Once we succeed in getting required results, the project will be taken up on the entire stretch of MG Road. We will also look for sponsors under corporate social responsibility. The vertical garden project is ideal for cities like Bengaluru where pollution levels have increased at an alarming rate.”
He said: “A NASA clean air study showed that plants can eliminate harmful toxic gases in the air caused by various pollution sources including vehicle pollution. These plants can reduce the levels of toxic gases by 50 to 80 per cent in 24 hours.”
He also claims that plants grown using the hydroponics method use 90 per cent less water than the conventionally grown soil-based ones. About 500 litres of water is enough to feed the plants on a single Metro pillar, and the water tank is filled only once in a month.
Jose said they hydroponics has also been complemented with automation with smart sensors being fitted on the pillar to regulate the amount of water required by the plant – neither too much nor too less. In case the water level is on the lower side, then it automatically sends a message to trigger a tap at the bottom to pump up the water level; and if the water is more acidic or alkaline, then again a message alert is sent. The sensors detect the plants’ needs.
But building the vertical garden Bengaluru wasn’t without challenges. “Close to sixty plants were stolen by people, and cows were also seen grazing on these plants. We have replaced them with new plants,” said Jose.
The Metro Reach I between MG Road and Baiyappanahalli has been operational for over five years now. After the entire east-west corridor opened for commercial operations the ridership has increased drastically. At present over 1.45 lakh to 1.50 lakh passengers use metro for daily commute.
The BMRCL had also taken up beautification work on medians and pillars with the help of corporate bodies. Ornamental plants are grown on the median of the road where the pillars have been built to support Metro’s elevated structures.
The BMRCL had rented out the space to corporate bodies where they can display advertisements. In addition to these, the BMRCL has also beautified metro stations with paintings and art works.This will help to make Bangalore a cleaner and a happier place.