Lilly Pool Park rises from the ruins.
Park blooms again
By Abhishek Boral

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Standing here in November 2011, the drastic change that has occurred in Lilly Pool Park can be spotted with ease. The place is cleaner, fences erected, walls repaired, guards on duty, pathways laid, lawns manicured, gardeners in attendance, flowers blooming and the garden greened. “It feels great to see the park revert its former glory!” exclaimed Zoologist Dr. A.K.Chandra while speaking about the presence of diversified birds that could be spotted in the park decades back. The presence of a sundial at Lilypool is a unique feature that gives a hint of its glorious past.

“We have been pretty successful in achieving what we planned,” says Mr. Mahesh Nair, a member of the Supervising committee for the Lilypool project. A footfall of roughly 300 people can be seen everyday despite of the renovation work being still in progress. Other than concrete benches, the park also has small concrete huts for joggers to rest during their exercising sessions.

“We have a budget of 25 lakh rupees and roughly Rupees Forty Thousand is being spent every month,” reveal officials at the park. Electricity from conventional sources that is used to light CFLs present at the park but will be replaced by energy from Solar Cells by next year end, assert members of WAYE. The setting up of Rainwater harvesting structures and a giant aquarium are presently in progress.

WAYE members hope their efforts to restore greenery in the metropolis would inspire city dwellers to engage in eco-friendly activities and turn Kolkata into clean-green city.

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Top: The restored sundial at the park. The markings seem to be missing though!
This is a Lilly Pool: How the park looked prior to the WAYE cleanup.
While the city of Kolkata, India, was making heads turn with its bigbang beautification projects like Millennium and Elliot Park, a 174000 sq ft green patch in the southern fringe of the Rabindra Sarobar opposite Bengal Rowing Club was falling prey to negligence. The laxness of over three decades had reduced the Lilly Pool Park - once known for its exotic biodiversity - to a forest of crumbling stones and weeds. In February 2010 WAYE (World Alliance for Youth Empowerment), the youth wing of The Art of Living Foundation, decided to restore the park to its previous glory.

The newly undertaken project grew momentum and caught public attention when Sri Sri Ravishankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, demonstrated the impact of community service and himself joined hands with 175 young WAYE volunteers in shoveling garbage and cleaning up the park with great gusto. Sri Sri Ravishankar who emphasizes on environment awareness had exclaimed "No one single agency or authority can undertake this mission. We need all to join hands so that together, we make a difference."
Below: A before and after comparison...
Below: The same pool pictured above has been extensively restored... still needs the lillies though!