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Save Vaccine Depot Again?

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The British established three extensive ‘Vaccine Institutes’ in the country – in Kasauli, Bareilly and in Belagavi. Belagavi’s ‘Vaccine Depot’, established in 1904 by Capt. F.H.G. Hutchinson began contributing freeze-dried anti-smallpox vaccine almost from its inception, building up to 47 million doses in 1977.

The Vaccine Depot in Belagavi is among the few spaces left with natural vegetation; a wonderful ecosystem with life and vigor of its own, thanks to the fact that we have managed to keep it thus. A few years ago it hit the headlines when there was a proposal to set up the Legislative Assembly building at the site in 2007, an attempt that we Belgaumites managed to successfully quell.

The site is in the news again with a proposal to develop a park of sorts with expansive and expensive landscaping to be undertaken as per the plan released by Shri Abhay Patil. While the proposal might seem to be an interesting inclusion in the Smart City program, it is far from what many desire. Thankfully, the authorities still mention it as a proposal and not a plan that’s going to be implemented.

vaccine-depot-landscapingOne ingenious plan envisaged the location of the ‘Suvarna Soudha’ within the precincts of the existing Vaccine Depot with a compound wall measuring 3.396 kilometres all around it. Wisdom finally prevailed and the State Government then proposed to utilize the entire land as a Botanical Garden and Heritage Park.

Despite this, on 3rd May 2011, BUDA proposed that 33 acres of this Vaccine Depot be acquired for construction of residential quarters for the Staff of the Belagavi Institute of Medical Sciences. Another 20 acres was to be “developed”!

The city survives because of four lungs – the Fort, the Vaccine Depot, the Camp area, and the Race Course. These four are the ‘oxygen factories’ in the city. Three of them survive because they are in Cantonment – and under the control of the Central Government.

vaccine-depot-landscaping-1Already work on the Heritage park is in progress and Wier construction has been completed. Other works for the heritage park were to start in some time which includes the Grameen Bharat sculpture court.

Now it is planned to have Landscaped and this is a plan and still unclear if any trees and the flora & fauna would be done away with. Landscaping does more harm to the ecosystem especially since it encourages monoculture and the introduction of non-native species just for their aesthetic appeal. These can never replace the existing functionality of the site. Mother Nature’s creations are always superior to human interventions.

The change would be devastating for the species of birds, animals, and insects that currently thrive there since they would have to relocate.

Photo taken inside Vaccine Depot

While we thank our elected representative for the consideration to beautify Belagavi, it would be wonderful if the said park could be developed on an alternative barren space rather than an existing lush green, native habitat. We could appreciate it if the authorities invest in keeping the area as clean, litter-free and intact as is necessary.

Comments on Facebook –

Mandar Kolhapure said Concept is good. The intention is also good. But let’s keep Vaccine depot as it is naturally. Let’s not disturb the ecosystem that has been built there for many years with so many rare species of birds, plants and flowers. Don’t want concretization everywhere, spare the vaccine depot. People who regularly visit may agree with this, others can label me anti-development. Vaccine Depot is not a place, it’s an emotion.

Manali Patki Godbole commented – Preserve the natural forest as it is…there are many more places which need development..this will become like the Congress well where no one visits. We at least have 1 piece of land to tell our kids what mini-forest looks like. Also, grass and shrubs cannot bring rain even if they look beautiful. Please preserve this piece of land as it is.

Birds in Vaccine Depot
Birds in Vaccine Depot

Apoorva Chikkamath Glad to see few people interested in preserving the natural ecosystem of vaccine depot. Surprised to see few educated men praising the project just because it looks colorful in d map!! Nature has its own way to work. Whenever man has tried to encroach it and alter it, der has always been destruction and not development. We kindly request you respected Abhay Patil sir not to disturb the place and natural beauty of it.. we can further make it look beautiful by adding some native species or by even creating dense forest!!

Ketaki Bhagwat commented – Please leave the vaccine depot as it is.. we as belgaumites are very proud to have this piece of land which is habitat to 100years old trees with more than 100 varieties of birds nesting. We appreciate the idea of building a park.. please do it elsewhere away from the city premises. Vaccine depot is surrounded by residential area.. building a park will create nuisance and traffic, parking issues.. please reconsider your decision of demolishing something that is priceless and precious.

Vaccine Depot
Vaccine Depot

Arun Prabhu – Cutting full-grown trees for planting more trees and lawn ? Something does not sound rite. Choose a different barren site to make this happen. I would choose what we have at vaccine depot over whatever is being designed here. Plus lawns need a lot of water and maintenance, it is most likely that within a year laws will be all dried up. “Grass is not always greener on the other side”.

Anil Gudi commented – But I wish it be done somewhere else and not in VACCINE DEPOT. My Frank view. Please do not fail the trees there. Let nature remain as is but maintain it well. There is a lot of open barren area around Belagavi. Make that a green area as is done in Raipur if I am not mistaken. Try and do something better at the DEAR PARK which is a must. A more priority on this day is storing, blocking as much water in lakes Rivers and raising the subsoil water which is required badly for HUMAN BEINGS, ANIMALS & the dream projects like these. Hence please please think it over and let’s act on it. I pray to you and God be this your dream project.I KNOW IT IS ONLY YOU WHO CAN TAKE IT FURTHER WITH NAMO and team.  50% of people in Belagavi are starving for even drinking water required to live. I am not an expert but if you wish I can surely meet you and discuss with you and share my views as much as I can.

Vaccine Depot
Vaccine Depot. Photo Credits: Manish Khapare

Bhavana Kulkarni – Such places act like urban forests in the city, which help in controlling the environmental conditions. People these days are planting more trees and just keeping it natural to act as urban forests. We here are again adding man-made interventions and spoiling the natural habitat already existing there. In the name of development, such projects are a curse to nature. Without public participation, this project shouldn’t be taken forward. These 3d visuals looks like any other place in the world, losing all the originality and context of Vaccine Depot.

Avantika Desai – Belgaum has already lost an enormous amount of trees under the name of development!! And I am sure the residents of the city are already facing the effects of this. Don’t forget the summers of 2019. Destroying the natural landscape to create a man made one is not an approach! #savenature #savevaccinedepot

It is time to Vaccinate the Vaccine Depot against such considerations and to declare it as a Natural Heritage Site which will forever stay untouched.

Vaccine Depot’, to the people of Belagavi is the sacred ground, the ‘karma bhoomi’, where the battle, against smallpox, was fought.

Twenty years from now, the people of Belagavi will yearn for some space free of smoke, dust and concrete structures.

We wish to see our dynamic leader come forward and explain the entire plan and clear the doubts of the citizens, or else we will have collectively destroyed Vaccine Depot by then – by inaction, silence, fear?

14 thoughts on “Save Vaccine Depot Again?”

  1. Development can come ,but not at a cost of loosing a good heritage

    If they want a good park and amenties to come up they can develop it ahead at vtu or some other barren lands and places

    If elected representatives want to really do good ,let them come up with good parking spaces and urinals is cities as it will save city from many hassles .

  2. Vaccine institute should be kept as it is without any interventions… only thing they can do is plant more trees & maintain them . Shri Abhay Patil is already doing that & planted & maintained trees as memories of Kargil heros. Now no necessity to do landscaping etc at vaccine Depo. Already smart city road has spoiled many road side trees of vaccine Depo. Anyway we will discuss with Shri Abhay Patil , MLA & convince him. We had faught for vaccine institute nature for many times under vaccine Depo Bachav Samiti & request all members to be active to save this heritage.

  3. I am based in Pune.
    All such beautification(its really CONCRETIZATION), development(leading to destruction) projects on hills, hill tops, hill slopes, hillocks etc. in Pune are turning the city into a water starved heat island.

    Any form of human intervention, especially CONCRETIZATION- no matter how small, will eventually disrupt the aquifers thereby hampering Groundwater recharge. Any artificial structures have a variety of cascading negative impacts which vary from Biodiversity, habitat loss to Water crisis which have led to desertification.

    Citizen in Pune have woken up to the horrific aftermath of development. They are now lobbying hard to maintain and protect whatever hills, trees, streams, rivulets, lakes, Groundwater recharge areas are left in the Natural Form.

    Just 20 years ago Pune used to have average temperature of 28°C. It’s now well over 35°C and easily crosses 42°C in summers.

    I have been visiting my relatives in Belgaum for over 30 years now. I do not wish Belgaum to turn into present day Pune.

    All of Belgaum needs to come together and strongly demand absolute conservation of all Green spaces, Open spaces, Forests, Hills, River banks, Lakes, Groundwater recharge areas all across.

  4. Please leave vaccine depot as it is. Nearly thousands of herbs and different species of birds are coexisting in the same terrain. Let’s not kill them in the name of development.

  5. Go elsewhere for development ones you commercialize vaccine depot you wll destroy everything inside depot and also surrounding

  6. In the name of development Vaccine depot is being destroyed of it’s natural beauty. So many trees have been cut. Every year during Vanamahostav trees are planted by leaders . But who takes care of them? Many citizens sponsore the tree and their names were shown on them. They just fade away in just few days. Even the citizens who sponsored them never looked at them. Really it hurts. Once those who want to develope the Vaccine depot must Visit Shimoga Gandhi park, Bangalore lalbagh. In UK tree plantation is given to private agency. Every week they should give proof of trees growth. Then only their payment will be made. There citizens questions the government about the utilisation of their tax paid amount. In Belgaum we can not ask them leave aside questioning. .the bridge constructed near railway station is in such a bad shape and we don’t know when it collapses. God only has to save our lives.

  7. After reading the article really feel that the depot should be left as it is… URBAN FOREST, a nice initiative. But also some sort of development or planned work is also needed as ppl could be attracted and use the place and enjoy the nature.
    Many a pockets are there which can be used for the purpose without disturbing the Eco system

  8. Mr. Patil, keep limits on your one upmanship with Mother Nature.

    What about gutter to gutter road surfacing or having proper drainage system ?

    What about parking space in Bhangi bol ?

    Where is proper vegetable market for a subsistence farmers who come to sell their fresh produce ?

    Where are the decent urinals for men or women or children ? We have one in Thalakwadi near Sai Mandir on railway land which is always locked.

    What are you doing to change the behaviour of citizens who park their vehicles shamelessly and drive/ride recklessly ?

    Don’t destroy what is already beautiful. We also have common-sense more than you. If you destroy Vaccine Depot now, we will not be able to see it in present glory anytime in our lifetime. One minister comes, builds glass house and vanishes. We have some respect for good works you do, don’t let us think otherwise.

    Will we have shade and fruit giving trees on both sides of every street and road in your assembly constituency ?

    Will every household and food serving establishment have bio-degradable composting units at their premise ?

    Will rainwater ground recharge be made compulsory in every building ?

    There are many more pressing questions which require solutions. Don’t cut any tree or smother any sapling.

  9. On this subject I had detail telephonic talk with Shri Abhay Patil, MLA who is in Bangalore attending the session. It was learnt from him that he had invited suggestions from citizens on the development & status of Vaccine depot , conducted series of meetings with concerned citizens, recorded their suggestions & then discussed all the future plans with the concerned citizens. He had even put notice board in Vaccine depot inviting the suggestions & based on the suggestions from citizens plans for development has been prepared.He has also assured that not a single tree will be cut nor nature will be disturbed. When I detailed him about the concern of the people who have expressed various views through All about Belgaum & through the various forums, he welcomed their suggestions & called a meeting of all the concerned citizens , nature lovers, morning walkers to express their views on vaccine Depo & study the plan of development. The meeting is scheduled on this Sunday at 7 AM in Vaccine institute, glass house & I hereby request you all to present & discuss the issue. Shri Abhay Patil, MLA has also assured that the heritage & natural beauty of Vaccine Depo will be preserved at any cost. Eco system will be further strengthened.Hope you all will present for the meeting & help the cause . Thanks

  10. Vaccine Depot is a large green belt in the heart of city. Its better to maintain status co on Vaccine depot. Authorities should focus more on beautifying and maintaining existing gardens/parks, govt primary schools, provide parking facilities and public toilets across city . Improve the water supply and drainage systems across the city. Plan on water conservation by reviving ponds, lakes and large wells across city. Fund water harvesting projects and solar energy projects in bus stations, railway stations and govt buildings.

  11. We have seen such development and so called beautification in Pune. Such parks are nothing but destruction of the pristine nature. Concretization of any form need not to take place. Taljai Hill , Parvati Hill and others in Pune are the recent examples of destruction in the name of beautification, park and development.

    Pune has done mistake and we don’t have option than regretting and protecting remaining parts. So do not repeat such things in your city if you want life at peace.

    I know Belgaum let’s come together to protect nature and say NO to any such project. Once destruction takes place its permanent and there is no way you can reverse it. It’s a big loss to ecology , water resources and what not. Let’s keep it in its natural form as a forest only.


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