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.
One 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.
Already 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?