Kolkata’s Vertical Gardens for a Cleaner Air

December 17, 2018 Environment , India , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER



Samrat Dey



Around the World


Mexico City’s busiest highway is being converted into more than 600,000 square feet of vertical gardens. This initiative will convert more than 1,000 concrete pillars of the elevated highway into vertical gardens to improve the air quality and produce more oxygen.


These gardens will suck up more than 27,000 tons of harmful gases, capture more than 11,000 pounds of dust and utilize rainwater to keep more than 500,000 plants alive. The plants will use all the elevated highway surfaces to capture rainwater. This water will be cleaned and reused in a combination with grey water to irrigate the vertical gardens.


The plants are not being grown on soil. The project is using recycled plastic bottles to develop a specific felt which has the same density as soil and the plants are being grown on them. Highways are being turned into vertical gardens in Germany, Japan, US and France as well.


Vertical forest residential towers at Milan, Italy has ambitious plans to plant 3 million new trees by 2030 which officials say will absorb around 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year (4/5th of total Carbon Dioxide content of Milan).






Kamal Meattle’s Ground Breaking Discovery


27 years ago researcher Kamal Meattle became allergic to Delhi’s air and his lung capacity had gone down to 17%. He soon discovered with his team of researchers that there are three common green plants with which we can grow all the fresh air we need:  Areca Palm, Mother in Law’s Tongue and Money Plant. These plants convert Carbon dioxide to Oxygen even during night. They can also reduce the indoor fresh air requirements into the building while maintaining indoor industry air quality standards. These plants have been tried and tested for 15 years in his 20 year old, 50,000 square feet building with 1,200+ occupants. The Government of India has also found it to be the healthiest building in New Delhi. These plants also increase human productivity by at least 20% and a reduction of energy requirement in buildings by at least 15%.






It’s High Time to Act – Especially In Kolkata


Life expectancy in Kolkata has been cut short by 6 years as the city dwellers breathe three times more polluted air than the permissible limit. There has been a 61% rise in particulate matters since 2013, 70% of the city’s population suffer from respiratory disorders due to pollution and 42,000 people may develop some form of cancer soon. As of 10th December 2018, breathing the air of North Kolkata itself was equal to smoking 22 cigarettes a day.


Kolkata’s average AQI (air quality index) has gone above 400 since November, 2018


Normal AQI range 0-100

Poor – Above 250

Severe – 401-500

Fine particles 2.5 are the chief contributor to worsening AQI.


Prolonged exposure to such polluted air can cause:


  • Asthma
  • Allergy
  • Heart Diseases
  • Brain Stroke
  • Lung Cancer







NKDA’s Vertical Gardens


In the meantime, New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) has chalked out a unique plan of putting up flower pots to set up green vertical gardens on metro rail pillars as part of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ‘Save Green and Stay Clean’ project. This project is the only of its kind in India. According to NKDA officials the vertical gardens will not only increase the green cover of New Town but will add more value to the ambience of the area. Mayor, Firhad Hakim, also the State Urban Development and Municipal Affairs ministers has said that his prime work in the city will be to increase greenery. Nurseries have also come up in New Town and those who will maintain trees will be rewarded.






The Vertical Gardens of iLEAD, Kolkata  


To combat the issue of air pollution in Kolkata from iLEAD, India’s premiere media and management institute, its Chairman, Mr Pradip Chopra and iLEAD students and employees have been actively involved in the creation of Vertical Gardens which can drastically improve air quality. Vertical spaces can be converted into vertical gardens at very affordable cost using saplings and discarded pet bottles. To make these gardens, disposable plastic bottles, hazardous for environment are carved into holders/vases. One after another the bottles are converted to great plant vases, fitted together and lined on a wall outside or inside the building. Sufficient soil with saplings planted on them is then placed inside the bottles through the carved gaps. These gardens also act as a heat barrier to reduce harmful solar radiation.



My father has been a diabetes patient. The city’s AQ caused a lung infection which led to other complications in the kidney. Vertical Gardening is a crusade against air pollution and I thank Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee, Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, NKDA, iLEAD Chairman, Mr Pradip Chopra and iLEAD students and staff to take the life saving initiative of Vertical Gardening.” – Author  





Samrat Dey

Samrat Dey is currently an Editor and Faculty of Media Science at iLEAD. He also dabbles with guitar and songwriting. A B.SC Major in Mass Communication and Videography from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and a Master in Communication from Christ University, Bangalore, he has worked with The Telegraph, Explocity Pvt Ltd, Times Internet Limited in various profiles that revolve around reporting, editing, information and data management. He also received the Aspire Award from The Times Group.

Editor review


  1. Deepak Halder December 19, at 17:03

    It is a splendid and noble effort to reduce air pollution which is alarming like global warming to earth.I salute to respected Pradeepji. Deepak

  2. Anup Dalmia December 18, at 14:55

    Our City Needs Clean Air this is a Great indicative taken By Ilead we Wholeheartedly support This Noble Cause Anup Dalmia President Reca -Kolkata

  3. Anup Dalmia December 18, at 14:53

    Great Ineciative By Pradeep Sir and Ilead we Support This Cause with wholeheartedly Anup Dalmia President Reca -Kolkata


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