A chill in the air, beautiful mist in the mornings this is that time of the year which Hyderabadis look forward to. But it doesn’t stay for long. In another month or so, sweltering heat and humidity are going to force many into the cool comforts of their homes.

Air-conditioners that had been put off for long will whirr into life, coolers will be huffing and puffing while battling the heat to keep the room cool, and the electricity meter too will be busier than ever, clocking costly unit by unit.

Here’s where one has to start thinking about cutting down power bills, and also, to give a thought on the impact of air-conditioners on the environment. Go green? Good idea. But do you have the space?

With shrinking land space and cities turning into concrete jungles, rooftop gardening would be the right choice. Though there is no rocket science involved, with not much of investment either, many still are averse to rooftop gardening.

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As towering structures mushrooming all over the city, space is definitely a big challenge in the city. On the government perspective, many initiatives, especially Haritha Haram programmes are being taken up but a lot more needs to be done to increase the green cover in the city and rooftop gardening is one of the best and effective ways.

“According to rough estimates, there is availability of nearly 50,000 acres of roof top in the city. Commercial buildings, residential apartments, houses and other structures should develop their own roof top gardens helping in improvement of urban environment in the city, apart from their benefits to the individuals,” says V Krishna, GHMC Additional Commissioner (Urban Biodiversity).

By adding more greenery, significant amounts of pollution and dust can be filtered out of the air, besides aiding in heat-trapping effects. More importantly, with agricultural areas being lost, the need for fertilizer-free, homegrown and economical vegetables will be increasing drastically in the future. Rooftops can be developed into social and recreational spaces and used for urban agriculture, he explains.

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“Rooftop gardens look good, present a soothing impact on eye and can be a quiet retreat in the home,” says Krishna. Experts suggest that government can make rooftops gardens mandatory for commercial structures while approving building permissions and offer some rebate in property tax for residential apartments as a means to increase green cover.

In addition to limited space, lack of awareness among many people is another constraint in developing rooftops. Though, government institutions like the State Horticulture department and other organisations are conducting workshops on rooftop gardening, besides offering the required equipment, tools and seeds on subsidy, a lot more needs to be done in promoting the concept, he adds.

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Compared to Bengaluru and Chennai, Hyderabad is still way behind in rooftop gardening or cultivating vegetables on the terrace or in the open spaces. There are not many experienced and professional agencies, which can guide building owners properly in taking up rooftops, points out Bharath Kumar Reddy of Nativus Farms, which deals in terrace gardening and other services.

Depending on the materials, rooftop gardening can be set up spending about Rs.250 to Rs.300 per sq.ft. Many people rely on social media and try out different methods of rooftop vegetable cultivation or gardening and at times get disappointed with failures. It does not require much time or money, one needs to be patient and the results can bring in lot of joy and happiness, he adds. #KhabarLive

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