How often do you hear a police station become a space of inspiration for an entire community? Or a place of beauty, frequented by locals for its charm? Well, almost never. But the Changaramkulam police station in Kerala has a different story to tell, all thanks to Special Branch Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) TJ Albert.
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Dotted with a small garden and organic vegetables growing in columns, along with two charming fish ponds, the police station premises is indeed an idyllic space.
However, this wasn’t always the case.
“When I first came here, the station was surrounded by garbage dumps. It was extremely dirty and so I decided to take steps for change. As my family is from the fishing community of Mararikulam in Alappuzha, I have had some exposure in fish farming and decided to start with that. Also, I had seen some videos on Youtube where people utilised and upcycled the weirdest things for gardening, and that gave me the idea to reuse an old lorry as a pond, instead of digging the ground,” says Albert to The Better India.
The said lorry had been seized by the department due to illegal mining activities and had been lying around for months before Albert came up with the idea. After seeking the required permissions, he then removed all the sand from the truck and covered it with a tarpaulin. To transform it into a pond, he filled it up with water, fish and water lilies.
From red and white molly, silopi to guppies, Albert began to farm almost 8-10 varieties of ornamental fish in the pond. In order to make them look even more beautiful, he planted local white lotuses and yellow water lilies.
After farming them for almost a year, the truck was recently auctioned out and so the pond had to be shifted. “We dug up two ponds in the campus and transferred the plants and fish into the same. With larger space, they are now flourishing more,” he adds.
Owing to his efforts, many other police officials are now involved in the initiative, with the support of villagers in the surrounding areas.
There is always a sense of negativity or fear associated with police stations. People get a sense of hesitation to approach us in this space. But now it’s a welcoming spot for locals, a source of green inspiration! says Albert, who was recently transferred to the Ponnani Police station and is spreading this green magic there as well.
“My quarters are close to the Changaramkulam police station, so with the help of my wife I manage to take care of the ponds there. Meanwhile, I am also starting organic farming at Ponnani and hope that this will also be a big success like the previous one!” he concludes.
We hope his eco-endeavours soon bear fruit and more police stations and government offices embrace ideas of upcycling and organic farming and gardening in their premises.
(Edited Saiqua Sultan)