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Jamshyd’s early memories of Pirojshanagar are of accompanying father Naval, in a convertible Buick and, later, a Herald, to Vikhroli and watching giant excavators, bulldozers and a fleet of heavily laden trucks sprawling all over the land like giant foraging insects, transforming the wasteland into what was to become the pride of Godrej and of the city, a giant industrial garden township.
Jamshyd also recalls going to the Pragati Kendra and participating in plays and functions: "In one play, I remember, I played a rabbit." During the monsoon they would go sailing. A boat would be kept ready, they would take it to the creek and come back after a full day’s picnic. But it wasn’t all fun and games.
As Jamshyd grew up and realised that one day it would all be his responsibility, he made a good beginning by working in the Tool Room during holidays.
For Pirojsha’s grandson Adi, who was already working in the soaps factory at Delisle Road, going to Vikhroli was a tremendous relief. The Delisle Road office was terribly congested. Fond as his father Burjor was of research, he was confined to conducting it in what was just a humble laboratory. There wasn’t even space for a conference room.
Vikhroli offered tremendous scope for improvement and expansion. Burjor was able to build a fully equipped and spacious Research and Development Centre. And a conference room to beat all conference rooms was also designed.
The Delisle Road factory was sold for about Rs. 50 lakhs. Even this amount was like an "invaluable" injection to the soap company which was struggling in those days.
Vikhroli in short was a major turning point in the Company’s growth cycle. Godrej were the only major factory at that time functioning outside of Mumbai. Vikhroli provided a much better environment, with the added attraction that being far away from the city, they were less inundated by visitors. As Adi wryly remarked, in India even invitations are handed over in person. He believes that the post and the telephone can be made to play a far greater role than they are now doing. No doubt in those early days telephone connections were not very good. But the connections have subsequently improved.
The Company expanded into diverse, highly profitable lines, including Gujarat Godrej Innovative Chemicals Ltd. and Godrej Foods.
The most amazing thing about Pirojshanagar is that occupying as it already does thousands of acres, it keeps growing. Having saved a congested city’s lungs, it is all set to capture the city’s heart with a brave new skyline in the Eastern suburbs. Just a few hundred metres from the Vikhroli Railway Station, spread over an area of 22 acres, a Garden Enclave Complex is being planned on which work has already started. The complex will have a cluster of nine towers (stilt + 20 floors) with an impressive frontage on the highway and the Godrej mangrove park. The complex will be surrounded by lush green landscaped gardens, water bodies and a variety of flowering trees. It will also include a commercial building, a shopping mall, a club and a hospital for the public, funded and managed by the Godrej Memorial Trust. Jamshyd has planned it to be on a no profit, no loss basis.
The endeavour is to make the township as self-contained as humanly possible. It will not be a burden on the Company since residents will be expected to bear the costs. The flats will be reasonably priced, within the reach of the middle-income group and will have amenities that are the boast of the finest complexes in the city. Work on two of the nine towers has already started. The buildings are expected to be completed by December 2003 and the entire project by 2007.
The survival rate of trees is high, largely because everyone here is conscious of the importance and the high value of trees. Beautifully manicured lawns sprawl right up to the doorsteps of industrial plants. Stately avenues of towering polyalthia and royal palms stand sentinel-like amidst this giant industrial complex. Flower beds abound in a profusion of multi-coloured blooms all year-round. Lily pools and waterfalls add to the beauty and freshness of the area. The speciality of Pirojshanagar is its roses in an extraordinary variety of shades, shapes and sizes. A well-tended plant nursery is the main Tree Bank supplying saplings to the voluntary groups promoting the greening of Mumbai.
The garden section has set up vermicomposting / composting of canteen and garden waste for converting into rich organic manure.
In addition to the greening efforts of the premises, the Company also supports and is actively involved with the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai in their efforts for beautifying the city. Presently the Company has developed 19 main traffic island gardens located at various places in the city. These include rock gardens, container gardening and French intensive gardening. Twenty additional gardens have also been developed at various other locations in Mumbai.