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Plant a sapling to support life

The Hero-TOI Green Drive held in Ahmedabad recently will help people live in a calming and healthy environment, say spiritual masters who participated in the programme. RANJENI A SINGH reports

No experience matches the pleasure of planting saplings with your own hands and then watching them mushroom into a thriving woodland — a place that provides shade, flowers and fruits, and offers an environment for insects, birds and animals.

Trees ensure that we have fresh air to breathe — that we all so sorely need. With ‘Plant a breath of fresh air for everyone’ as the theme, the Hero-TOI Green Drive sowed the idea of change in Ahmedabad on August 12. Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani inaugurated the drive to plant 1.3 lakh trees at the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (Auda) Green Zone in Bhat and on the cloverleaf interchange in Adalaj on SG Road. Urging everyone to take part in the event, Rupani said that trees are like Shiva — they take all the poison that human activities generate and give life in return.

Spiritual masters and volunteers from several organisations, school children, and green enthusiasts planted saplings with great enthusiasm.

The first to arrive were about 200 volunteers from the Brahma Kumaris led by Sister BK Nandini. Soon, they covered a quarter of the ground, planting sapling after sapling. BK Nandini said that to sustain such campaigns, youth and children should be encouraged to participate.“Youth should be trained to take care of plants so that they understand and imbibe the concept of nurturing and caregiving,” she said. Swami Adhyatmananda, president, Sivananda Ashram, Ahmedabad, not only planted saplings, but also went around collecting the plastic wrappers that the saplings had come in, to dispose of them responsibly.“Trees protect life, provide hope and ensure eternity of mankind. Tree plantation is an essential need of the hour, not only for ecology but also for human psychology. If you plant one tree, you are providing boarding and lodging for hundreds of birds and insects,” he said.

He advised people to ensure that they plant those trees that welcome birds and animals and not those that repel them. “Birds don’t nest in saptaparni and eucalyptus trees. If you are not sure which tree to choose, plant bakul; besides providing nesting places for birds, every part of the tree is useful for mankind,” said Swami Adhyatmananda. He added that the Green Drive will help people to live in a calming and healthy environment.

Altogether, some 3,000 volunteers planted more than 35,000 saplings at the Bhat site on the first day. On the cloverleaf interchange at Adalaj, 7,000 saplings were planted by 800 volunteers. This year, the Hero-TOI Green Drive will see over 5 lakh trees being planted in Delhi, Chennai, Nagpur and Dehradun.

Enthused by the campaign, many people living outside Ahmedabad also participated in the drive. Navneet and Kiran Kabra had come all the way from Bhavnagar to plant trees. They said though people are aware of the benefits of planting trees, it is hard to shake off their apathy — one key reason why they do not ever become active participants. They suggested using social media to spread the green message and to pull people out of their comfort zones.

Acharya Dharman Brahmachari, the Ahmedabad chapter head of Ananda Marga who had come with a large number of followers, recited prayers before planting each sapling. According to the acharya, the humancentric philosophy of Ananda Marga helps foster love and respect for all, irrespective of race, nationality or culture. Explaining the significance of reciting prayers before planting a tree, he said “the exercise helps create a sentient environment.”

Young Paramdham Dasa of Iskcon, Ahmedabad, who came with a group of some 80 young volunteers from AIKYA, the youth wing of the Akshyapatra Foundation, said that such green campaigns should continue until planting trees and nurturing them becomes a habit.“We forget that we do not own nature, rather nature owns us. By planting trees and taking care of them, we are expressing our gratitude to nature.”

Bhikhabhai Amin, secretary of the Sanghkaya Foundation, Gandhinagar, said planting trees is our little gesture of giving back to nature. “The act of planting a sapling is like giving birth to a child. Anyone who plants a tree will never harm it, as the emotion of caregiving — mamta — takes root within.”

Earlier, welcoming green enthusiasts, Sanjeev Bhargava,director-brands, TOI, said,“Environment pollution is deadlier than other current crises. One of the solutions to environment problems is planting trees.”He said nature has been spoilt by sceptics, who sit behind closed doors and think they can’t do anything and lament that it’s a lost cause, but there are many people out there on the ground who are making things happen, and we need to increase their tribe.”

The Hero-TOI Green Drive has come a long way since 2015, when it was first launched by Times Of India and Hero MotoCorp in Tilpath Valley in Delhi. Neela Hauz was the second biodiversity park that the campaign had created with mass plantation of trees. Later, the drive moved beyond Delhi to Indore and Chandigarh, where over 55,000 people joined the mission and planted over 2 lakh trees. Nearly 1,500 school kids participated in the drive.

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