Monday, August 2, 2010

Green flash in Fazilka, `ambulances' out

Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar, Hindustan Times, 2 August 2010


In the tiny border town of Fazilka, a citizens' organisation has started an innovative green drive to provide saplings, along with services of trained gardeners, free of cost and on call. The scheme, `Diala-Tree', a brainchild of the Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF), was launched on Sunday at Anand Utsav, an annual GWAF initiative to spread awareness about environment.

Three `green ambulances' were launched for tree plantation, for replacing the dying saplings and for treating injured plants, which would be available on 9815184000.

"A local private firm, Zamindara Farm Solutions, and the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, have joined hands with us for the scheme," said Navdeep Asija, secretary (administration) of GWAF. "People want to plant trees; but lack of knowledge or technical flaws are hindrances. We are only trying to assist such people," said Vikram Ahuja of Zamindara.

Navdeep said an RTI query had revealed that the municipal authorities in Fazilka planted less than 800 trees in the past whole decade, of which only about 30 survived. "The 10-sq km town has only 0.5 per cent green cover," he added.

The association now plans to motivate people to plant trees on their birthdays or other special occasions. For bulk plantation at institutions, GWAF would ensure free supply of saplings till August 15, added Navdeep.

Chandrika Ahuja, coordinator of the project, said they had divided Fazilka into three zones and converted three rickshaws into `green ambulances'.

"Last year, during Anand Utsav, we planted more than 1,200 saplings, of which more than 600 survived; we made it possible through community participation. Our idea is not only to plant more saplings but to help trees grow with care", said Dr Bhupinder Singh, patron of GWAF.

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