Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Love that grows: tree saplings as rakhi gift

On Rakhi, to protect the environment, the women in Fazilka will receive saplings as gift from brothers. The Graduates Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF) is behind this mission. "On Rakhi, all sisters in Fazilka will get a tree sapling each as gift from brothers," GWAF secretary Navdeep Asija stated here on Tuesday. "We hope it helps the community bond with the environment, besides family."

Third Anand Utsav, annual environment festival of the GWAF, Punjab forest department Punjab, and Zamindara Farmsolutions, will open on Raksha Bandhan. This year, its organisers plan to plant 10,000 tree saplings. The young trees are hauled on board two "green ambulances" or transformed cycle rickshaws that on Thursday forest and wildlife minister Surjit Jiyani will flag off from the Badha wetland.

Fazilka's total urban area of 10.4 square kilometres has a green cover of less than 0.5%. Of more than 3,500 tree saplings planted in the last two editions of the festival, 2,200 have survived, mainly on the outskirts.

Under the "Dial-a-Tree" project opened in Fazilka last year, people can order free-of-cost tree saplings on telephone by calling one of the green ambulances. The rickshaws take saplings to their door. "The men pulling the rickshaws are trained green warriors, carrying the knowledge of a variety of trees, besides manure, cutters, and trenching equipment," said Vikram Ahuja of Zamindara Farmsolutions. "They will even take care of your existing trees and remove any signs nailed into the trunk. The men will plant the trees and receive an undertaking from the receiver about protecting and take care of the gift."

Punch a helpline number and the tree is delivered within 24 hours of the request. "People are aware of the need to protect the environment but too busy to plant trees," said Dr Bhupinder Singh, patron of the GWAF.

"They also don't know from where to source saplings, manure, and manpower. The 'Dial-a-Tree' service is solution to that problem. Call us once and we bring the tree to you, provided you agree to protect it." The GWAF will seek help from the army for the mass plantation of trees in Fazilka.

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