Sunday, March 30, 2008
So runs the latest post by eco-preneur Ashwin Upadhyaya in his blog. Along with his collegemate (in SJCE) Anil Kumar A S, he is poised to open a green-shop in Mysore. Their mantra is in this sticker design:Anil and Ashwin want to try tree-planting as a buisness model, with no illusion about their company turning out to be a money-spinner any time soon. But then if the boys were after money, they wouldn't have given up their cushy software jobs, to try something socially responsible in their own town.
Sapgreen's first customers - Vaishnavi and Sandeep - planting in a public park (right); and company CEO Ashwin watering the plant...More in his blog.
Ashwin's contact details, here.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The City of Amsterdam, which had initially planned to chop it, has now reached an agreement with conservationists on the measures to be taken to preserve the tree.
The plan is to build, by May-end , a metal supporting structure around the tree, enabling it to remain standing, for five to ten years. The Anne Frank Tree Foundation is funding the conservation measures. The flexible support structure, designed by architects and engineers, will hold the trunk in place in case it were to give way and crack down , but it will not be in direct contact with the tree, so its growth will not be impeded. The status of the tree will continue to be monitored by a group of tree specialists.Photo, published in Spiegel, shows ropes slung from the tree to the building where Anne Frank. with her family,was in hiding from the Nazis till 1944.
Like most others the world over, I was touched by the concern and commitment of the people and authorities in Holland to preserving all that is associated with Anne Frank. In a sense, they are responding to the Anne’s urge “to go on living after my death”. In a way, Holland seem to be comforting Anne Frank, whose infatuation with Nature is reflected in her writings. ”Go outside, to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go and go try to recapture happiness in yourself and in God. Think of all the beauty, that is still left in and around you and be happy (Tuesday, 7 March, 1944)…Is there anything more beautiful in the world than to sit before an open window and enjoy nature, to listen to the birds singing” -----(Wednesday,19 April, 1944)
Here was a Jewish teenager, recording her impressions so vividly, subsisting under extraordinary conditions, as Anne Frank did, - going into hiding, celebrating her thirteenth and fourteenth birthday, cloistered in an old building, cut off from outside world, facing hunger, boredom, and cruelties of living in confined quarters , with the ever present threat of being found out by Nazis. Anne died in the ghastly concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen in Germany, ( where the Frank Family was packed off from Holland ) in March 1945, two months after Holland was freed, and three months before what would have been her sixteenth birthday.
Anne Frank survives not only between the covers of a small red checkered cloth-covered classic - The Diary of Anne Frank -, but in the memorials that have come up in Holland, thanks to the Anne Frank Foundation and the people of Holland.
They are worthy of emulation by people all over the world. Here is a nation , transcending barriers of regionalism and racism, that endeavors to preserve the shining nobility of that great spirit, Anne Frank.
Visit to the Anne Frank museum and the house where she was hiding has been a moving experience, say the visitors who stand in front of Anne’s statue in hushed silence. The Montessori School in Amsterdam where she studied is now Anne Frank School. There are memorials in Germany and Israel also to atone for the unsung grave at Belsen.
In reflection in our Mahan Bharat, how many of those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of the Nation, or those whose writings enriched our lives have memorials built for them, leave alone their heritage, by way of a tree or lake with which their memories are associated, preserved ?
Cross posted: Blog-Krishna Vattam
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
He suggests honge and kas-kas are conducive to roadside planting in residential areas. In front of his house at Vidyaranyapuram Mr Rao has a honge that he planted seven years back. He devotes to it the care and affection he gives to his grandchild; his roadside honge gets periodical check-up and ‘hair-cut’ by expert tree-pruner Mr Hyder Ali Khan. The roadside honge owes its growth to Mrs Gowri Rao, who nursed it during the plant's initial year, as work and social activities often took Mr Rao away from Mysore. But then Gowri, being daughter of a forest official, has natural affinity to trees.
Mr Khan’s expert hands have nursed the rows of trees in front of the Nanjangud temple, Mysore’s Idgha Maidan, at Shantala Talkies and several other places. If he is not more widely known, it is because Mr Khan is not in on promotional trappings of the digital era – he doesn’t run a website; doesn't even have an e-mail ID. Mr Khan's cell number – 98451 59067.
Mr Rao, who has spent much of his working life at irrigation reservoir sites all over Karnataka, is familiar with tree-planting, which is taken up by the department on canal embankments and staff townships near dams and reservoirs. He recalled the guidance they got from a retired forest department officer, Mr Ellappa Reddy, who used to visit dam sites and canals and recommend the types of trees suited to their soil and site conditions. Mr Rao, who has been inspired by Salumara Thimmakka, never tires of relating her quote - Manegondu mara, wardinge ondu vana.
Mr Rao's contact mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, March 24, 2008
Someone from the company that made the offer is quoted as saying, when it comes to saving tress Bangaloreans keep talking but do little or nothing. Doesn’t this apply to us, in Mysore, as well? One of our young tree lovers asked me the other day, FORT-Mysore blog is coming up well but when do we get to see some action. I had no immediate answer.
As for tree-transplant, apart from needing big money, it works only in 60 percent cases, they say. It doesn’t take much debating to realize that tree-transplant, at Rs.90,000 per tree, is clearly not an option for us in India, unless we are talking about saving an odd celebrity tree with heritage value.
In most cases where a tree has to go for legitimate reasons, a more feasible option would be to evolve a replacement ratio – planting so many new saplings to compensate for each tree that is sacrificed. The number would be in proportion to the age of the axed tree. The company that offered transplant can be persuaded to plant new saplings along the widened road or some place else in the city.
The Bangalore Mirror gives some insight on our official mindset. A retired forest officer S G Neginhal, who had in his days planted trees all over the city,is quoted as saying that officials in BDA, the Metro or the city corporation “don’t apply their minds; they talk of concrete and metal; and it’s tough to convince them”.
Leo Saldanha of the Environmental Support Group: “The forest dept. isn’t fighting hard enough to protect trees….the tree officer has admitted that he is under severe pressure from officials above”.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Excerpts from his letter to SoM , published on March 22:
When I was in Lucknow, the Municipal authorities encouraged house owners to maintain a green patch and maintain flower beds in front of their houses so that it presents a grand appearance. This seems a good move if there are wide footpaths. Nowadays with spaces shrinking due to various reasons, there is a need to come out with a specific policy.
We have seen in Mysore the Municipal authorities suddenly go on a spree of clearing the footpaths of such lovely patches and it must be heart-rending for the owners who have tended them so lovingly for years. All this could be avoided if the citizens are forewarned about their rights and limitations.
Though roadside trees provide much-needed shade, it may become a nuisance, depending upon the type of trees; some endanger the safety of the house if it is grown near its foundation. All these details need to be kept in mind when coming up with a policy of planting trees.
Another aspect to be kept in mind is the presence of overhead electric wires. In such cases specifying the type of trees is essential as they should not cut off streetlights. In these days of health consciousness combined with pollution, thought may be bestowed on planting a particular type of tree which has a beneficial medicinal effect when people walk below it. The breeze wafted from such trees, I am informed, has beneficial effect on people suffering from asthma and other breathing problems.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I would like to share my experience about sapling plantation. It was in the year 2004, I started in my present house from Jun onwards. Because of the construction work, a lot of leftover materials were lying within and outside the house. I got four truck loads of waste material removed from the opposite side of the house. The whole roadside looked ugly with the growth of wild bushes. Since I was busy with organising an international conference at
When I thought of extending plantation of green hedge plants, some of the flowering plants and croton, my neighbors also took interest and asked me for some help. We knew a gardener who readily agreed to plant the saplings along the houses of at least five neighbors. The sixth one took the cue and got some saplings planted in front of his house himself. In the meantime, several early morning walkers who were observing the growth of these plants removed a few stealthily. The more I planted the more they removed. I could only console myself by thinking that the plant has after all gone to someone else's house!
After seeing the
Watering is a big task. It takes at least 45 min daily to water these plants. I stopped my morning walks but do not regret since this is also a good exercise to keep oneself fit.
While it is true that these saplings are planted on the Municipal land, it is equally true that we are helping the corporation in keeping the roadsides beautiful, neat and clean.
How I wish the authorities encourage people to plant saplings in front of their houses as to make this beautiful green! If they encourage them to plant saplings of
Thursday, March 20, 2008
During Seshadri Iyer’s period Swami Vivekananda visited Mysore and stayed at a place behind the Dewan’s mansion, constructed in 1878. Opposite the Dewan’s place was the residence of M. Venkatakrishnayya, the ‘Thatayya’ of Mysore.
(Opposite the sidegate (which has become a garbage dump for folks working at the commercial tax office) of Dewan's house(right)is another heritage building - Manipal House(left). Its info. board doesn't mention who was its occupant.Could this have been Thatayya's residence, Mr Gouri Satya?)
A staunch critic of the Dewan, the grand old man (Thatayya) founded a number of educational and other institutions and pioneered journalism in Mysore.
This stretch of the Seshadhri Iyer Road, now known as Dewan’s Road, had rows of Jacaranda trees on either side. In the flowering season they presented a refreshing sight.With beautiful bell-shaped blue flowers, these tall trees offered an endearing sight. The fallen flowers spread a lovely carpet on the ground. One would avoid walking on them lest one trampled them.
After the raj-era, the road began to witness a change, more so when the town planning authority declared it a commercial road. Government and private agencies took possession of the residential bungalows to set up their offices. The ‘obstructing’ Jacarandas began to disappear.
Over the years, an aged and bent Jacaranda in front of the dewan's bungalow was protruding towards the road. Before long the powers that be decided that the tree must go.Like so many other huge avenue trees that face the brutal axe to accommodate the increase in traffic, this solitary Jacaranda disappearered into the unwritten pages of history -- none to grieve, none to pay homage. (We took up the photo assignment, to go with the Mysore Samachar write-up, primarily,in the hope of finding any tell-tale evidence to remind us of the axed jacaranda in front of the Dewan's Rd. No luck.)
Excerpted from Mysore Samachar, with permission from its editor Gouri Satya. The Samachar website doesn't mention the date of publication. The photos that go with the piece were taken on March 20.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Moringa leaves are one of the richest sources of essential nutrients often lacking in people’s diets. They even contain all of the essential amino acids, which is unusual for a plant source. Experts agree that the long-term solution to malnutrition is the use of foods rich in the essential nutrients often lacking in people’s diets.
Moringa leaves provide two times the protein of yogurt,
seven times the vitamin C in oranges,
three times the potassium in bananas,
four times the vitamin A in carrots
and four times the calcium in milk.
From The Hindu: Now science is only confirming it
How to grow MoringaMoringa trees grow easily from seeds or cuttings. They grow quickly even in poor soil and bloom 8 months after planting...More...
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Wonder what his grudge is, the one on the right. Some trees stay out of step with peers. They are yet to start leafing, while others are flowering. Gulmohar, they say, sheds leaves in summer, a time when we most need its shade.This one, close to DC's office, sheds its flowers, lending colour to the dull brown top soil. Municipal sweepers don't have the heart to sweep it off.
Flowers on this tree are rarely allowed to fall to the floor. They are plucked right off the tree by poachers who masquerade as morning walkers.
There are trees that flower blue (poor shot); and white (right)A naked beauty, at JLB Rd. government guest house, I guess.
Bougainvile at King's Court, JLB Rd., and (right) Ambegal Krishna temple, Chennepatna.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
An eye-pleasing view of the tree-lined JLB Rd. as we come out of the railway station. If we cast our eyes to the right of this avenue we see (below) this wasted space that could do with some tree cover. Presumably, this is railway land.
Tree-planting is evidently not in the railway scheme of things. But they could allow others to do the planting on railway land, subject to certain norms and procedures, of course. I have in mind green-minded tourists who wish to mark their visit to this heritage city by planting a sapling. And the authorities could designate suitable tree-plantable space in the vicinity of the railway station.
As I took these pictures I thought, here is a job cut out for our budding ecopreneurs – Ashwin Upadhaya and Anil Kumar – who seek to promote tree-plantation in the city, not as charity but as business. SJCE alumni, both went out of Mysore - Ashwin, to Bangalore; and anil, to NOIDA - for a couple of years; only to return to Mysore, where want to set up a green company. They are not after big money, though they would like to make a decent living, while pushing their green agenda. As Anil puts it, working this out as an NGO isn’t always an effective and the most efficient way to green our city. Anil articulates in his blog the rationale for their choosing the business mode. He however has no illusions about the problems ahead. And I find Anil and Ashwin are open to ideas, however farfetched they might sound.
Here is a thought they could consider. Karnataka’s Golden Chariot comes to town on Tuesdays, bringing with it scores of high-end tourists. We could line up a brief tree-planting ceremony for them, at which each visitor plants a sapling. Besides being a nice experience, the tourists can take back, as souvenir, a green certificate carrying a photo of their planting a sapling during the Mysore visit. This would be a nice goodwill gesture on the part of the luxury tour hosts – The Mapple Group; or they could bill the green certificates to interested tourists.
I wonder what Ashwin(right)and Anil make of it. Or is this an idea that is easier written than worked out?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Chroniclers of the distant past wrote about the rulers of our land planting trees. Contemporary historians have plenty to write about present rulers. Tree-planting will certainly not figure in their records. On the other hand, references to Bangalore and Mysore may mention about large scale uprooting of full grown roadside trees for myriad reasons. Trees, planted decades ago, have been made to pay a heavy price by civilisation. Even trees that had stood for decades on the high-ways connecting the two cities have been brought down.
Laws are in place restricting vandalism of trees in general, particularly those in public places. Maybe, there is no law against any citizen planting trees on roadsides. Some are of the view that it is inadvisable to plant trees without the concurrence of the authorities. There is the issue of encroachment of public places such as the footpath. In addition, hardly anyone is clear on how to go about tree-planting. The officials too may not know if they are authorised to issue formal permits. However, they have been permitting themselves to uproot roadside trees in thousands.
It will be a great help if the civic authorities declare the tree policy. That should contain guidelines on tree-planting on roadsides. It should also spell out the names of preferred species and those that are to be avoided for greening the environment inside and outside the cities. Even the spacing of trees between them and also between the road and the tree should be specified based on scientific factors and logic. Planting trees in our enthusiasm under high-tension wires and electric lines should be avoided. The village folk have apparently resolved all these issues without any hassles.
The State has the distinction of having been served by luminaries in the Department of Horticulture. One such personality was Dr. M.H. Mari Gowda, its first Director, who is regarded as the Father of Horticulture in Karnataka as well India. August 8, his birthday, is observed as Horticulture Day. The occasion is the best opportunity to rekindle the interest in horticulture, including Social Forestry engulfing roadside tree-planting among both officials and the public at large.
Another legendary personality who took to tree-planting as her life's mission is Saalumarada Thimmakka of Hulikal village in Bangalore district. Honoured with the National Citizen Award for the lifetime achievement to sustain environment through tree-planting, she chose to plant Banyan trees in lieu of children, being issueless. She may be chosen as the logo for the State's project on planting roadside trees.
Lastly, the different wings of the government, namely Public Works Department, Electricity Department, City Corporation, Urban Development Authority, Telecom Department and others must be restrained from resorting to uprooting of roadside trees for reasons not quite convincing but must be allowed to uproot whenever necessary, specially when these trees are hazardous to motorists and electricity lines.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wouldn’t it be helpful, if the civic authorities declare their tree policy? Publicise their guidelines for roadside tree-planting? People could do with guidance on preferred species for palnting; specifications regarding the gap to be left between plants;and between a plant and the road edge.
The gap between trees here, on JLB Rd, is 10 to 12 steps.
At this newly planted stretch the gap between saplings is 15 to 20 steps.
Journalist and tree-lover Krishna Vattam says such guidelines were there during the days of Maharajas, particularly when Mysore was under Dewan Mirza Ismail. Horticulture authorities those days had it all worked out, down to the mapping of the types of trees that suited various localities. For instance, the horticulture department had planted, in and around Bannimantap and along the Jumbo savari route, certain variety of trees that flowered during Dasara season.
Mr Gouri Satya, another senior journalist, helpfully guided us to a feature on Mysore’s avenue trees that appeared in Mysore Samachar.
Avenue trees on JLB Rd, close to the railway station.
Today, people who plant trees on their roadside do so at their own risk. The city corporation would do well to publish tree-planting guidelines on its official website for the benefit of those who wish to plant on roadside and public parks. Instead of having to go through the rigmarole of getting the relevant application form and filing it in duplicate to secure municipal approval, public-spirited residents should be able to download from the website official guidelines, and also the format for a compliance report, to be sent, online, after they plant the saplings. Isn’t this what e-governance is all about?
Compliance report filed by residents should furnish details of the trees they have planted, the number, variety and location of the saplings. Such information would help Mysore City Corporation keep a record of the trees planted in town at citizens initiative. The data can be published in the city’s official website.
MCC’s permission however may not protect us against threats from other departmental road-diggers - public works dept. on road-widening work, the power supply and telephone people, the traffic police and those who lay underground sewage pipe.
Gokulam resident Mr A Madhavan, who had planted in front of his house a neem and honge well over a decade back with forest dept. help, says it is necessary to collaborate with them on the choice of trees to plant and on how to take care of them. “We can get better results by avoiding an attitudinal polarity vis-à-vis the government, which sometimes develops”, says Mr Madhavan.
He suggests we consult neighbours (we ourselves are neighbours to someone else) before planting on roadside. There is a danger in planting trees too close to the compound wall. He wouldn’t recommend gulmohar. It has shallow roots, he says, referring to the one in front of his gate that has its roots ruining his drive-way. And then there was this departmental bulldozer that suddenly showed up a couple of weeks and demolished some frontage cement drives, luckily, sparing the trees.
Dr.YNI Anand, who has persuaded his neighbours in Kevempunagar to plant on their roadside, would recommend Honge, Neem, Tachoma and other flowering trees that look beautiful during the season. Only hitch is the risk of someone stealing flowering plants. Dr Anand had saplings of crotons and the green hedge (worth over Rs.500) stolen from roadside in front of his house. This however didn’t deter or dishearten him from re-planting them. His point is that the samplings stolen from his street would have, anyway, been planted some place else.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
These organizations and Institutions conduct various functions in which the chief Guest inaugurates a function by normally lighting a lamp. While this is a good practice, how about planting a sapling to commemorate the function? This will be especially applicable to Silver jubilee or Golden Jubilee functions or visit of a leading leader/ scientist / industry’s titan etc. If we cultivate the habit of Tree planting to mark an event and this practice catches on, it could indeed spark a movement of sorts wherein Kalamandira, Rangayana, CII, University, Krishna Gana Sabha can have trees planted by famous musicians, scientists, leaders in their surroundings while participating an event.The visit of the dignitary and the function itself has an everlasting impact. It is much easier to maintain such plants under the care of reputed organizations.
This is an area wherein FORT sees a good possibility. Even the hosts organizing an event and guest of honour would not be averse to the idea. FORT could play an important buffer in this regard.
Last week, I visited the place to have a look at what was going on now. I found that plantations were already being done a large stretch of the land.
Although this tree is projected as a solution for our future energy needs, no one really knows the long term implications of such large scale plantations. The seeds are toxic in nature and 4 seeds can be lethal to a child. Seed cakes of jatropha are known to contain toxicity and not suitable for cattle feed and fertilizer. Unless proper and systemic studies are completed to ascertain its agronomic and environmental impact, jatropha will always be seen as an unknown evil.
And to think that such a plantation is being done in an area meant for tuberculosis patients!! A better solution for this area would have been fruit trees. This would have been a sustainable way of afforestation and would also have served the patients.