Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peoples initiative to Bring Back the Sparrows to Whitefield

Residents and Rotary club of whitefield Bangalore have a project where, in the immediate phase they plan to turn Whitefield green by planting 100,000 trees in a 22 sq km area and thereby make a major impact on the environment. And it is being implemented by 15 August, 2008.

Hundreds of residents in this 22 sq km area (skirted by the Outer Ring Road from Marathahalli till the suspension bridge, past the ITPL, down Hope Farm and along Airport-Varthur Road) have already begun to participate.
A hundred thousand trees have the ability to change entire eco systems. Here are four things we believe will happen:
  • Sparrows will return to Whitefield
  • Many species of butterflies will be back
  • The water table will rise
  • Carbon dioxide levels will be better managed

What are the residents expected to do:

  • Help identify areas for planting trees
  • Be part of the awareness campaign
  • Get involved in collecting cash contributions (Rs. 100 per tree) that help plant the saplings and nurture them
  • Approach companies for their Involvement Work towards acquiring an adequate number of saplings
  • Be part of the tree plantation itself

more info here

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ugadi plants – three weeks on

It has been 21 days. And the saplings planted in a Vijayanagara public park are coming up well. Never mind MUDA’s yet un-kept promise to provide a waterline for the plants. The park has been dug up right through, awaiting pipe-laying and water connection that has to be given from an adjacent park. The contractor who did that job is said to be holding back, presumably, because MUDA has yet to settle his bills.

The mud-line dug through the park, awaiting water connection.

Sapgreen duo – Anil and Ashwin – who have been chasing officials reckon that the MUDA water pipeline would probably have to wait till the Karnataka assembly elections are over – “officials are busy with election work”. Some of us may be naïve enough to ask, ‘what has elections got to do with MUDA settling a contractor’s bill, for a job that has already been done?’

Anyway, watering of the Ugadi plants has gone on, thanks to enlightened benevolence of a resident close to the park; and the generous offer of Mr Ananthanarayan, principal of Anantha Geetha Vidyalaya to provide water. He is known in the neighbourhood as a tree-lover and has planted a row of trees on his school-front roadside.

Row of roadside trees in front of Anantha Geetha Vidyalala

During our visit to the park on Sunday we noticed a Sapgreen employee bringing pots of water from a tank at a nearby house construction site. And the Ugadi plants are being watered because of the benevolence of this resident. Hopefully, this arrangement can be kept in place till the third week of May when monsoon expected to set in.

Meanwhile, an elderly resident sitting with four friends on the concrete slab of a roadside culvert, took us to be city corporation officials. He said plant-and-forget has been the history of saplings planted in the park so far. Referring to our visit he said he had seen this happening (tree-planting) twice in earlier years; and the plants died for want of care. He chose to speak for the culvert sitters.

Anil told the skeptics that things would be different this time; and no tree would die. Unconvinced, the elderly resident observed that this was what they all said while planting. And after the ceremony and photo-taking they all disappeared, never to return. Here is a challenge for Anil and Sapgreen. The way to change their mind is proper upkeep of the plants in the park.

Mr Krishna Vattam, Mr E R Ramachandran, and I tried reasoning with the ‘culvert panchayat’, saying it was as much their responsibility as Sapgreen’s, if only because residents are the immediate beneficiaries of the tree-planting in the park. The spokesman of the group, still unconvinced, said such community involvement ‘worked only abroad’. He seemed to think that tree-care was the responsibility of those who plant them. He knew of Thimmakka, but reckoned that every one ‘can’t be so lucky with media and get the credit for what she did’.

Can anyone think of a better definition for cynicism? Anyway, if the ‘culvert panchayat’ was skeptical about this enterprising tree-planting effort, there were others in the locality whose complaint was that Sapgreen hadn’t done enough to create public awareness about their initiative. Prof. Kiran Kumar walking his dog around the park observed us from afar, tinkering with the saplings. We walked up to engaged him in tree-talk.

Tinkering with a three-week old neem in the park

That Prof. Kumar knew of Mr Vattam (with whom he had once shared the top table at a college function) helped matters. He readily volunteered to help Anil-Ashwin get in touch with other residents. Ashwin, who has already met Prof. Kumar, could count on him to further the green message in the area. Other things Sapgreen could try are:

1) Keep residents informed about Sapgreen’s tree-planting calendar. The company planted five more saplings in the park on Sunday (April 27), but none of the residents we spoke to were aware of the event.

2) Put up a signboard with the message – Saplings in this park, planted with Sapgreen’s help, are maintained by residents and the boys cricketing in the park.

3)Spread the message among nearby schools – Anantha Geetha, JSS and a couple of others – to encourage newly admitted students – LKG and primary classes – to plant saplings to mark the event. Their parents can watch their children growing with the trees they planted when they joined school.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Elections, sapgreen

In this blog i would like to talk on two things. One about elections and another thing about sapgreen status.

Somehow this time's election commission's strict rules alongwith the supreme court guidelines and sincere attempt by district administration, we are seeing that this election is turning out to be less harmful for GREEN. What i mean is that, more the plastic buntings, flex posters, plastic flags, more it is against the environment, and against green. I am happy that this time, we are not seeing much of these buntings which harm our environment. We have to surely remember the CEC Gopalaswamy. Well done sir.

My friend told me the sapgreen had finished planting some 160 saplings. This is a great number in a small time. Meanwhile i'm yet to plant my sapling through sapgreen. So we have to be happy that sapgreen project is on its way being successful.

I saw the plant database on sapgreen website. Some days ago i had seen only a spreadsheet of the tree database. Then i thought of this idea of using database and querry system. And the software guys have used their skills very very well. Kudos!

And a post on sapgreen says that now onwards a payment can be done through credit card. Great deal of course. Now anyone far from mysore can gift a tree through online payment. Online payment can be done through this page.

It is also a good news that sapgreen has been now associated with UNEP's plant billion trees project. Way to go ahead.

I was busy from 2 weeks with other works. I could not attend the planting drive organised on 20th of april.

Sapgreen is going in a great way. Being a company, revenue is very important. 160 saplings and 300 rupees per sapling means good revenue in short period.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Election costs

This gigantic structure serves no purpose now. Earlier, it held a 40 foot tall Kumaraswamy cutout. Thanks to strict election norms in Mysore district, he is no longer showcased there.

At least a dozen trees must have been felled for no purpose at all.

Save Trees. Trees Save.

I saw this ad and it made lot of sense.Trees help save lives too...

The Road to Prosperity

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Thing of beauty is a Joy for an Hour

Some time ago I had posted a blog about our roadside plants. Elaborating the same, I would like to start by saying that the plants are in full bloom and a lot of flowers beautify the road, just for an hour or sometimes, even less. I had mentioned that there exist many plant thieves. However, the number of flower thieves far exceeds their number.

These thieves come at all odd hours. I never believed in plucking flowers myself for use in our own God’s room till I realized that I may also pluck flowers from the garden nurtured by me when the entire world steals flowers without any qualm!

On one of the rare days, when no one had stolen flowers, I took some photographs. Included in the photos is a beautiful Lily (I do not know the name of the plant) globular in shape with multiple flowers within it. I was lucky to photograph the same. However, when I went back into the house for other jobs and returned after an hour the whole thing had vanished!

Similarly there is a very good yield of “Kanigale” flowers only to be stolen by others. The theft was even faster. My m-i-l was sitting in the verandah till 1 PM. I returned from my clinic at 1.30 PM. Within this half an hour, somebody had polished off the entire “Yield”! On another occasion, I went for work at 3.30 PM. By the time I returned at 4.30 PM, the entire yield had disappeared.

Once I happened to catch a thief red-handed. He was an elderly man, had no shame, remorse or any such feeling when I caught him. What is wrong if I pluck flowers when I am offering the same to God? – He asks me! I never knew that God loves stolen flowers more than those that were grown by the devotee or purchased by him! I took the bag from him, poured the lot over his head and asked him then to offer the same to God. Can you believe if I say that he picked up the whole thing and walked off? Only when I caught him for the second time and warned of serious consequences, he stopped walking in front of our house.

These thieves include people from all classes, age and sex no bar. Most of them are morning walkers carrying plastic bags in their hands. They land in front of your house long before you wake up and steal the flowers in a jiffy! Some of them even open the gates, enter the house premises and steal the flowers grown within the compound also. They teach their children the finer aspects of stealing flowers from somebody else’s house

There are other types of thieves called the “Commercial Thieves”. They are the small time flower vendors. They hunt for flowers since the price in anything between 10-20 Rs a meter. These stolen flowers easily add up to 3-4 meters in addition to the flowers purchased by them and thus they earn an “extra income” of about a thousand rupees a month. A good business indeed!

In the end, it is the flower grower who groans and is made to look foolish for having grown them to last for just an hour after blooming!

How-to and Where-to plant guidelines

Planting trees around your home will conserve energy and lower the cost of utility bills. Three well-placed deciduous (leaf-losing) trees on the east, south, and west sides of a home will shade it from summer sun and lower air conditioning costs by 10 to 50 percent. In addition to saving money, conserving energy directly translates to less carbon dioxide produced at the power plants.. .Read more on how to plant in American Forests website.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gulmohar in bloom

It is now bloom time for gulmohar.
These pictures(below)were taken a month back
At a triangular road-divide in front of Beden Powell school. Changing colour, to red from green, within a couple of weeks.

On sentry duty outside the Institute of Oriental Studies is this gulmohar, photoed over the last two weeks.

I have no excuse for the mismatch in placement of photos and captions other than saying I did my best.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The only world we've ever known

Today is Earth day.
Its not a day we celebrate. On the other hand, it is a day to think about our planet.
It is not a one day affair. It is a day we need to decide about our attitude towards our planet.
Watch this video to get a real perspective on the only world we have ever known.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Involving school kids in grow-with-trees drive

We have it from Anil Kumar that principal of a neighbourhood school, Anantha Geetha Vidyalaya, has helped Sapgreen water the 100 odd saplings they planted in a public park at Vijayanagara II on Ugadi day (April 7). The gesture of the school principal is noteworthy (what's princie's name, Anil,could you blog about him?), considering that some residents close to the park haven't been all that enthusiastic. Those who initially offered to take care of the plants appear to have lost interest; and one of them is said to have plainly refused, saying that Sapgreen, as a business venture, should pay for water.

The argument makes business sense, if we don't consider that there is public benefit in the business Anil and Ashwin pursue. And I would like to think that public-spirited individuals and groups have a vested interest in promoting the green business venture. FORT-Mysore have an enlightened self-interest in endorsing Sapgreen.

Anantha Geetha Vidyalaya has an enlightened school-head, with whom Sapgreen should work, to promote tree-planting culture among our school children. Every child that starts his/her schooling at A G Vidyalaya - from LKG or Std. I - should be encouraged by the school authorities to plant a sapling, so that children can see themselves growing with their trees. They could plant the saplings on the school premises or at their own backyards.Parents-teachers association could be involved in spreading the message. Ashwin and Anil would do well to request the principal to arrange class-room meetings with students, so that they can share their experience in tree-planting.

I know our senior colleague and tree-lover, Mr Krishna Vattam, has a standing invite to visit Anantha Geetha Vidyalaya. In the interest of the tree world Mr Vattam should accept this and also the many invitations he gets from other institutions, if only to push the grow-with-your-trees agenda among school children.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Welcome back to the trees, Anil

What have computers got to do with growing trees ? I couldn't see the connection till I read Anil's post - Am still away from trees. Anil Kumar is the marketing man in Sapgreen. With his company co-founder, Ashwin, the guys at this green-delivery start-up have evolved a business model for getting people to plant trees on public spaces. And no business venture nowadays can do without Internet communication - official website, online marketing, blogs vagaira....vagaira.
Snag is the Internet can be highly temperamental. Like an obstinate brat your computer would sulk in silence, and wouldn't give a clue as to how you can get the blessed thing listening to your key-board. And the 'witch-doctor' who can straighten out the system - software consultant - costs a packet. Sapgreen faced such a situation with its official website.
After months of googling, PHP codes, forms,secure form,testing (last few days have been hectic and I did develop few symptoms RSI...) we finished the site. And today I'm proud;we saved lot of money, thanks to Ravi, K* and K's sister Sapgreen is finally up and running.... More in his blog...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A status update

This is in response to GVKs post on the Ugadi saplings. After the saplings were planted, there have been no rains and it has been a major concern for us. The 'water pipeline works' like all government works has been too slow and is likely to take another week to complete. The people who earlier provided water now seem reluctant.

Watering was done daily from 7th till 14th. It has been 3 days since we last watered the plants. The soil just around the saplings though are still wet due to the practice we have adopted. We have placed 'used plastic bags' over the soil just around the sapling so that the water content in the soil does not get evaporated. As a result, even the scorching heat has not affected the plants in any major way. In spite of that, I was a bit worried when I saw some of the saplings shed off their leaves completely. But, today morning when I went to the place, I saw this:

Many of the saplings which were looking dead had new leaf buds such as these. Today, it looks cloudy and I hope it rains. Tomorrow, we could have even more results.

We are now in the process of tagging each sapling with its ID. Today morning I have tagged about 10 trees. In another 2-3 days, the tagging process should be complete. Tagging involves tying a small tag with the planting ID to the sapling so that there will be no confusion regarding which plant is planted by whom. This means that a tree planted by ERR will have a small tag somewhere in the bottom of the shoot saying that the tree ID is KA0901012. See picture below for an example.

(See top center of the image for the planting ID)

The vijayanagar park though has a problem with the planting IDs in that the trees are not in serial order. The source of this problem is that the planting was done randomly due to confusions on the inauguration day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How are the Ugadi saplings doing?

It hasn’t rained since Ugadi. And this ought to worry Sapgreen, Mysore’s tree-plant company that marked its inaugural by inviting all comers to plant saplings at a Vijayanagar II public park on Ugadi Day. The fledging company has much at stake in their survival.

For Sapgreen guarantees 100 per cent protection; and even replacement, at their cost, of the odd ones that wither due to natural causes. Every sapling the company plants is accounted for through a coding system. The company website has a ‘Find My Tree’ page, detailing all saplings planted till date. That is where you can check the status of any given plant. Survival of the coded saplings, thus, becomes not just moral but the business obligation for the company.

Sapgreen founders – Anil and Ashwin – have blogs that talk of their experiences, achievements, aspirations, highpoints and headaches. The blogs give us a sense of how their tree-plant business is going. In recent post Ashwin referred to water scarcity and his efforts to chase the authorities to resolve the issue. He had expressed hope that a dedicated waterline to the Vijayanagar park would be in place by April 11. There has been no update on this till date.

Nor is there any further word on Sapgreen’s efforts to cope with water shortage and what, if anything, the company has done to protect the 100 odd saplings planted at Vijayanagar on Ugadi Day. Shower-less evenings and punishing heat witnessed in the past week or more make Sapgreen’s task challenging. Those of us who share Anil-Ashwin’s concern for tree-plants would appreciate a feedback on a regular basis. Such connectivity, particularly for a green-delivery start-up that seeks public and government partnership, is good for business. Their web-silence could sap people’s goodwill and Sapgreen’s credibility.

On a personal note my stake in the Vijayanagar saplings stems from a neem sponsored for grandsons. In the absence of any blog update by Anil-Ashwin we, my wife and I, visited the Vijayanagara Park today (April 16).
We had a minor difference over the identity of the neem we planted on April 7. I reckon our sapling is hiding behind the bamboo tree-guard. My wife believes it is the one right behind, barely visible (in this shot), but identifiable by the white sheet covering its soil to retain moisture.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Of Light and Shade

A good tea planter is also a good tree planter! When tea is grown in the plains, shade trees like these are planted to regulate temperatures to around 25 degrees C - the optimum temperature for the tea bush. A first time visitor to a tea garden always asks how trees managed to pop up in the middle of all the tea! A close look at the picture shows how the trees have been planted in rows, and I hope you can see how dense the shadows in the foreground are. The shade is really cool, while it gets very hot under the sun. Most of these trees are bokain, which is a kind of wild neem.

This huge specimen, an Albizia Maranguensis, is about ten metres tall. At its widest point, the canopy measures 10 meters across. The tea bushes in the background grow to about three feet in height. I found this tree growing by the side of the state highway running between Falakata and Birpara towns. Albizias belong to the family of legumes, and they are all mimosa trees. Some varieties produce flowers that look like fragile shaving brushes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gouri Satya says it in Business Standard

It helps to be a journalist to promote a cause. And Mr Gouri Satya, a green enthusiast, has written about Sapgreen in Kolkata's Business Standard.

'Say it with saplings’ has been the business model for two young software engineers from Mysore, he says,introducing to his readers the company founders - Anil Kumar A S and Ashwin Upadhyaya. They are both 25, SJCE alumni, techies by training, and bitten by the green bug.

“Many moments in our life call for celebrations — birthday, wedding anniversary, daughter’s convocation, son’s first placement or whatever else. Usually we party, take out newspaper ads, or offer prayers at places of worship...", says Mr Satya's news report quoting Ashwin, we would persuade people to plant or sponsor saplings to mark such occasions.

Anil Kumar, who takes care of Sapgreen's marketing operations, is quoted in the media as, A green greeting card with details of where the sapling was planted will be sent to the person in whose name the sapling has been planted. It (company) will nurse the sapling and guard it until it becomes self-sustainable. Those who send bouquets to dear ones can make it more special by including a tree-gift certificate

Salient points in the media report:

--The company has also drawn up a ‘Devara Kadu’ scheme. Instead of offering flowers or coconut, people visiting a temple can offer a plant for planting on a vacant space around the temple. The company would arrange to retail saplings outside the temple.

--Another green idea in the pipeline is for corporates, which earmark funds under corporate social responsibility. Sapgreen is working on a package involving mass tree planting,and adopting and maintaining a park or other public space in the name of a corporate sponsor.

(Click for)Gouri Satya's Business Standard report

Thursday, April 10, 2008

After the event

This year Ugadi was different. The festival was 'really' celebrated. I have written my feelings about this event here:
I hope all festivals become tree-planting events. With our innumerable festivals, there would be no place remaining to plant trees in India in just one year. Height of optimism.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Snake Shyam talks tree-care

Snake Shyam buttonholed a bunch of neighbourhood boys on their way to play cricket at a Vijaynagar park to give them a pep talk on tree-care. He then asked each one of them to plant a sapling, all around their makeshift pitch. The boys who probably expected this guy to pull out a python from his bag might have been a bit disappointed seeing Syam minus snake; and, what's more, hearing him talk about carbon emission, usefulness of wayside trees, instead of snakes, their lifestyle and food habits.

The boys however gave him a patient hearing;picked up the saplings, thoughtfully placed there by Sapgreen;and planted them - venue - Vijayanagar II, opposite JSS High School; day - Ugadi, April 7. If only Shyam’s pep talk could turn these boys into stakeholders in nursing the saplings in the park, one needn’t worry about their survival. The JSS school principal has volunteered to provide water.

Such was the simple, but spirited, start of Mysore’s first green-delivery start-up company founded by two 25-year-olds – Ashwin Upadhyaya and Anil Kumar A S. A small, but significant, turnout included a bunch of collage students, spirited software professionals, a couple of tree experts, Mysore’s best known tree-pruner Hyder Ali Khan, doyen of local media corps Krishna Vattam, who wore the cap of a tree-lover for the occasion, a few Friends of Roadside Trees (FORT) and Anil Kumar’s parents, who have reposed faith in their son’s decision to dump a secure lakh-a-month job for a green business initiative with uncertain future.
Ashwin(centre), Anil and Hyder Ali Khan(left).
Anil with his parents and mentor Mr Krishna Vattam (centre)

I don’t know if Anil asked them to plant, but I reckon there can’t be a more fitting start to the tree-plant company than having parents of both co-founders to plant saplings at the park at the earliest. For Sapgreen, this park isn’t just another planting site;it is, rightfully, the place of company’s birth. It represents a piece of history.

Not wanting to be left out, FORT-Mysore members joined in, with Mr E R Ramachandran, Mr Vattam and yours truly planting our saplings side by side.

My wife and I sponsored our sapling, a neem, for our grandsons - Siddarth and Nikhil. The elder guy Siddarth, two years and a half, started going to play school this day in California. And we celebrated it with a sapling here in Mysore.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Saplings planted by children on Ugadi Day!

How did some of the Mysoreans spent the day after eating Mavinakayi Chitranna and Obbattu on Ugadi day?They assembled at MUDA park in Vijayanagar Stage II , opposite JSS School in the evening and planted 25 to 30 saplings which if well looked after will grow into two rows of trees in the park.It was an unique function in more ways than one.There were no speeches ( Clap! Clap!! Clap!!!).Children from that area planted all the saplings with great enthusisasm ( more claps!), who will also help in looking after the plants.Hopefully this day will go down in the history of Mysore where two younsters -Ashwin and Anil who have started the initiative-Sapgreen - to make Mysore greener, healthier. They are members of Fort Mysore- Friends of Roadside trees an organisation which believes there should be more trees than scooters, cars etc on Mysore Roads.Members of FORT- Mysore were present to wish the duo a happy beginning.Sapgreen couldn't have chosen a better day - Ugadi and a better crowd- mostly youngsters who did their bit on our New Year day.Do you want to be part of FORT and Sapgreen and do something in your area? If so, please call Ashwin : 99001 99201 and visit Fort-Mysore under the blog 'Mysore blog park.'( Mr. G.V. Krishnan: Tel:(2421918)

Marketing ideas for sap green

I liked the concept behind sap green mainly because they are wiping off this "charity" and bringing in "profit". At least this should encourage a fast development. If the same idea had been for charity also, the critics would have dubbed it as "hidden profit motives". Now that the motives are clear - profit along with clean environment, we need to think like businessmen on how to market this idea in a better way. More saplings and doing in large way means reduction in cost rates. So let us give our advice to sap friends on marketing their product.

My ideas (some are Ashwin's and his friend's ideas)

1. Approach foreigners through yoga classes.

2. Small boards about sap green in book shops.

3. Publicising through schools, colleges

4. Approaching Mysore university, so that it can make an understanding (or sign an MOU) and offer foreign students, visitors and delegates to plant saplings through sap green.

5. Contacting travel agencies who bring foreigners and travellers.

6. Contacting financial establishments like FICCI or industrial associations who usually have delegates from other places.

7. Introducing green greeting cards in Archies and other greeting stores. May be we can keep an attractive poster in each shop to attract the card buyers. For example: "Think again, do you want to buy your dear ones greeting cards which can reduce carbon emission and bring down global warming? Then buy green greeting cards." If sap green can offer an attractive commission, shop owners may agree.

8. Publicising at bakeries where people go to buy cakes for birthdays.

9. Boards at wedding and convention halls.

10. Boards at temples, churches, mosques.

11. Introducing affiliate links for bloggers and websites. (see this link to know more). Mozilla firefox used affiliate links to encourage and promote the browser.

12. If we cannot give speeches at each college/school about sap green's plans, we can at least try to notify this by putting posters on their college notice board.

13. Jayciana (annual fest of JC college) is coming very soon. May be sap green can open a desk at JC campus for whole week where volunteers will register a sapling. May be if there is some open space in JC college, we can take permission from college authorities and plant saplings. Now final year students will be leaving the college in 2-3 months, as a memory, they can leave a plant in JC campus or somewhere in the vicinity. Since the friends at sapgreen are SJCE alumni, we can expect their junior students to co-operate better.

Since this is for a good cause, we can request the shop owners to freely display the boards, or else at low charges. Please keep your ideas also flowing in.

At sapgreen's inauguration

From left: Mr. X, Hyder Ali Khan, Snake Shyam, Ramalingam (not sure?), Krishna Vattam, Mr. Y, Venkatesan

A view of the park.

Hyder Ali Khan, Krishna Vattam, Snake Shyam, Ashwin planting a sapling. Sorry to those guys whose faces got cut :P

I thought IST - Indian stretchable time could be applied to Sapgreen's inauguration programme and went at 4:45pm though it was scheduled at 4pm. Given that some officials were invited I felt, it was not a matter going late. Moreover it was sunny evening. When I approached the place- A park near JSS High School, Vijaynagar, the programme had already begun some 15 minutes ago.

The speeches were over, and everyone was holding a sapling in their hands and heading towards the pit. I and my friend Karthik carried a neem sapling and headed towards and pit and planted it. We did plant 3 more such saplings. By then we realised that all the saplings were not meant to be planted and we stopped.

My main intention of attending the programme was to meet the people whom i had met online. First I had seen Ashwin's photo and I mistook him as Anil and introduced myself. Then there was Mr. Venkatesan (MGP) whom I know from a year or two. When he called me name, Mr. Vattam recognised me, smiled and talked to me. I think he was delighted to see me, and even i was. Mr. Vattam was so particular about planting a mango sapling. But no mango plant was available there. GVK advised him that Mango trees were difficult to survive in such public places and would better survive at protected areas.

Then I thought of meeting GVK. He was there standing like a disciplined coach of a football team and assisting others to plant the trees and giving tips. Both Vattam and GVK were as energetic and attentive like youths. At this age they both are so active, we youths should learn from them.

Now coming to the programme, it was more of a meeting and exchanging ideas. We planted several trees by mistake for free of cost :) . Snake Shyam was present. I heard that ER Ramachandran was also present at the venue. But I couldn't meet him. I have been a fan of his funny writings on churumuri blog.

There was a short introduction about umbrella trees or shaamiyana trees by one Mr. Hyder Ali Khan who had grown a ground full of trees like shaamiyaana. He showed some newspaper clippings.

Then we had a short chat with Ashwin asking about their future plants. He and his friends have some good plans to increase the number of sapling sponsors. Wishing sap green friends all the best-est-est luck for their future plans.

Will leave you with a Kannada song which was broadcast on Doordarshan Chandana few years ago:
ಗಿಡ ನೆಡಿ ಗಿಡ ನೆಡಿ
ಗಿಡಾ ನೆಡಿ
ಮನೆಯ ಮುಂದೊಂದು ಗಿಡ ನೆಡಿ
ನೆಟ್ಟ ಗಿದಕೆ ನೀರು ಹಾಕಿ, ಬಾಳು ಕೊಡಿ

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sapgreen is in business

Mysore’s first tree-plant start-up, Sapgreen, is now in business. Its founders – Anil Kumar and Ashwin Upadhyaya - are self-confessed greenhorns who have the backing and goodwill of the Friends of Roadside Trees (FORT), a bloggers group, and a bunch of green-minded college students. It is a club-up of a civic initiative of public-spirited residents with a local business venture, in an effort to green Mysore.

Sapgreen founders, Anil and Ashwin.

Earlier efforts at tree-planting have been sporadic. And an ambitious scheme, launched jointly by the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) and the forest department a couple of years back didn’t make much headway because of poor funding. It was in such depressive scenario FORT-Mysore came along to promote the idea of people planting trees to celebrate life’s little noteworthy events - a birthday, wedding anniversary, felicitation on your getting an award, children’s success in examination, son’s trip abroad for higher studies, your daughter getting spouse visa that enables her to join her husband; her first Diwali after marriage, first Ugadi and several other firsts, for so many in the family.

When it comes to a cause, a green one, flimsiest of reasons would do. My wife and I plan to plant a sapling this Ugadi to mark our two-and-a-half year old grandson Siddarth’s first day at play school in California. What has it got to do with our planting a sapling in Mysore? It is the thought that matters. Those who think tree would find a reason even where there is none. FORT-Mysore is about persuading people to think trees; and be inventive in finding reasons to plant them.

But then many people with such green intention cannot always carry it out in action. This is where Sapgreen fits in. They take care of the nitty-gritty. Sponsor a tree; and Sapgreen takes care of the rest. FORT-Mysore can synergize with Sapgreen; FORT-Mysore can generate people’s interest (in tree-planting), and the other translates it into action.

They haven’t discussed tariff, but Sapgreen plans to put a price tag of Rs.300 on every tree-sponsorship. A sapling would cost hardly a tenth of this price. Over 90 percent goes into protection and upkeep of the plant till it takes root and can fend for itself. The plus point about Sapgreen founders is they guarantee survival of every sapling that is sponsored; and the odd ones that wither away for some reason are replaced.What is more, the status of every sapling can be monitored on the company website through a tree-coding system. Every sponsor gets a certificate of planting. Ashwin says they have plans to have a photo gallery on the web, with pictures of sponsors who plant their own saplings. They also have plans for putting out video-clips of tree-planting on YouTube. The packaging of the sponsorship sounds impressive. Whether their price would be acceptable to our middle-class mindset remains to be seen.
Maybe Rs.300 would become palatable, if the company chooses to plant in pairs; which means every sponsor would get two trees for the price of one. After all, there wouldn’t be much difference in the cost of upkeep of the pair.

Cross-posted in SiliconIndia blog

Green snaps from Newcastle

Aninda Shome, mailed us these pictures from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Aninda,my LinkedIn contact doing MBA there,is a tree lover.