Chennai’s green warriors have hit the ground running, so to speak, to replant the green cover blown away by Cyclone Vardah.
Within hours of the destruction left behind by the gale force winds that felled hundreds of trees across the city, there was an outpouring of concern, as images of the devastation went viral on social media.
Concerned individuals, entrepreneurs, NGOs and the youth got together, first on social media, sounding each other out and exchanging ideas on how best to replenish the green cover that will take ages to regenerate.
They all know that the task is gigantic. The city corporation is still counting the felled trees, some as old as 70 years. Environmentalists are trying to put a value on the loss to ecology and assessing the environmental damage the cyclone has caused.
Officially, the Tamil Nadu government says 13,600 trees have been lost, and the numbers are climbing as reports keep coming in. First off the block are NGOs like Environmental Heroes, Nizhal that works with trees, and Arappor Iyakam among others – helping out clearing the uprooted trees, assessing damage and planning the way forward.
Moshi Rajkumar, a third-year engineering student had floated Environmental Heroes just 11 months ago and is out in the field with some 60 volunteers who include people from all walks of life. “We are at present restoring the trees that can still be saved,” he said, adding “planting new saplings will begin soon.”
Shobha Menon of Nizhal, said the corporation should come up with a Tree Health Management System as she began rescuing trees that could be replanted at Kotturpuram.
Chandra Mohan of Arappor Iyakkam said that for each tree that had fallen, at least 100 saplings need to be planted. “But that is impossible, so we are aiming for 10 saplings, and even that is a huge target of over a lakh saplings.”
This is the challenge that would require the support of entire Chennai, so to speak.
Through social media individuals, professionals, entrepreneurs, business chambers, have begun tapping into each other to make a difference.
Like several others, Srinivasan M, an industrialist from Chennai now living in Bengaluru, is sad that the city he grew up in was in such distress. “Chennai’s green cover was very useful in managing the microclimate and should not be lost due to our negligence,” he told HT as he tries to link up his contacts to come together to re-green Chennai.
“I am in the process of arranging native samplings, which will be distributed to local residents and volunteers,” Srinivasan said about his plans to raise a battalion of young students for this purpose.