Belief in astrology is set to sink deeper roots in Telangana. The government of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has embarked on an ambitious afforestation plan for which it has exhorted residents of the state to plant saplings according to their respective zodiac signs.
Known for his firm belief in astrology and vaastu, Rao says planting trees matching zodiac signs will bring good luck to both the individual as well as the state that is going to get greener.
“It has been a tradition in India to plant trees based on a person’s astrological sign or birth star to bring them good luck. During the plantation drive, saplings that are aligned astrologically to individuals must be given if asked for,’’ the chief minister instructed officials recently.
Some 4,200 nurseries have consequently drawn up elaborate lists of trees corresponding with their preferred zodiac sign.
For example, if one is born under the Pisces sign, he or she should ideally be planting a banyan sapling. In the case of Aries, a red sanders is preferred while Geminis should preferably opt for jackfruit trees.
Rao’s penchant for something that many see as superstition may shock outsiders, but those in Telangana are not surprised.
Since taking office a little over two years ago, Rao has reportedly been following what his personal retinue of astrologers advices. One particular person who has left his stamp of authority during Rao’s tenure is Sudhakar Teja, an expert in Vaastu – the traditional Hindu system of architecture.
Rao has made him an adviser to the roads and buildings department of the state government. Teja is also advising the government in planning for a new secretariat, since the chief minister refuses to work out of the existing complex for not being “vaastu-compliant”.
Rao, meanwhile, is also building a new office-cum-residence for himself over 8.9 acres at a cost of Rs 35 crores for addressing all his vaastu woes. The swimming pool of the IAS officers association club adjacent to the existing facility built by late chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy has been demolished since a water-body in close proximity apparently does not bode well for a chief minister.
Environmentalists, though, have more pressing concerns with the plantation drive. The government is planning to cut down 1,394 trees around the KBR National Park in Hyderabad to widen roads for attracting investors and improving its ‘ease of doing business’ index.
“What the government is doing is simply contradicting itself,’’ said Shilpa Sivakumaran of Hyderabad Rising, a group formed to protect the city’s environment. “On one hand, they want to make cutting of trees easier than setting up an email account and on the other hand, they want to plant trees.”