Mumbai man gives up 12-year career to revive green cover, plants 20,000 saplings
Maharashtra government felicitated him with a Maharashtra Gaurav award on January 26 for his efforts.mumbai Updated: Oct 16, 2017 16:26 IST
The rapid decline in city’s green cover bothers many, but not many dedicate all their time and effort towards improving the situation. Three years ago, Subhajit Mukherjee, 38, decided to not be one of those people by quitting his 12-year career as an HR professional. Since then, he has convinced 700 housing societies along Metro route to adopt 9,000 saplings, planted 20,000 across the city and devised a way to purify Poisar river with a 5X5 ft floating island.
“After witnessing the rapid decline of green cover and the city’s environment, the constant irritation of doing nothing about it forced me to quit my job. Even if that meant that my daily finances would suffer, I was ready to dedicate at least five years to help improve the city’s environmental condition. Also, my wife helped with the financial struggle at home,” said Mukherjee, a Charkop resident. “There is no point blaming the government as it is up to us citizens to change our surroundings.”
He followed a three-step process for his efforts — First, saving the trees through adequate watering, proper compost and the right soil quality; Second, improve plantation process by choosing where to plant and what kind of saplings to plant; and third, conduct awareness programs at schools, colleges, housing societies and companies.
Along with NGO Green Yatra and another Mumbaiite Bharat Desai, Mukherjee began two campaigns: ‘Each One Teach One to Plant Trees’, and ‘Adopt a Plant’. In the first campaign, that started in 2014, Mukherjee identified areas for plantations. “As and when citizens contacted me, I guided them to choose the right plants, told them how to plant them and ensure their survival. A total of 2,500 Mumbaiites have planted saplings so far with a 96% survival rate,” he said.
Under the second campaign, they tried to increase the green cover along the west coast, said Mukherjee. He identified road medians where small plants and medium-sized trees could be transplanted from Metro construction sites and helped citizens adopt and plant them at their housing societies. “I received an overwhelming response from 700 housing societies from Bandra to Dahisar, Ghatkopar, and also from Navi Mumbai and Mira Bhayander,” he said. “Once the Metro construction work is over, citizens can replant them back at the medians or metro stations again.”
He has successfully helped people plant 13,000 saplings along the west coast comprising fruit trees like coconut, custard apple, guava, pomegranate, jackfruit, and a few other trees like ficus, banyan etc. “Planting of Ashoka and various types of palm trees is discouraged as they do not provide a suitable habitat for birds or any shade for citizens,” said Mukherjee.
Impressed by his efforts, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the state forest department roped him in for their annual plantation drives. During the monsoon season, he ensured that the city got 3,222 new saplings and another 2,542 under the forest department’s Van Mahotsav. Over the past year, he also freed close to 100 trees from concretisation. “With a vision of 13 crore sapling plantations for 2018, it is citizens like Mukherjee who can help urban areas to come up as green zones. We laud his efforts and welcome more citizens with the same mind set,” said Santosh Kank, range forest officer, Mumbai forest range.
The state also felicitated him with a Maharashtra Gaurav award on January 26 for his efforts. “Our whole department is aware of his efforts. He has become a bridge between government bodies, corporates and citizens. The city needs an army of people like him to improve Mumbai’s environmental condition and the civic body will support his every endeavour,” said Hanumant Gosavi, assistant superintendent of gardens, BMC tree department.
As a part of his Diwali celebrations, Mukherjee plans to plant 100 saplings at an orphanage in Virar.