Mumbai professor plants 2.5K trees, pens short poems for a greener city
Survival rate of trees planted by Hindi professor Hubnath Pandey and his team at Mumbai university’s Kalina campus and Jogeshwari college is 80%; to recycle garden, kitchen waste into compostmumbai Updated: May 01, 2017 11:08 IST
As the space-starved financial capital tries to meet its demands for housing and infrastructure projects, at the cost of its green cover, a 52-year-old University of Mumbai (MU) professor has been silently planting a mini-forest at Kalina.
With an 80% survival rate, Hubnath Pandey, Hindi professor and head of the National Service Scheme (NSS) postgraduate (PG) unit, MU, has taken the lead to safeguard the city’s green cover by planting and taking care of 2,500 trees within the university’s Kalina campus and Ismail Yusuf College, Jogeshwari (East). It’s been four years since Pandey embarked on his mission.
The Kalina campus, which is spread across 267 acres, has more than 10,000 trees. Of these, more than 1,100 trees have been planted and are being nurtured by Pandey and his team.
“The abnormal rise in temperatures during the month of March clearly indicates that we are cutting trees, but not planting the same number in their place,” said Pandey. “Planting, nurturing and saving trees is the only solution to reduce the adverse effects of global warming.”
His efforts come at a time when the green cover in the Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR) is fast depleting owing to a number of infrastructure projects. Moreover, there have been poor results for transplantation or replantation of trees uprooted during such projects and no specific records are maintained by the civic body.
Along with 75 volunteers from the NSS PG unit, Pandey ensures that tree species such as banyan, fig, mango, neem, coconut and palm, to name a few, are watered daily, pruned and remain healthy.
“The idea is to transform the Kalina campus into a green belt. Even if a number of infrastructure projects are going on, the pollution can be contained by this green cover,” he said adding, “It is ultimately for the students to realise the impact of our carbon footprint and how we can reduce it through small endeavours.”
Additionally, Pandey writes poetry and has written five books on protection and preservation of trees to control the impact of climate change.
“In this day and age, where environment education needs to be the primary focus, through my poems, I attempt to establish the need to worship nature and remind the society about its responsibility to plant trees and obtain oxygen,” said Pandey.
University officials said they will be keeping a track of all trees being planted and nurtured on campus.
“It is of prime importance that teachers and students undertake for tree plantation drives, wherever possible. In addition to his [Pandey’s] good academic record, his efforts in preserving our tree cover are an inspiration for all. His efforts have allowed us to develop an inventory to keep a check on our tree cover,” said Dr MA Khan, registrar, MU.
In the next three months, the NSS PG unit will begin recycling garden and kitchen waste from Kalina campus into compost, which will further be used to increase the green cover.
“At university-level, the importance of doing such plantations directly impacts students and creates a network to preserve the green cover. Such initiatives also highlight the importance of becoming more conscious towards environmental issues. It is the need of the hour,” said Chandrakant Tambe, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officer from H (West) ward.
Experts said for a city like Mumbai, planting trees in barren areas to create pockets of green patches will reduce pollution significantly. “A specific crown size and height of trees can control dispersion of air pollutants around traffic corridors, which is a must for Mumbai,” said Sharad Gokhale, professor of environmental engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.