Puneites volunteer to dot the hills green
Every weekend, more than 100 volunteers walk up to the seven Tekdi hills in the city, armed with watering cans, bottles, and even gunny bags filled with coco peat, all to help trees survive the sweltering heat during the hottest months of the year.
Himanshu Kulkarni, a volunteer at Vetal Tekdi, meets his friend, Anay Pethe, on the third or fourth Sunday of every month to water and care for the plants.
“When my friend and I began, it was an attempt to be responsible about our immediate environment. We used social media to appeal to people to plant trees and also take care of them as they grow. We both need about 20 minutes to climb the hill along with our watering cans, and we receive help when we carry organic fertilizer for the trees. We also clean up the garbage littered around Tekdi,” he said
Being Volunteer Foundation, conceptualised in 2014 by Kailas Narawade, has also been conducting similar programmes over the weekend in an attempt to save Pune’s deteriorating forest cover.
“We came across a lot of people who wanted to volunteer and work towards protecting the environment. The biggest draw is the green dot initiative, which works towards this goal. Our atmosphere has been steadily degrading because of the various pollutants that are being released and the forest covers are also depleting quickly. We are in dire need to replenish our oxygen source. On average, a person breathes in oxygen produced by seven to eight fully grown trees in a year. We need 28 trees (aged 40 years) per lifetime is needed for a sustainable life but we only have 1.28 trees per person in Pune, according to the Climate Reality Project India,” explained Kailas.
Kailas works tirelessly to increase the forest cover and to increase the citizen to tree ratio in the city. In order to do this, one needs to do more than just plant tress. Newly planted trees need to be nurtured for at least for 2 years before they are capable of sustaining themselves. Many organisations are engaged in planting trees, but that is only five per cent of the task. The trees will not survive unless they are nurtured and brought to a state where they can grow without help.
The green dot initiative began in January 2016, in Chaturshringi Hill and has now been expanded to four more locations. 956 volunteers have worked on planting 12,000 plus and nurturing more than 20,000 plants, increasing the forest cover tremendously.
“We also conduct awareness sessions at corporations, colleges and schools, and partner with local NGOs working in the area to organise tree plantation and nurturing drives. Our volunteers, who come from various backgrounds, are invited to a pre-decided venue and trained to plant and care for trees. We have identified six hills in Pune, with forest land where we will look to continue our work,” he added.
When and where: Every Saturday and Sunday 7 am to 9 am at Chaturshringi hill, Hanuman hill, ARAI hill, Mhalunge hill, Amarjai hill and Ayyapa Hill.