A feedback on the Bangalore tree-corridor idea

Mrs Janet Yegneswaran of the Tree-for-free trust doesn’t share my enthusiasm for a green corridor to the Bangalore international airport. “Sorry, it’s not possible,” she wrote back, saying she has enough hassles already, of having to deal with the municipal authorities for providing tree guards to her roadside saplings. Planting saplings along airport highway entail large scale maintenance; would require lots of tree-guards (which, incidentally, cost more than saplings). And who takes responsibility for watering the saplings? 

Such was her response when I wrote to Janet after reading about her initiative to get people to plant saplings to mark special events in life – birthday, wedding anniversary, tribute a parents, graduation, getting a job. A California based NRI sponsored planting of 21 saplings in a city park to mark her three-week vacation in Bangalore. This triggered an idea – if everyone who goes abroad the first time – students, IT professional, parents of NRIs – were to sponsor a roadside sapling each to mark the occasion, we could have a green corridor along the road to Devanahalli airport before long. 

Janet’s current concerns are about saving the saplings that are planted; about watering them regularly. The municipal corporation staff is required to water roadside plants at least once a week. Without providing for manpower and resources for proper after-care of planted saplings, there is little point in thinking big, according to Janet. 

The point is, Janet may not be aware that her tree-sponsorship idea has sparks of morphing into a civic movement. I recall my own skepticism about Exnora, when its founder, Mr M B Nirmal, wanted me to do a story about it in the Times of India. This was in late 80s; and Mr Nirmal, then a Chennai bank official, had returned from a posting in Hong Kong . His idea was that those of us who have been exposed to life and living abroad, could contribute to raising the quality of civic life in Chennai.

Mr Nirmal and his small band of like-minded Chennai residents, all of them with experience of living abroad, started their civic initiative in T Nagar area, under an NGO forum called EXNORA (which stood for excellent+novel+radical). He sought media support and that was how we got in touch. I appreciated Mr Nirmal’s efforts, but dismissed it as a story for a city paper. I thought it was too ‘local’ for The Times of India (of which I was then the Chennai correspondent). I had failed to see the spark in the EXnora idea, which has now grown into a country-wide residents driven civic movement. 

I don’t know if Mr Nirmal had then visualized the full potentials of  his local initiative. Janet’s tree-sponsorship idea may be another idea waiting to become a movement, in the Exnora fashion. Speaking of tree-planting I once read that at Surathkal they have a tradition of asking every NIE student to plant a sapling on the campus before graduation. Surathkal campus is now green with trees planted by seniors years ago.

The charitable trust founded by Janet has planted over 1,500 saplings in the last two years. Bangaloreans who wish to see a touch of green in their neighborhood can call Janet – 9845449703 – to have their wish fulfilled. The trust gets calls from residents all over the city, wanting trees planted on their street. Her organizational and other resources are stretched out to the full. Janet says her trust does not collect money from people for planting saplings in their neighborhood. Her resources come from individual donations and corporate sponsors. 

As a hands-on person Janet wants to spend all her time and energy in planting saplings. She leaves strategy and promotional work to volunteers; not being in on the Internet and networking Janet relies on volunteers to answer e-mail and maintain their website which could do with updates on a regular basis. Those of us who wish to take Janet’s the tree-sponsorship idea to a higher, wider and more institutionalized level would first need to convince Janet that thinking big could, at times, lead to big things; that an  airport green corridor under Janet’s tree-sponsorship programme isn’t such a wooly idea; and, that it has potential to become a working model for citizen-corporate-government partnership in our common endeavor to see a greener Bangalore. 

Networking of like-minded folks with a Bangalore connection would help mobilize resources for us to build on Janet’s work. We could tap our contacts in SiliconIndia and LinkedIn to spread the word and seek guidance from networking professionals. They could help Janet devise appropriate software for registering sponsors online; to enable access to data on available space for tree-plantation; the area that has tree cover; to maintain inventory of saplings available for planting, their variety; brief notes on sponsors and status of saplings they planted. Over a period the tree-for-free trust could build a database for a tree census in the city. Those who wish ro contact Janet could e-mail – rajanetyeg@gmail.com

Related post: Bye,bye Bangalore; Saying it with saplings  

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14 Responses

  1. Hello,

    It is really great the services of Mrs. Janet. For the tree corridor
    along Airport Road, why don’t we try to entrust a stretch by stretch
    of the corridor to IT industries and other MNCs to plant trees and maintain. They can exhibit their Name boards.I have been writing to
    Chennai Corporation also to entrust the city roads to companies in this
    manner.
    Wishing you all the best in your endeavor
    Yours,
    V.Kuppan,Retd. Suptg Engireer[Highways]
    Senetor, Exnora International,
    Plot No. 4/27, II Main Road,
    Adambakkam, Chennai. 600 088

  2. Just a suggestion in re tree guards. These are usually fabricated out of mild steel and then painted. All of which is quite expensive. The purpose is to protect the sapling from goats and cows. Once the tree has grown out of their reach, the tree guard is no longer required.

    A cheaper one can be fabricated out of bamboo slats and grass ropes. Eco friendly. Inexpensive. Effective. Employment generating.

    • I agree with Narendra Shenoy – Bamboo, with a bit of thorn thrown around works just as well. We have used it to green our colony pretty well!

      The corporate sponsorhsip is a great idea – in fact, they should be made responsibe not just for planting & tree guards, but watering too. Given that they work with contractors on a regular basis & also ahve CSR initiatives, this is a great idea! In return, one can given them assured branding on the tree guards for a minimum of 5 years! this way, it works all ways – they get to display their brand / organisations commitment to the enviroment, the corridor gets green and most importantly, the environment gets protected – soil erosion is arrested, water tables are upped. Another idea can also be to construct mini water harvestors alongside the roads to up the water table.

  3. Those interested in planting trees may also volunteer for ISHA Foundation’s Project Green Hands initiative.

    BTW, I met Mr.Nirmal last month and he is 65+ but still bubbling with the same enthusiasm and energy that he must have showed to you about 20 years back.

    Because of his positive influence, we a group of NRIs living in US are planning to start the US Branch of ExNoRa.

    We would not only act as a funding agency but also a group that would brain-storm the solutions for common civic problems in India and then exchange ideas and implement solutions.

    If any person in USA is interested to join hands with us, please mail me at msvenky@hotmail.com

  4. Wow! going thru ur blog is a novel experience itself…

    So much going around and I am so ignorant of it all….

    I hope the tree planting project takes off in every city and with that I do wish people take more attention to “Rain water harvesting” too. I see it now mentioned in 5th standard text books.

  5. Hello ,

    I guess tree guards wont cost much.In bangalore there are more than 10 lac software engineers.If atleast 1 lac software engineers sponser one tree gueard,we can arrange around 1 lac tree guards.ofcourse it wont happened immediately…but if we try it wont be much difficult.As from my side i can arrange atleast 100 tree gaurds in a year.

    I need some more details of this trust.could you pls anyone provide me like contact details.

  6. I am in!! Just let me know what I need to do and I will be there.

  7. Janet is correct about her concern to save existing trees/saplings. I think IT/BT sector which churns money should help in this and take Janet’s vision to a wide area.

    I would like to share my experience with BIA.
    BIA must be first project which Bangalore has ever completed in time. Cheers for that. Airport lacks trees and green ambience. (take an example of Mumbai which is green). Only few palm saplings were forced into ground. I think technology and nature should coexist. Bangalore IT / BT should pitch in and not remain mute spectators. Massive fruit tree plantation should be undertaken immediately along high way right from Bangalore city to BIA airport. Locals help should be taken to maintain trees. IT firms/environmentalist/rotary groups should contribute financially and should be main guiders.Native fruit trees like (mango, tamarind, jamun, jackfruit)attract birds and bees / locals can benefit its produce. Lakes along routes should be developed. Rural nature should be preserved and no highrise construction be allowed. Let million trees make this a greenest airport.

    Thanks

  8. Hello Mr. GVK,
    I think your prayers have been answered by none other than BBMP. The BIAL road is all set to have a GREEN look.
    Look at the following article:
    http://www.mid-day.com/web/guest/news/bangalore/article?_EXT_5_articleId=1153764&_EXT_5_groupId=14

    Cheers,
    – Guru

  9. I hope to see million tress planted in Bangalore. Let us see what new government does. IT sector should pitch in.

    Recently I visited Navi Mumbai and Anushaktinager. Whole city is full of trees. Stations and bus stands are so green that this will bring BIA to rethink. Let our guys visit these places and see how commited are Mumbai guys(CIDCO department). Mostly Banglore guys only talk and don’t take any action.

    Thanks

  10. Why everyone is talking only about plantation across BIA? We need any barren land to be greener. All of us who are working with MNCs can take an initiative for plantation across the roadside or on dividers near our areas. Our companies can surely sponsor the maintenance of these saplings (they will get marketing benefits by putting their companies board) which includes watering plants and providing the treeguards.
    Starting at a smaller level would be much easier and this way we will contribute at least something back to mother nature.

  11. Correct. Probably our MNC’s should take initiative for massive tree plantation on all barren lands of Bangalore(Majestic, Market, Hosur roads) – one of dirtiest, polluted areas with no trees.

    But our MNC’s go and plant only trees (say 20-50) in Cubbon park just to gain name. Apparently none will survive.

    They should go and plant a million tress in polluted areas. They should allocate budget for environment and take care. They should sponser money for tree plantation. We can’t bear to see heritage trees cut. It is shame on Bangalore. These trees have seen history, generations, passage of time have become immortal.

    But is any company listening?

    Thanks

  12. Bangalore is a rubbish dry dust garbage city. Place I come from (Mumbai) has around 80 lakh trees. Mumbai is a greenest forest city. It is amazing government undertakes massive tree plantation, never cuts tree (remember no saplings can match a full grown tree). No wonder dense forest of mumbai makes it to receive torrential rains for 6 months.

  13. Recently I had been to Bangalore Internation airport. Not a single tree along stretch from Heebal to Devanhalli. Barren red earth. Massive trees should be planted by government. Seems new government is equally bad about environment. I doubt with no rains in Bangalore how saplings will survive?

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