For the last few days, Atul Benke has been visiting Malin village. Touched by the tragedy, he and his friend Mangesh Hadawale, director of National award-winning films Tingya and Dekh Indian Circus, both residents of Junnar, have decided to do something in their own capacity.
In Godre village, on the premises of a seven-acre land, where Benke’s father runs a school for the underprivileged, the duo are building a park named Malin Sanjivani Smarak, which will have one tree each dedicated to the people who died in the landslide.
“Besides this, the garden will also have a huge board that will have information about the village, the disaster (when did it take place, rescue operation work, total death toll), preventive measures that can be taken and so on,” says Benke, adding, “We have got the names of about 85 to 90 people who died and have been identified. In another day or two, the officials will be declaring the total toll. Once all the dead ones are identified, we will be ready with the final list.”
On August 16, when the park will be inaugurated, he says that the majority of the trees will have been planted.
After news broke of the landslide, Hadawale felt disturbed and contacted his friend Benke, a local realtor. “We, as common citizens, wanted to do something very basic, that had an association with the tragedy. Hence we decided to plant trees. I personally haven’t come across such a garden in our country but in the USA, I had seen agarden built on similar lines.”
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Remembering the time when filmmaker Hadawale had visited Malin in 2007, he says, “When I was looking for a location for the shoot of my film Tingya, one of the villages that I had visited was Malin. I roamed around the village for about 25 minutes.”
Speaking of the village, Godre, where the park will be located, Benke says, “Just like Malin, the village Godre too is inhabited mainly by tribals and is surrounded by the Sahyadri Hills.” The village lies in Junnar district and is about 35 kms from Malin.
Benke and Hadawale are in touch with forest department officials to get information about the kind of trees that should be planted in the area. “Besides the roughly 150 trees which will be dedicated to the landslide victims, we also aim to plant more trees on the premises. We have also contacted the local Ganesh mandals to create awareness about the importance of planting trees,” says Benke.