The annual two-week long Anand Utsav will begin on Sunday in Fazilka district. The fifth edition of the festival celebrates nature and this year, the theme is ‘save the house sparrow and increase biodiversity in the district’.
“Under Project Sparrow, the idea is to increase their nesting spots by planting shrubs and plants,” said Navdeep Asija of Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka, the main organisation behind the festival. “Over the years the house sparrow numbers have been dwindling. We have sought help from leading horticulturists and nurseries in the effort.”
Also planned is a unique phone service called Dial-a-Tree. Under this, residents who wish to plant a tree at a spot can call on 99 151 840 00 or e-mail the organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A green ambulance with saplings, manure, tools and volunteers will help to plant saplings,” said Asija. “This is a free service intended to serve the higher cause of making our district, and the planet, a little greener.”
One resident can get up to five saplings, which organizers say is to ensure that the caretaker takes good care of saplings instead of going on a planting spree only to see them die later.
“We have a target of planting 5,000 saplings. We do not go by trend of planting lakhs of saplings. The idea here is that an individual who gets one saplings planted takes care of it and see it growing into a tree. To plant saplings in bulk and then seeing them dying is not our motive,” said Asija.
The non-planned town Fazilka, close to the Indo-Pak border, has a green cover of less then one per cent at present.
This environment festival, which was started in 2010 by local residents, has seen around 50 per cent survival rates in the saplings that they have planted till date.
“The sapling will be planted only if the caller undertakes an oath in front of our ‘green warriors’ along with a written pledge that he/she will take care of it,” said Asija. Additional deputy commissioner Fazilka Isha Kalia will inaugurate the green festival on Sunday.
“The ambulance service will start on Monday and continue till the end of the festival. We may extend it if the response is overwhelming,” he said.
Isha Kalia told The Sunday Express, “Due to their busy schedule, people who would love to plant a tree are unable to do so. We try to bridge that gap.”