IN 2009, the Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF) had embarked on a novel project called ‘Dial a tree’. Under this project, people were asked to dial a helpline number (9303152123) if they wanted to get a tree planted. On request, a green ambulance of the GWAF along with a gardener and tree guard will pay the caller a visit and do the plantation free of cost. Residents however, would have to give an affidavit that they will be taking care of the plant. This takes place for a week every monsoon season.
This is the eighth year of the project (they missed three years in between due to some issues) under a drive called ‘Anand Utsav’. So far, nearly 18,000 trees have been planted under this project, with a survival rate of nearly 40%. This year, the drive will start on Monday and continue till August 4. Dr Bhupinder Singh, a retired IIT Roorkee professor and GWAF patron, said, “We take saplings from the forest department, tree guards are donated by our members. Manure too is donated and we bear expenses of ambulance, nursery men and other costs.”
Navdeep Asija, founder member of ‘Anand Utsav’, and secretary, GWAF, said, “Our drive continues in a 12 km range of Fazilka town where there is little greenery. We don’t plant more than five plants in a particular house as our idea is that people should take care of the plants rather than just increasing numbers. Our target this year is 5,000 saplings. If anyone wants more, we will give them, but they have to plant the saplings themselves. Our city has a green cover of less than 1 per cent, which is alarming as unplanned city growth in the form of a concrete jungle with no open and green spaces is hampering the quality of life.”
He further said, “During our first Anand Utsav drive, more than 1,200 tree saplings were planted, of which over 600 survived. During the second one, more than 2,300 saplings were planted, of which over 1,600 are offering environmental benefits. In last 7 years, over 18,000 saplings were planted in Fazilka region with survival rate 30-40 per cent.” Sukchain, Jamun, Neem, Gulmohar etc. will be distributed.
Asija, who recently got married, sponsored the daily expenses of a plantation drive (around Rs 2,000 a day) and also sponsored 1,000 tree guards to celebrate the occasion. “Last year, 7 people had donated tree guards on their birthdays,” he said.
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