It was a green carnival that the city never saw before. Young and old, kids and teens — all came out on lazy Sunday morning and showed that they do care for their ‘polluted’ city.
It was exactly three years back in 2011 that a report issued by the World Heath Organisation ranked Ludhiana at number one for being most polluted city in India and fourth most polluted in the world.
The industrial city, choking with rising pollution levels, was given a soothing balm on Sunday morning when residents came together and celebrated Earth Hour — from 8 to 9 am.
It also marked Ludhiana’s official attempt to make Guinness world record for planting one lakh saplings in one hour. If initial figures are to be believed, then Ludhiana crossed one lakh mark and planted almost 1.5 lakh saplings.
From Ludhiana military camp planting 10,000 saplings at its four base stations to a small kid planting a little sapling in his garden, photographs of residents carrying out plantations near their homes flooded the official page of Earth Hour on Facebook, as they were instructed to do so to maintain the count for world record.
Cutting across party lines, Aam Aadmi Party leader H S Phoolka and Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria from Akali Dal participated in the drive. Phoolka visited various sites and planted saplings while the mayor was seen in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar with his two daughters distributing saplings to residents.
“Kuch rukh lagde putt mainu, kuch lagde maanva; kuch dheeyan putt warge; kuch vaang bhraavan. (Some trees are like my sons, some like mothers, some like daughters and others like brothers). I remember these beautiful lines from a poem of great poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi. Trees are life and I am glad Ludhiana has realised this, better late than never. Today I felt peace within,” said Padam Shri Surjit Patar.
Jatinder Manchanda and Jaswant Zafar, from NGO Sambhav and V-MAD, the brainchild behind the whole idea, said, “All we can say is ‘Ho Gaya Sambhav’. We have crossed 1 lakh mark and it was kept in mind that saplings are planted where they will be taken care of by people who have planted them.”
The evidence of 1 lakh plantation will be sent to the Guinness Book of World Records officials through photographs and videos. The registration drive called ‘Ho Gaya Sambhav’ was held at Guru Nanak Bhawan on Sunday evening where people who planted even one sapling were to submit evidence. “The proof can be submitted till July 23 or mailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org,” added Manchanda.
Shital Prakash, an environmentalist who planted 450 saplings at POWERCOM office with officials, said, “It was an event that the city never witnessed before. Now we need to take care of saplings that have been planted.”
Small children were seen carrying saplings to nearby parks and their school campus on Sunday. “We had already distributed 1.18 lakh saplings to pits already dug in advance through district forest office. Rest were distributed in schools so that kids can plant them in nearby parks and homes. Private nurseries sold 50,000 saplings in the last two days,” said Manchanda.
District forest officer Daljit Singh Brar said that “special permission was taken from head office to provide 1 lakh saplings free of cost for the cause”.
The Guinness Book of World Records officials would revert within six weeks’ time, said Manchanda. The current record is held by Assam for planting around 40,000 saplings in an hour.
“I request Ludhiana residents to submit evidence with us by July 23 even if one has planted one sapling,” he said.
More than 50 saplings were planted at Civil Hospital by ALL (Assocham Ladies League) where the mayor visited and around 15,000 were planted on roadside near Hotel Keys. Canal sides, cremation ground premises, temples, schools, streets, parks and other sites in the city were given green cover. Children and adults also posted their selfies with saplings on the Facebook page.