The Nelda Foundation, an NGO, has been planting trees, removing weeds and cleaning Hanuman Tekdi, Shivajinagar for the past three years. Started by Vedarth Deshpande, the small environmental venture’s primary objective is to grow more than a billion trees by 2041 in Pune and elsewhere.
“We have a core group of 21 members and an army of more than 5,000 volunteers. They are mostly students — some corporate and local residents in the area also partake in the activities,” said Shubham Ghule, leader of operations, Nelda.
While tree sapling plantations reach their peak during the monsoons, the NGO’s members and volunteers clean the area, paint tree barks with Geru and Chuna and manually remove weeds around the year. “There are several Alder trees at the tekdi. Apart from maintaining the existing trees and saplings by watering them, we also plant native species. Additionally, we paint the trunks with Geru and Chuna as they act as a barrier for termites and other plant infections. We remove weeds so that it does not slow down the growth of the main trees and plants. However, we remove the weeds manually or with machines instead of burning them as they cause more harm and do not let the trees and plants breathe,” said Ghule.
The NGO has placed dustbins on the path that goes uphill. “People often tend to litter while they jog or run uphill. So we have placed dustbins,” he said.
Ghule added that the regular plantation and cleanliness drives have benefited the small ecosystem of the tekdi. “We focus primarily on Hanuman tekdi as it has several species of birds and reptiles. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of a Kingfisher or a Bharadwaj bird (crow pheasant) on the branches.
Several life cycles or chakras are co-existing on the tekdi. Our eco-activities ensure that we protect these green pockets around our city. We are having our first such activity for the year on January 5, starting at 7.30 am. We will then regularise it every Sunday,” he said.