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The `green' drive

Dr. Madhavan and Subramaniam are working for a cause... to make the city greener. A profile of the duo, who plant saplings along the city roads.

IT JUST took a banker and a paediatrician to make their neighbourhood in Mandaveli green with trees. A decade ago, even before the Corporation put it into action, the men took it up as a cause to save and plant more trees.

It all started when Dr. Madhavan and Subramaniam felt the need to promote a social cause and for some exercise. Arboriculture was their first preference.

"We started "Environmental Society of Mandaveli' (now called `Global Greenways) in 1989. As the first step, we were involved in roadside tree planting. It was initially hard to get people to co-operate," reminisces Dr. Madhavan. Later, the duo approached various organisations for sponsors to fence the saplings. "Organisations such as Spic, New India Insurance and Sri Krishna Sweets sponsored our cause," says Mr. Subramaniam, a former Treasurer of the Reserve Bank of India. Says the doctor, "Now we are concentrating on planting trees in fenced areas, campuses and companies."

They are particular about the kind of saplings planted. "We try to choose such saplings which do not attract the cattle. Like neem saplings. Also they are easily available. We have already provided saplings to organisations such as Exnora, NGOs and schools in and around Mandaveli," he says.

"Deforestation has got much attention and hype in the past than afforestation. Of course, it is not possible to avoid felling trees when a road has to be laid or a building constructed. So, instead of making a big issue about cutting an old tree, it would make sense to plant more saplings. Moreover, as the average life span of oft-found species of trees is not more than 40 or 50 years, the cycle should continue and more trees have to be planted always," rues the doctor.

Subramaniam says, "We have adopted a cost-effective method. A volunteer collects roadside saplings, which we nurture until they are fit enough to grow and then give it to the organisation if they ask or plant it on the roadside safely."

Another fact highlighted was the transferring of trees from one area to another. Dr. Madhavan feels that it is not worth the cost, effort and manpower involved. The doctor also gave away few saplings to the patients as part of the drive.

Avers Subramanian, "We also create awareness about rain water harvesting. But our aim is to promote tree planting."

Today, the roads in Mandaveli have been transformed into cool avenues with plenty of shade, which speak volumes about the work done by Dr. Madhavan and Subramaniam. Those interested in making their surroundings greener can contact 4937060.

PRASANNA SRINIVASAN

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