Members of the Noiyal Green Foundation involve the villagers and tribals of Karumathampatti in their greening initiatives

For the past two years, villagers of Kittampalayam have been celebrating Deepavali sans the noise and pollution of firecrackers. Bats, cattle egrets and mynahs, which can be spotted aplenty in these villages, have remained safe in their habitat, at a time when many urban birds have to contend with the deafening noise and pollution. They have a team of eco-conscious people to thank for this.

Members of Noiyal Green Foundation (NGF), an NGO started in Somanur in 2008, have been enlightening the villagers and tribals in Kittampalayam, Karumathampatti and other neighbouring villages about the impact firecrackers have on the lives of birds, the advantages of planting saplings and the need to preserve the environment.

“As children, we would never hesitate to drink the water from the Noyyal; it was so pure. Over the years, the levels of pollution have increased. The water is no longer safe to drink,” says R. Palanisamy, NGF president.

This prompted Palanisamy and seven of his friends from neighbouring villages to form an organisation through which villagers could be involved in preserving and improving the environment around them. Because they were from the area, they understood local issues better, and bonded well with the villagers. The first step was planting saplings in Sellappampalayam on Independence Day in 2008.

Door-to-door campaigns

Eight core members of the organisation started by going door-to-door in Kittampalayam, distributing flyers and screening documentaries about the environment. It was not all smooth sailing, though. The team realised that hunting of animals and birds as a hobby was rampant in this village. “The villagers were hunting down deer, peacocks and sparrows. While deer were being killed for their antlers, peacocks and sparrows were being roasted and sold as a delicacy at a few restaurants in Tirupur,” recalls T. Prabhakaran, NGF vice-president.

The members tried different methods to persuade the villagers to stop these activities. “We would threaten to hand them over to the Forest Department officials. On other occasions, we would offer them money to keep them away from hunting,” he says. That helped put an end to hobby hunting.

The NGO also works with the 149 Battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) at Kittampalayam, and has planted 5,200 saplings in the village. Their initiatives have rubbed off on the next generation as well. “My elder son passes on the message to his school friends, and many of them have kept away from noisy firecrackers. My younger son, a Class IV student, is following in his footsteps,” says a proud Palanisamy.

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