Ward 56, off Avanashi Road, hopes to get even cooler as its lanes and by lanes are lined with trees, some just planted and others fully grown.
“There are 100 wards in Coimbatore, and there is space in each one of them to plant 5,000 trees. But even if they planted a thousand each, that would add up to one lakh. It is not a very expensive proposition and it is certainly not impossible.” Ex-deputy Mayor Karthik should know what he is talking about. He has planted more than 2,000 saplings in ward 56 where his wife Ilanjalvi Karthik is the councillor.
Annanagar Thittasalai is roughly the area behind the Fun Republic Mall. The wide road, which is also a link between Trichy Road and Avanashi Road is well maintained, has no pot holes and is yet-to-be-dug-up. The only eye-sore is the malodorous grey gloop that flows sluggishly by its side. But, if you care to count, nearly a 100 saplings have been planted on the bank of the drain. They are protected so that cattle does not get to them. “In two to three years, there will be ample shade here, and it will be a lot cooler,” Karthik assures us. The neem, poongan, poovarasu, mandharai and naaval were planted on September 15, 2012.
Since then, they have been weeded and watered and well looked after. People have been employed to weed and clean the area once a week. Taps at intermittent gaps provide the water, and where the hose does not reach, buckets are employed. Before the saplings were planted, the entire length was used to dump garbage. Now, it is clean. A person is deputed there in the mornings to see that no one litters or damages the plants. It is astonishing how many people, without giving it a thought, break off the branches, says Karthik.
More trees greet us as we turn into the colony off the link road. Ilanjalvi takes us to a park (there are seven parks in this ward). We hear the thwack of racquets hitting the shuttle cock. And the measured thud of feet as walkers and joggers use the path around the badminton court. It is green with flowering trees and neermaruthu. We visit one more park, even prettier. It has a water body in the centre and a walking path goes around it, with swatches of green lawn and colourful bougainvillea and golden shower trees on the periphery. Hundreds of saplings are kept there waiting to be transported and planted at various places in the ward. “The people in most of the streets look after the trees. They water them and we take regular rounds to monitor their growth. If any sapling dies or has been uprooted, we replace it immediately,” says Ilanjalvi.
“The early mornings and evenings are filled with birdsong,” she says.