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Updated: June 14, 2013 16:02 IST

The house of sandal

PRINCE FREDERICK
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UNUSUAL PASSION Jaswant and Taranjeet Singh against the backdrop of sandalwood trees
UNUSUAL PASSION Jaswant and Taranjeet Singh against the backdrop of sandalwood trees

Love for greenery prompted Jaswant Singh to grow sandalwood trees in the backyard of his house

Jaswant Singh and Taranjeet Singh are ‘sandalwood stars’. No, they are no threat to Sudeep or any of the other bigwigs of the Kannada film industry. The father-son duo grows sandalwood trees in a spacious garden attached to their house in Mogappair and this quirky activity has brought them a lot of attention.

Fifty-year-old Jaswant explains he has a green thumb, a fact testified by the elaborate work that has gone into creating two towering walls of green. One of the 20 feet walls, allowed to be overrun with creepers, is made of stones. The other is a patchwork of aluminium sheets. They mark part of the property’s boundaries. Against these imposing structures stand nine sandalwood trees, ranging from two feet to 18 ft in height, whose thin light-green leaves are set off by the darker green of the creepers.

Jaswant, who runs construction and photography businesses, allowed his fascination for sandalwood trees take root in his garden two and a half years after doing some quick research about them.

“We bought saplings from Salem after we learnt that the curbs on growing these trees on private property had been lifted. We are aware that cutting and sale of these trees, even those grown on private lands, are still regulated by the Forest Department,” he says.

In 2002, the State Government effected amendments to the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882, to allow sandalwood trees to be grown on patta land and also laid down the condition that those grown in this manner should be sold only to the Government.

Details of how these trees should be extracted and given to the Government and those of pricing are mentioned in the Tamil Nadu Sandalwood Trees Patta Land, 2008.

“I grow these trees because of my love for greenery and not for profit,” says Jaswant, who has taken the trouble of getting the soil that support these trees. His work of tending to these trees is made easier by an understanding family, especially his son. Twenty-two-year-old Taranjeet says the trees get the best possible care, a claim supported by its healthy-looking leaves.

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