Madhava Ullal of the city reached a milestone on Sunday, when he planted six amla plants near Hampanakatta signal here to make the number of saplings planted by him 4,500. But, he thinks he has miles to go before achieving his target of planting one crore saplings.
A pigmy collector by profession, he realised 14 years ago that there was a need to increase the number of trees as they gave shade. Initially, he did not have a vehicle as he has now. He had to walk long distances for work. He then realised how important trees were to pedestrians.
His logic is simple: just think of how you feel on a sunny day after days of cool weather. “You feel the weather is unbearable.” One need not think of global warming to plant trees, he said.
When he began his mission 14 years ago, people ridiculed him. Today, people appreciate him and realise he is preventing global warming in his own way.
His outstanding achievement was planting of 2,000 saplings along the road leading from Thokkottu to Rani Abbakadevi Circle in Ullal, and further up to Someshwar, in 2003. About 60 per cent of the trees planted by him have survived and grown tall. Mr. Ullal plans to plant more trees in this sector to ensure that a row of trees is there on either side.
He recently planted fruit-yielding varieties at the Mahalingeshwara temple, Kunjathur, in Kasargod district of Kerala. He has also planted saplings on the premises of more than 10 temples and five schools.
Mr. Ullal is particularly concerned about the mangroves which he thinks are hubs of biodiversity. He had submitted a plan to the Government requesting it to partner with him to grow mangroves that even prevented sea erosion. Eight years later, he is yet to get a reply.
He said he and his friends had a tough time in convincing the municipal authorities to place concrete rings near Hampanakatta Circle to prepare the ground for planting saplings on Friday. But for the backing of Mayor K. Shankar Bhat, it could not have been possible, he said.
One person to be convinced of Mr. Ullal’s contribution is daily wage employee of the Forest Department B. Harish, who usually accompanies him each time he plants saplings. “In a few months from now, you will see flowers in that tree,” Mr. Harish said, pointing to a tree near Hampanakatta.
He told The Hindu that he had sought the permission of the city corporation to plant trees on the Bejai-Lalbagh Road, Bendorewell-Pumpwell Road, and Kuloor-Kavoor Road, but the request had been turned down.
He completed planting 4,500 saplings on Sunday