This is the mantra that members of the Residents Association of Green Fort, a gated colony at Pachapalayam swear by. Vaibhav Shastry reports

G. Swaminathan has thought of a new way to celebrate his 80th birthday. The money his son has sent him from the U.S.A will be used to plant 80 saplings in his native village, Painganadu.

A water quality analyst at King’s Institute in Guindy and at the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) here prior to his retirement, Swaminathan has a long-standing relationship with the environment.

“I spend two hours each day tending to my home garden and watering the plants. I have planted five saplings in the stretch of road outside my house over the past 14 years,” he says. Swaminathan and his wife Annapurna regularly feed peacocks which greet them outside their kitchen.

It is this attitude of living in harmony with nature that 60 residents of Green Fort, a gated colony at Pachapalayam, follow.

The 10 acre space, which was once an abandoned field, now has 200 trees and birds of various species. Residents have spotted peacocks, parakeets, mynahs, woodpeckers, cuckoos, junglefowls and bee-eaters in the vicinity. There is also a children’s park which comes alive on weekends.

“The owner wanted to make this colony green, which is how the name came about,” explains P.N. Jagannathan, former Treasurer of the Residents Association. Executive Committee members of the Association meet regularly to keep a check on the existing trees and the new ones that can be planted. We have already purchased 100 new saplings from the Forest Department and will be planting them in phases,” Jagannathan adds.

Neem, pungan, gulmohar, raintree, coppershield, pagoda and the sleeping tree are spread out over the colony, and residents grow curry and coriander leaves to add flavour to their food.

They share mangoes, sapotas, papayas, pomegranates and coconuts from their trees with their neighbours.

Flowering trees like jasmine, allamanda, hibiscus, flame of the forest and the arali add colour to the environment.

For many of the residents, waking up to the sight of green trees brightens up their day.

“I have planted many saplings outside my house, and can see them from my living room as soon as I wake up,” says R. Sankar, who has planted many medicinal plants.

Watering, pruning and maintenance of the trees are mostly done by the residents themselves. For the ladies who have retired, gardening is a full-time passion.

“I have planted both vegetable and fruit saplings outside my house which I will use for consumption later,” says Annie Doraisamy, a resident for the past 13 years.

Residents of Green Fort resolve to keep it clean, green and safe for years to come.