Tree bay Thai Mann Paadhukaapu Kazhagam works tirelessly to provide a face lift to the arid areas of Sulur and Palladam

Each of the 200 houses that make up the Aarakulam village, coming under the Paruvai Panchayat, lovingly looks after two to four saplings. M. Balasubramanian or Balu, as he is better known, has something to do with this. As the Sulur-Palladam area is particularly dry, he and his team of environmentalists who call themselves Thai Mann Paadhukaapu Kazhagam, decided to green the area. Three years ago they visited Aarakulam in the Paruvai Panchayat and convinced the inhabitants to plant saplings around their homes. The villagers readily agreed and have faithfully nurtured the young plants. The greening has given their till-recently-arid village a facelift.

Not too far from Arakulam, on Trichy Road, near Karnampettai, is another blossoming lung space coming up thanks to Balu. Five acres of land belonging to the Highways Department was being used as a massive dumping area. The stench was unbearable, and according to Balu one choked walking past that stretch. But when the panchayat gave Thai Mann Paadhukaapu Kazhagam the permission, he and his friends reclaimed that land, cleaned it up and fenced it in. They then planted 500 saplings of native species that are taking firm root there. Thai Mann Paadhukaapu Kazhagam raised funds to clean up that land, procure saplings and install drip irrigation, besides enclosing the area with a 3,000-foot fencing.

Balu is constantly on the lookout for dry and bare land where they can grow trees. He has persuaded industrial sites and housing colonies to do the same and plans to continue to do so in the future. The aim is to create a green cover in agricultural land, housing layouts, industrial sites, poramboke land and schools and colleges. Thai Mann Paadhukaapu Kazhagam has also bought a vehicle that is used only for the purpose of greening the area. It is also loaned to villagers who need it in an emergency. “It is all free. We never use it for a commercial purpose,” says Balu.

How green is your neighbourhood? Write in to if you know of any individuals, institutions or colonies that take pride in their trees.