Downtown

The entire city is their garden

Dr. Madhavan (right) and Subramanian have been distributing free saplings to people through their environment society of Mandaveli in Chennai. Photo: M. Vedhan   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

Over 25 years ago, R. Madhavan, a doctor, and V. Subramaniam, now a retired RBI officer, found a common ground. It had to do greening the neighbourhood and physical fitness.

They are still standing together on this common ground and continue to do what first brought them together.

They met each other at TAMBRASS and hit it off nicely. The friends wanted to spend sometime with each other, get some exercise and also help the green cause. They did something praiseworthy. The two went about planting tree saplings across the streets of the neighbourhood, Mandaveli.

But it was no easy job. “We had to face resistance from residents who didn’t want tress to be grown outside their compound walls. It was a struggle getting everyone on board.

Wherever we got permission, we would plant a tree,” say the duo, for whom gardening has been a passion always. The started an environmental society and have now planted trees in various parts of Chennai and placed the residents in charge of the maintenance of the tress outside their houses. After 15 years, 25,000 tree saplings have been planted. Today, these full-grown tress are giving the neighbourhood a lush green look.

But advancing age meant the two had to stop the practice. “We were ageing and could not go around with shovels planting trees,” says Madhavan.

400 saplings in a month

They instead started giving away free saplings to people wishing to plant them in their area. For the last eight years, they have been managing to give around 400 saplings every month.

“We don’t give flowering plants, only shade-giving and avenue trees such as Badam, Banyan, Peepal, Gulmohar, Peltophorum, figs and more. We advise the people to choose a tree depending on the space available with them. You can’t grow a banyan tree in a narrow street,” they say.

The duo also want the restrictions on planting red wood and sandalwood to be lifted by the government.

“These trees are easy to grow and by nature are prolific breeders and great shade givers. Restrictions on growing them have only increased poaching,” says Madhavan.

The saplings are sourced from Madhavan’s farm in Injambakkam. “At any given time, we have 1,500 saplings ready at the farm,” he says.

On the survival of these trees, he says, “It is a wrong concept that trees are permanent. Urban trees will live up to a maximum of 25 years. The idea is to keep renewing the plantation. We must plant them faster than we lose them.” To get a sapling, contact Subramanian at 2493 8368 and Madhavan at 9840472623.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 12:30:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/the-entire-city-is-their-garden/article7092761.ece

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