There is a noticeable dip in temperature as soon as you enter the campus of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham at Ettimadai. What was once barren land, with just one neem tree and two tamarind trees 20 years ago has turned into a green haven replete with trees, flowers, fruits, birds and animals. The 500 acre campus of the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham now has one lakh trees of 215 different species, a separate section for medicinal plants and a greenhouse where seedlings are nurtured. This is thanks to the persistent efforts of the environmental experts, academic staff and students of the university.
The Centre for Environmental Studies at the university has experts supervising the systematic planting of trees, a combination of native and exotic species. Emphasis is on preservation of as many trees as possible, and most of the saplings planted at the start remain standing. The existence of each tree is documented with it’s biological and common names placed on a green board. “We discourage people from cutting any tree on the campus. The regular maintenance of the trees has led to a significant increase in the water table of the village,” says Brahmachari Abhayamrita Chaitanya, pro-chancellor of the university. Palm, bamboo, neem, banyan, coconut, fruit bearing trees like the jamun, mango, chickoo and flowering trees like flame of the forest, golden shower, red water lily, arali and many others dot the picturesque campus. Mynahs, peacocks, owls, parrots, cormorants and animals such as deer, mongoose, wild boars and elephants have been spotted in the vast campus.
The Oushadha Vanam has over a hundred medicinal trees, shrubs and herbs which will ensure that the staff and students will rarely have to step outside the campus for treatment. A Nakshatra Vanam has 27 trees assigned to each zodiac star sign. There are gardens landscaped in different styles to add beauty to the green cover. The Prakriti Samrakshana Samiti (Nature Club) of the university has 300 students chipping in, planting saplings and personally tending to them in their spare time.
“We screen documentaries on nature for the students. It is not just the students but even the villagers staying nearby who get involved in maintaining the healthy green cover in and around the campus,” says Dr. M. Aravindakshan, co-ordinator, Centre for Environmental Studies. With an aim to plant 60 lakh saplings all over the country to commemorate the 60th birthday of Mata Amritanandamayi, the onus is on greening.
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