Madurai

Bringing Madurai under a green canopy, one sapling at a time

Students planting a sapling at a school in Madurai on Wednesday.

Students planting a sapling at a school in Madurai on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: S. James

Students of government schools join hands with NGO and Arogya Welfare Trust.

On Wednesday afternoon, at least 20 students of Othakadai Government Girls Higher Secondary School in their beige school uniforms and green ‘Eco Club’ caps lined up in front of trees assigned to them and poured a bucket of water each.

“We usually come at 9 a.m. to school and immediately rush to check if our trees are growing properly. We also swing by in the evening and pour a second bucket before we head home,” says U. Umeswari of Class 7.

She is part of a project started by Vaa Nanba, a non-governmental organisation focused on increasing Madurai’s green cover, and Arogya Welfare Trust, a wing of TVS group.

Started a week ago, the project aims at increasing responsibility among school students to take charge of the environment and plant more trees. It has been designed to incentivise tree planting by providing a prize at the end of the year to see whose tree has grown the most.

Vaa Nanba has assigned students to work in teams of twos and threes to achieve the mission at Othakadai Government Girls Higher Secondary School and Uthangudi government school.

M.C. Saravanan, a coordinator, says the aim is to plant a total of 600 saplings by the end of the year. Members of Arogya Welfare Trust and the NGO worked together on how to take the project forward and decided that they would populate the Uthangudi-Othakadai stretch with green cover on both sides.

“We have seen massive tree felling this year near Kalavasal junction because of construction of the elevated flyover. Since Madurai is losing its tree cover, we decided it was only right that we take matters into our own hands and work with the younger generation to ensure the little greenery we have left can be augmented,” he adds.

At present, they have approached two schools and have planted 50 saplings in total. All saplings are indigenous to Madurai and aim to increase the amount of oxygen available. The team and the students have planted several Kadamba trees or burflower-tree and millettia pinnata or Pungai trees on the two campuses.

Says H. Pankajam, Headmistress of Othakadai Government Girls Higher Secondary School: “The project will be useful for students as it will create a canopy for them in school. We have an open auditorium. The entire campus is fairly green. If more trees grow, we can have a cool and shady area in case we wish to host programmes."

M. Anuradha, Assistant Headmistress says classes also take place under the shade of the tree on balmy days when conditions are appropriate. “We also host yoga and mass drills here."

Several children can be seen learning math lessons and performing activities around tree stumps and on corridors, an encouraging sign.

S. Muthuvel, the Coordinator of Eco Clubs in Melur Educational District says students are taught to plant trees in the school as well.

"We teach them to dig pits for trees and tell them the optimal height needed for each sapling. We also explain to them about the difference between flowering and non- flowering trees at their school," he says.

Tree guards have been put up around stumps to ensure that the saplings are not damaged.

Incentive

"At the end of the year, the school with the maximum number of grown trees and the team with the best grown tree will receive prizes. Others will also receive mementos to keep the effort going," he adds.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:26:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/bringing-madurai-under-a-green-canopy-one-sapling-at-a-time/article29720533.ece

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