Environment Chennai

Residents make green pact with GCC

On August 6, AGS Colony Residents Welfare Association in Velachery will plant 75 tree saplings at AGS Colony to commemorate the 75th year of Indian Independence. AGS Colony Residents Welfare Association is one of many residents’ welfare associations that have expressed an interest in Greater Chennai Corporation’s (GCC) Pasumai Chennai, a citizens-driven initiative that aims to enhance the city’s green cover. The exercise is among the various initiatives being undertaken by GCC to beautify Chennai.

In the past week, GCC’s zonal officers were holding meetings with residents’ welfare associations in their zones to persuade them to start a greening exercise in their colonies

“Prior to this, the Corporation carried out mass cleaning in various localities; posters were removed from public spaces including flyovers, subways and compound walls of schools; and also from signboards, nameboards, and bus shelters. Further, walls in public spaces are being adorned with artworks. Now, we are approaching residents’ associations to enhance the city’s green cover by raising trees in their respective colonies,” says V Vijayakumari, zonal officer of Zone 7 (Ambattur).

On July 29, a meeting was held at Ripon Building which was attended by GCC Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi.

Under Pasumai Chennai, GCC expects residents to bear the expenses of buying and nurturing the saplings.

Though keen on taking it up, residents’ associations draw attention to some challenges.

First, the cost factor. Tree guard meshes meant for protecting the saplings will entail a lot of expenditure, contend members of these associations.

For example, to keep the costs low, the Rayala Nagar Residents Welfare Association in Ramapuram decided not to buy readymade mesh. Instead, it has bought the basic materials and will be hiring labourers to assemble them into tree-guards.

“We have sourced 50 saplings from a non-governmental organisation that were provided free of cost. Now, we have to spend just for the tree guards. The cost of a single mesh ranges from ₹150 to ₹1,500. The fence has to be at least six feet high to keep it away from the reach of cattle. So, we have bought the basic materials from a wholesale shop in Broadway. With a sponsorship of Rs. 40,000, the association bought materials weighing 200 kg,” says PV Kishore, president, Rayala Nagar Welfare Association.

Zonal Officer of Zone 8 (Anna Nagar) P Murugesan underlines that the cost of meshes is a deterrent for some residents’ associations to participate in Pasumai Chennai. Here, T.S. Saravanan, Assistant Engineer, Ward 143 of Zone 11 Valasarawakkam, suggests that instead of buying new tree guards, associations should try to get used ones. “We are also trying to help associations in finding such used tree guards,” says Saravanan.

Citing another challenge, Geetha Ganesh, secretary, AGS Colony Residents Welfare Association, points out that the Corporation stipulates a minimum of seven to eight feet tall saplings to be planted.

“But an eight feet tall sapling may cost around ₹ 850 when purchased from a private nursery. Non-governmental organisations provide saplings free of cost. But that involves waiting for an indefinite period. For this exercise, our association has set aside ₹5,000. But this amount would not suffice. Therefore, we are also approaching textile shops, jewellery shops and builders for financial support. So far, our efforts have drawn a blank. They say the pandemic has dampened their business. Hence, their inability to extend assistance,” says Geetha Ganesh.

Other challenges cited by associations are: Overhead electricity cables and stormwater drains.

“If both these amenities are found on one side of the road, then we can raise the tree on the other side. But if each of this facility runs on each side of the road, then it poses a hurdle. The Corporation also wants to leave out such roads. In that case, most of the colonies will be left with only a few roads suitable for tree planting. Hence, it is essential that electricity cables are laid underground. Fortunately, at our colony in South Jagannathan Nagar (Ward 9) in Villivakkam (Zone 8) both these facilities are found on one side of the raod. And in some roads, we have underground electricity cables,” says S Vetrivel, secretary, South Jagannathan Nagar Residents Welfare Association.

Yet another challenge cited by residents associations is parking of vehicles along the roads, especially where houses and apartments do not have parking facilities.

Greater Chennai Corporation is also helping residents by identifying for them the possibilities of sponsorships from commercial establishments.

To cite an example, with the financial support of Surya Motors, a dealer of Royal Enfield motorcycles, the office of Zone 14 (Perungudi) has bought 100 saplings at a cost of ₹10,000. “Of the 100 saplings, 50 were planted at VGP Layout (Ward 185) in Palavakkam and the remaining at Venkateshwara Nagar and AGS Colony in Kottivakkam (Ward 183). We are also trying to find sponsorship for tree-guards. Residents are expected to water and nurture the plants,” says K Dhanadayuthapani, Assistant Executive Engineer for Unit 41 in Zone 14.

Green Velachery, a volunteer group, which is engaged in planting trees across Velachery, is willing to share tree saplings with residents associations. “We are into this exercise for the past three months. We have a good stock of tree saplings. Hence, we can donate saplings to other associations free of cost,” says S. Kumararaja, a member of the group.

According to Assistant Engineer of Ward 155, V Kavitha, individuals, business establishments, healthcare institutions, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations also invited to take up this exercise.

Those interested to be a part of Pasumai Chennai call the following phone numbers to express your interest.

Chennai North- PH: 94451 90700 (Zones 1 to 5)

Chennai Central- PH: 94451 90698 (Zones 6 to 10)

Chennai South- PH: 94451 90830 (Zone 11 to 15)

List of government nurseries

1. Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency, Arul Nagar, Madhavaram Milk Colony Road, Madhavaram

PH: 75020 32527

2. Forest Extension Office, Velachery Main Road, Medavakkam

PH: 94435 58051

3. Forest Range Office, G Block, Second Street, Anna Nagar

PH: 84899 28088

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:12:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/residents-make-green-pact-with-gcc/article35654211.ece

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