ANDHRA PRADESH

`Green March' major draw

NOBLE MISSION:

NOBLE MISSION: "Green March" members at a camp in Nalgonda on Thursday.  

S.Ramu

NALGONDA: Political leaders had to resort to all types of gimmicks to draw crowds during their campaign for the municipal elections. But a group of some 50 youngsters sporting green scarves were accorded a rousing reception by villagers, schoolchildren and college students in the villages in Nalgonda district.

Inspired by the overwhelming public support for their cause, they trekked 989 km during the last 45 days.

The message during the `Green March' launched by the young environmentalist, S.Nagasena Reddy, was loud and clear: "Vruksho Rakshati Rakshitaha" (If you protect trees, trees will protect you). Giving a sentimental touch, the team made the students plant "Sneha vrukshaalu" (friendship trees) in remembrance of their closest pals. The yatra that covered all the 59 mandals will come to an end at a public meeting here in a day or two, albeit on a sad note.

Saplings inadequate

"We could plant only 7,000 saplings as against the target of 1 lakh," Mr.Nagasena told The Hindu on Thursday. "Non availability of saplings is the main reason. Had the Forest Department cooperated well, we would have planted at least 25,000 saplings," he said.

The team spent Rs.4.6 lakhs to meet food and other expenditure. A bio-diesel vehicle, sponsored by the Southern On-line Bio Technologies to transport utensils and luggage, was the centre of attraction. Of the 45-member team, 14 are students, who had given a break to their studies to take part in the march.

Summing up his experiences, Mr.Nagaesena said: "Though there are several problems such as child labour, illiteracy and poverty, the spread of HIV is at highly dangerous levels. A good number of children have become orphans because their parents died due to the dreaded virus," he said.

`Wonderful experience'

The head of the cultural troupe, G.Swamy, of the Praja Natya Mandali, said the Green March was a wonderful experience for the entire team. "The response was overwhelming and our cultural shows could inspire all," he added. Mr.Nagasena is planning to mobilize resources to open a hostel for children who had lost their parents to AIDS.

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