CHENNAI: Around 40 years ago a young boy asked his grandfather why he planted trees all along the edge of his fields. The answer gave him the reason to plant 89 lakh saplings since then. “Trees,” his grandfather told him, “are life.”
For G Mullaivanam, founder of the Tree Bank Trust, that simple understanding served as the root of the organisation’s conception. “Ever since I could reason and think things through for myself, I have realised the truth of what my grandfather said,” he says.
He was 13 then and Mullaivanam, now 47, admits that he is consumed by the desire to do his bit for the planet - “a planet we are actively destroying”.
What does he see as his ‘bit for the planet’? “Trees. I knew we had to start planting and growing them. In our homes, our offices, everywhere,” he declares.
The Tree Bank Trust came together as a concept and an organisation in early 2007. And seven years later they have given out/planted more than 89 lakh saplings. This year alone, Mullaivanam wants to see more than a lakh of trees take root. “People still don’t see what they are doing to the planet. If a neighbour’s tree grows over their yard, they fight!” he points out, bemused.
The inability of the general public to realise the gravity of the situation is why Mullaivanam says the new government has to take a more active role in the environmental balancing act. And putting a limit on fuel consumption, vehicle use and making sure a tree is planted for every 50cc of IC engines in use are some of the things he wants the government to implement.
“If the government and its departments would only take a more serious approach, we wouldn’t have half the problems we have now,” he says. “The regulations for environmental protection are all there. They just aren’t implemented properly.”
As for the statement by the new Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar, indicating fast-track environmental clearances for infra projects, the eco-warrior doesn’t see a big problem, “If, and only if, those licences are given conforming to the regulations.”