VIRUDHUNAGAR: It all began during the first Covid lockdown. Taking a leaf out of their mother's book, Arun(25) and Shrikanth(22) from Kallamanaickerpatti of Vembakottai planted two saplings. A year later, this little hobby of theirs has taken root. In fact, in 48 hours spread between January 21 and 26, they planted 5,000 tree saplings.
For the brothers and their family, the dream now is to encircle their district in green cover.
Shrikanth, a polymer technology graduate and a jack of many trades, is a national-level cyclist. He roped in his brother Arun (a software engineer based in Chennai) to accompany him on a 2,000-kilometre-long 'Cycling for recycling' trip from Kanyakumari to Mumbai in October 2019.
"We covered the distance in 11 days and held awareness camps on proper disposal of plastics and methods to recycle them in 25 institutions," said Shrikanth.
The duo has received an appreciation certificate from the India Book of Records for being 'Efficacious Cyclists'. Recently, they also found a place in the International Book of Records for the "Longest Cycling Campaign to Plant Maximum Number of Trees".
Their cycle journey came to a halt when the lockdown was imposed. The duo's family took up gardening and it later turned out to be their pet project.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Arun said they combined cycling and sapling plantation in the project. "We planted nearly 5,000 saplings of 30 kinds of tree in 48 hours, between January 21 and 26. We worked eight hours per day," he added.
With saplings on their bicycles and a vision pedalling them ahead, the brothers planted the saplings near temples, government offices and government hospitals in the district. They also looked for individuals who shared their vision and handed them some saplings. The youngsters sought the support of MGNREGS workers for digging.
"We maintain the saplings by coordinating with the locals and pay them a visit occasionally. At least 90 per cent of the saplings have grown into trees. This was possible because we plant the saplings based on the soil type," said Arun.
Funds were raised from private sponsors. They pooled in their own money too. The brothers also run a non-profit organisation named 'N-India' in a bid to create environmental changes and awareness about plastic usage.
"We are planning to take our dream to other districts and with the help of volunteers, we can increase the green cover in Tamil Nadu," said the brothers.