A sunday reverie through a miyawaki forest in TN's Virudhunagar
VIRUDHUNAGAR: "Hurry up father, I am getting late,” the 12-year-old M Elavalavan from Virudhunagar told Mookaiya on a Sunday morning at 6 am. It has been a ritual for Elavalavan to wake up early every Sunday for the past 2 years. Interestingly, it has been his own decision to wake up early on Sunday mornings, neither to study nor to play, but to plant trees.
The boy joins many other curious boys and youths in NGO Alamaram Amaipu to plant trees and create Miyawaki forests in village panchayats in the district. Founded by Pushparaj and five others in 2020, the NGO now has over 200 members from diverse backgrounds. So far, the team has managed to plant over 2,000 saplings and create three Miyawaki forests at three village panchayats, which include Thathampatti, Varalotti and Villipathri.
When he shifted to Virudhunagar from Madurai a decade ago, he saw that many villages lacked trees, due to which the villagers faced a lot of issues. That’s when he decided he would start planting trees.“Alamaram (Banyan tree) has a special feature. It can’t be uprooted easily and even if the tree tends to get destroyed, the aerial roots that grow from the branches can form a new tree. We named the NGO Alamaram Amaipu based on this feature so that even if we aren’t there, others will carry the initiative forward,” Pushparaj narrates further.
He says one of the other primary reasons for creating Miyawaki forests is to provide a livelihood for the birds. We choose a diverse set of trees to be planted to make sure that the birds get fruits from the trees throughout the year,” he says. He further says that after they plant trees, one volunteer is told to talk about what they learnt from the initiative and how it can be better.
“We are open to new volunteers as well. The students who take part in the activities tell their friends about these activities and they too join the cause. Eventually, seeing the enthusiasm of children, adults and elderly people also join the organisation,” he further says.
51-year-old K Thangaraj, SSI from Virudhunagar East station, has been a volunteer at the NGO since 2020. “Even if I have duty on Saturday night, I still decide to join the volunteers in planting trees on Sunday mornings as it gives me immense satisfaction to lend a helping hand to the children and to do something for the future as well,” he says.
In 2022, he won the Green Champion Award for his exemplary contribution in the field of Environmental Protection and Awareness. Pushparaj says, “. During summer, we have ‘Tree Maintenance Weeks’, where we carry out maintenance work wherever necessary.”
(Edited by Ashutosh Acharya)