Lesson in greening: Karnataka university plants 10,000 saplings
A group of like-minded organisations, led by the Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University, is on a mission to convert a piece of land into a green space
GADAG : At a time when modernisation is taking a toll on the environment because of indiscriminate felling of trees, here in the northern plains of Gadag district, a group of organisations is on a mission to turn a patch of land into a lush green forest. The Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University (KSRDPRU), in association with the Sankalpa Rural Development Society and SBI Foundation, are working on the project, aptly named ‘Jana Vana’ (people’s forest), to develop the
forest on the laps of Kappatagudda — known for its medicinal plants.
The university owns 350 acres of land close to Nagavi village near Kappatagudda. The university management committee was informed that 125 acres were not suitable for any construction and the committee, guided by Vice-Chancellor Prof Vishnukant Chatapplli, decided to set aside 10 acres for afforestation. The university joined hands with Sankalpa and SBI Foundation to plant saplings of various species not just to revive biodiversity, but also to increase the oxygen cover of the campus.
On World Environment Day (June 5) in 2022, the idea finally took off and planting of saplings gained momentum from June 25. Till now, close to 10,000 saplings have been planted and the target is to plant 15,000. The aim is to nurture social forestry, which is the practice of making use of unused and fallow lands to safeguard deeper forests from exploitation. Saplings like gali mara (she-oak), nelli (gooseberry), honge (pongamia), Basavanapada (bauhinia pupurea) and mahogany have been planted.
The team waters the saplings every day and has built a tank to store water. It has erected a fence around Jana Vana to prevent cattle and other animals from entering the forest. “We have converted the 10-acre stretch into a green belt. The SBI Foundation will take care of the saplings for two years,” says a university employee, who is part of the afforestation campaign.
Sikandar Meeranayak from Sankalpa says, “We are now taking care of the plants as it is a little difficult to maintain them during summer. We are now using tankers to water the saplings and also created an artificial pond. We thank the university management for involving us in the project and also thank the SBI Foundation for funding it.”
The forest also harbours a wide species of birds. “This is a noble cause that the university has taken up. Till recently, the land was barren and full of weed. But now it is home to several bird species. This area is near the road transport office and people come here for their morning walk,” says Pradeep Hadimani, a green activist from Gadag.
Siddalingesh, coordinator, of SBI Foundation, says, “We started this unique forestry initiative to promote afforestation. It envisages rejuvenation, and protection of existing forests through the plantation of local species for restoring ecological balance.”
Vice-Chancellor Prof Vishnukant Chatpalli says, “Gandhian and Vivekananda thoughts represent the university. We wanted to contribute to society. We have been planting fruit-bearing and other species of trees with the assistance of foresters. To enhance the green cover, we have signed an agreement with the SBI Foundation and they will maintain it. We have named it Jana Vana and it is a public participation programme which is useful for all of us who live near this area and this forest is one of the important factors for the good quality air here.”