Kannur teacher’s eco-friendly project grows leaps & bounds

Driven by a deep commitment to conserve the environment, Dileep aims to plant 1,927 plants by next year.
A hotel owner planting a sapling in front of his shop
A hotel owner planting a sapling in front of his shop Photo | Express

KOZHIKODE: Sometimes, a simple idea can work wonders. P Dileep, a Botany teacher at Rajiv Gandhi Higher Secondary School in Kannur, can vouch for it.

The teacher has set an example with his simple, yet ground-breaking initiative, ‘Oru Chaya, Oru Chola’ (One tea, one shade), which encourages using waste water from shops, particularly hotels, to nurture plants. The initiative has captivated the local community, and over 614 commercial establishments in Kannur and neighbouring districts are now re-purposing the water that their customers use for washing hands, to nourish plants in their surroundings.

Dr Dileep, who is also a plant taxonomist – one who classifies and names plants – distributes saplings for free to shops willing to adopt the eco-friendly practice.

Driven by a deep commitment to conserve the environment, Dileep aims to plant 1,927 plants by next year. The ambitious target is his tribute to Sunderlal Bahuguna, a noted environmentalist and leader of the Chipko movement who was born in 1927. “Every year, environmental clubs, government institutions and even the forest department plant hundreds of saplings across the state.

However, the enthusiasm shown in planting the saplings is often not seen when it comes to maintaining them. My focus is not just on planting or distributing saplings, but on ensuring they grow into beautiful trees that can be home to hundreds of birds,” said Dileep. He said through ‘Oru Chaya, Oru Chola’, he aims to monitor the growth of the saplings whenever possible and educate those who plant them on how to care for them properly.

According to Dileep, the initiative has drawn an encouraging response. He said some shop and hotel owners, for want of space, even removed concrete slabs or flooring on their premises to plant a sapling. “I am committed to seeing these saplings grow and thrive, transform our surroundings and provide a haven for wildlife. Together, we can significantly impact our environment,” he said.

For distribution, Dileep focuses on species like ‘Ashokam’, as they would benefit thousands of birds in future. His vision extends beyond mere greenery; it is about creating a sustainable habitat for wildlife and enhancing biodiversity. In a special event on June 5, World Environment Day, Dileep plans to expand ‘Oru Chaya Oru Chola’ across the state, aiming to inspire more people to join the cause.

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