TIRUNELVELI: The open wounds of Kavalkinaru have almost healed, thanks to a group of youth who worked tirelessly to bring greenery back to the sand dunes.
In July last year, Express had carried a report ‘The open wounds of Kavalkinaru’ and it spoke about the youth who fought against illegal mining in the red sand dunes the village bordering Kanniyakumari. After successfully saving Theri Kadu (red sand dunes), the group began planting trees in areas once occupied by bulldozers and lorries.
A Ajith (22), who had actively participated in protecting the sand dunes, said, “The lorries that used to carry sand from the dunes have disappeared and more people are visiting the area these days.”
Not only did the illegal mining destroy the topography of the centuries-old dunes, but it also led to trees being ripped off from its surface.
“Over the years, mining of sand from the dunes for brick kilns and other purposes had reduced most of the dunes to pits. Numerous trees were felled in the process,” another youth said.
X Christopher (30), a social activist from the village, said although they were able to stop illegal mining with the help of authorities and the media, most dunes are now barren pits. To heal these pits that scar the red hilly terrain of Kavalkinaru, the group have started to plant trees. However, with water scarcity and drought still haunting the district, the fate of saplings are uncertain.
Christopher said about 50 of the 100 saplings they planted this summer has already wilted. The group is, however, making all efforts to nurture the remaining trees. Further they are planting more, in phases.“As saplings will not be able to withstand the drought, we have started planting grafts. We expect that the trees will grow with the onset of monsoon,” Ajith said and added that after they planted several trees last year, youth from neighbouring villages have been volunteering to water the plants.
The group is now buying water from private suppliers to meet their needs. “A tanker costs `350. We save water in a 2,000-litre tank and use it as per our needs,” Christopher said.
He added that with the help of school students and youth, they have planted over 5,000 palm tree seeds last year. “Over a thousand germinated and they are growing now. We have started planting more saplings, including those of banyan, peepal and pungam,” he said.
C Alex, another member of the group, said around 30 to 40 youth from the village are actively involved in planting and nurturing trees in the erstwhile mines. “We do it whenever we have free time,” he added.