PERAMBALUR: Once a barren land around Pachaiamman temple in Keezhapuliyur village now looks like a mini forest. All thanks and credits to this 74-year-old farmer V Karuppaiya from the same village.
He started planting saplings about 10 years ago and now the count is more than 300 of varieties like tamarind, banyan, pipal, Jamun, etc around the temple premises and on the banks of Keezhapuliyur lake.
On seeing his effort, villagers helped him plant and maintain them. He says that he initially started planting saplings to provide shade to those visiting the temple and later it turned into an afforestation drive.
He has attached pipelines to water the saplings. The trees also serve as fodder for goats and cows, and offers many benefits for biodiversity. Besides, V Karuppaiya also cultivates maize in his two acres land.
He said, "The land around the temple was like a dry land before we planted saplings. They have all grown into trees and gives a park-like look now. Hundreds of people from across districts visit the Pachaiamman temple during the temple's chariot festival. These trees provide them good relaxation. Also, it gives clean air to the people. Also, it is home to several birds." He also plants trees in three temples in the village.
Talking about maintenance, he said, "Some people bring saplings with enclosures to help us grow more trees. Thus I am able to maintain the saplings safely. None of this is possible without the help of the people." He added that he also plants saplings in few places in Perambalur and has plans to plant more in the remaining space in the temple.
A Ajith Kumar, a resident of Keezhapuliyur said, "Earlier, there were many trees in the temple premises, but it started reducing due to construction works. Hence, we took it upon ourselves to revive the green cover."
V Karuppaiya's wife Santhosam died due to ill health two years ago and he has no children.