TIRUPPUR: The sobriquet Tree Man will fit none better than Kanagaraj of Palladam. A farmer who also runs a transport business, S Kanagaraj (49) has given new lease of life to 920 coconut trees that faced the axe.
Moved by the protests of farmers against the Powergrid Corporation of India's towerline project from Pugalur in Kangeyam to Edaryarpalayam in Coimbatore, Kanagaraj initiated a drive to save as many trees as he could by transplanting them.
"I came to know about the project in 2018 when I offered vehicles for officials of Powergrid Corporation. The project is a massive one covering over 50 kilometres and thousands of coconut trees were to be felled. I saw protests by the farmers and felt that something needed to be done."
With the project clearing all hurdles recently, Kanagaraj ran a month-long drive (May to June 2021) to save trees. "When the court ruled in favour of the project, I initiated the transplantation drive with permission from farmers. Only trees with a height of 30-35 feet alone were removed using a crane and moved in trucks. Since the coconut trees have less survival rate, we transported them within 2 hours. A total of 920 trees from Vavipalayam, Muthur, Kazhuverupalayam, Kullampalayam, Kalliyappakovundanpalayam and many villages were saved. "
Using two cranes, two earthmovers and three lorries, 15 workers completed the drive. Kanagaraj deployed his fleet of lorries and cranes whenever there was a shortage. He charged only the fuel cost from farmers and distributed the trees free of cost.
50 farmers benefitted
Former president of Vavipalayam panchayat R Parthasarathy said, "Around 2,000 coconut trees were lost to the Towerline project in Vavipalayam village alone. I lost 150 trees. But, several hundred trees were saved through transplantation. Kanagaraj transplanted over 300 coconut trees from our village. His effort was immense."
On the brighter side, as many as 50 farmers became beneficiaries of the transplantation drive. E Gopalakrishnan (40), a farmer from Palladam, said that he received 50 coconut trees from Kanagaraj.
He told TNIE, "When I saw coconut trees being taken in lorries, I was surprised. When I inquired and got to know about the transplantation, I met Kanagaraj and expressed my willingness to get the trees. Since I already had two dozen coconut trees and open space, the transplantation process was quick and easy. Initially, I thought only a few trees would survive, but to my surprise, all the transplanted trees started to rejuvenate.”