Painting the World Green

“I have to plant at least one sapling every day, otherwise I don’t get a sound sleep that night,” says Mullaivanam, a businessman and an avid environment-enthusiast who is promoting tree-planting through his Tree-Bank in Sriperumbudur.Introduced in 2008, the tree-bank is a voluntary association of environmental conservation activists and volunteers who give away free saplings to anybody who seeks them.

Mullaivanam is one of the seven trustees who have set up this Tree-Bank. “We have requests pouring in from schools, colleges, from families for birthdays and other special occasions. We coordinate home deliveries within the city, but mostly we suggest spots which are conducive for planting and meet people here. We agree to part with the saplings only when we get a commitment from the other party to take care of the plant.”

“We receive large orders from individuals as well as public and private organizations. Since we do
not have the necessary transport to deliver across cities, we take utmost care in packaging the
plants. In case of bulk orders, we ask the receivers to prepare the planting slots prior to delivery of
the saplings,” says Mullaivanam.

For Mullaivanam, nature is mankind’s first mother. He says: “When a child is born, even before the mother holds and nourishes the child, it is Mother Nature who provides the first nourishment—air for the child to breathe and water. A cradle is made out of wood and so is a coffin. It pains me to see how we as a race have destroyed so much of nature’s bounty. Every day I wake up thinking what I am going to do to nourish the earth?”

Such deep-felt concern for nature was instilled in him since his early days. Reminiscing his childhood, he says, “My Grandfather and father were both farmers. Although I was raised in the city, I would always accompany my grandfather in his daily gardening chores. He was always planting saplings around the house. He would simply collect any leftover seeds from the fruits and vegetables that we ate at home and sow them. He would recycle old rubber tyres, plastic-covers, containers, and coconut shells, and use them as flower pots. It is from him that I learnt how easy this can be, and now it is a habit that I enjoy continuing.”

According to Mullaivanam, donation of a sapling is the best form of help. “I believe that every other
kind of donation serves merely as a means to satisfy man’s selfish motives. Tree-donation alone helps build a safer, more vibrant world not just for mankind, but for all living creatures on the planet,” he opines.

When Mullaivanam and his friends go about tree-planting, the passersby are largely indifferent. Some ask why, but only a few care to find out how to do it themselves. It is for this reason that Mullaivanam has taken up the responsibility of spreading this message to the society. He visits schools, colleges, and corporate houses along with his friends to talk about the necessity for tree-planting exercises. He also lobbies with the government to bring about systems that would encourage the general public to engage in tree planting.

“I would suggest that for every two wheeler that is purchased, the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) must insist the buyer to plant and maintains two saplings, and in the case of a four-wheeler, to plant and maintain four saplings,” says Mullaivanam. Another idea that he proposes is to divert waste water from roadside eateries to water trees that are planted on the sides of main roads. “Instead of letting stinking waste water run along the road or into the drain, why not recycle it?” he asks. He reckons that most states in our country are in sheer negligence. He cites the examples of Kerala and Karnataka who have taken care to maintain greenery in their state. For a man of such passion towards nature, Mullaivanam’s family extends whole-hearted and ready support.

“My son and daughter accompany me during most of my tree-planting drives,” he says enthusiastically. As he signs off, Mullaivanam says, “Whatever I do is just a drop in the ocean. I would love to gift a sapling to every human being on earth. Since that is not possible, I’m doing my best to reach out to people and make them environment conscious.” “No excuse can be given to not maintain a plant or a tree. All one needs is a square-foot of space in a corner of your house and one litre of water a day. Tell me, is that too difficult?” A pertinent question indeed! Let us take a cue and let us bring a plant to life today!