India can emerge as the bread basket of the world if only we can revert the natural elements of soil, river and air to their natural quality. The Indian subcontinent is the most fertile land in the world with its per-cubic-foot of soil having more than 10,000 microorganisms, said Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha Foundation, addressing the Inter-city General Forum (ICGF) in Bengaluru, an annual event of RID 3190.
He formally launched Koti Nati, an ambitious project of planting one crore saplings in the Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts of Karnataka over a three-year period.
The time had come to fix our ecological problems and Mother Earth must be nurtured back to health if we want humanity to be energised and creatively occupied. If the present crisis is not tackled, around 40 per cent of India’s total land will have natural manure of less than 2 per cent with disastrous consequences, said the Sadhguru. Citing the success achieved in creating awareness through Rally for Rivers campaign across the country, he said, “it should be a decade of action to revive rivers by planting trees on the banks and water basins instead of creating check dams or storage tanks.” He said 35 per cent of India’s land area must have green cover to rejuvenate the soil and dying rivers. The Isha Foundation has given a 76-page recommendation to Niti Ayog which is being circulated to all States for taking proactive steps to restore rivers.
He pointed out that only 4 per cent of the rivers originate from the Himalayan glaciers and the rest are created from within the country.
The Sadhguru urged Rotary to take part in the Cauvery Calling movement which he will launch this September. “Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments have agreed to be part of this massive campaign to revive at least 34 per cent of the Cauvery basin which has gone dry by strengthening and nourishing the tributaries that feed this huge watershed,” he said.
In his address on the theme Dare to Dream, RC Bangalore Orchards President D Ravishankar said Koti Nati (one crore plantations) has two components — one crore plantations in the two districts over two phases and dispersal of 10 crore seed balls on the barren hills of the Eastern Ghats to revive five rivers which had totally dried up. “Koti Nati will be the perfect cure for the green challenges facing us — climate change, global warming and plastic menace.”
He said the club is also working on the Rally for Peace campaign from Kanyakumari to Wagah border which will kick-off from Sep–Oct this year with the aim to forge better Indo-Pak relations.
Koti Nati Project Mentor K Amaranarayana, a former IAS officer, said 36 lakh saplings were ready for plantations across the 1.5 lakh acres in the two districts and it will benefit about 40,000 farmers in 313 gram panchayats. “These saplings will be planted by July 15 before the onset of monsoon, with the balance taken up in the second phase.”
A 14-month campaign was done through advocacy, awareness and publicity drives among farmers of the two districts. “We have received 20 lakh applications from Chikkaballapur farmers and are collecting the same from Kolar as they too are eager to be part of Koti Nati,” said the mentor. Planting will be done on government land, schools, offices and on roads, burial grounds, etc.
DG pats ICGF chair
Community service is the heartthrob of Rotary and this forum has done well to display and disseminate the projects and activities of the district clubs through 80 exhibition panels and 15 stalls at the pavilion, said DG Suresh Hari. He complimented ICGF Committee Chairman Mahadev Dambal and District Community Services Director B K Bhaskar for organising the mega event that created a record in the number of registrations.
Listing out the district projects, Bhaskar said, “we saw a big leap in blood donation camps and health camps this year. We have collected around 45,000 units of blood.” Whether it is Happy Schools, building toilet blocks, anganwadi support or rebuilding schools, the district clubs have taken performance to a new level, he noted. So far, 50,000 eye camps were held for children, besides 1,000 cataract procedures, 5,000-plus dialysis sessions and 10,000 paediatric heart surgeries at the Jayadeva Hospital.
DGE Dr Sameer Hariani administered a pledge to the delegates that they would nurture Mother Earth with each Rotarian planting 100 saplings in the neighbourhood and make all efforts to take Koti Nati to other parts of the world.
PDG Dr S Nagendra spoke on the medical missions to Africa undertaken by Indian doctors and volunteers. Three parallel sessions on the six focus areas of Rotary preceded the main event. Hosted by RC Rajmahal Vilas, the conclave was attended by 1,500 delegates from 100 clubs in the district.
Club President Rajaram Krishnamurthy welcomed the delegates.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran
An ambitious greening project
With the Karnataka government extending its support to the afforestation project, the MNREGA funds will be routed through gram panchayats for planting saplings in their jurisdiction, said Project Mentor K Amaranarayana. The Paola Dakoju Ravishankar Foundation has given ₹1 crore as seed money for this project.
“The tag of Hasiru (green) Conservation programme of the State will be extended to Koti Nati too and funds will be drawn from this official scheme. Apart from donations from the clubs and Rotarians, we are also tapping CSR funds,” said Rtn Neil Michael Joseph. His company, Baghirathi Travels, will contribute generously and manage the logistics part of Koti Nati in the two districts.
The planting of one crore saplings is expected to be completed by July 2020. RC Bangalore Orchards has roped in district magistrate offices, gram panchayats and the Forest Department for the plantation drive. “During the year-long pre-launch campaign, we engaged farmers, district officials and distributed booklets and pamphlets to the villagers for creating awareness,” he said.
To green the hills, “we will seed bomb the barren mountains spread across the two districts either by an IAF chopper, glider or drones,” said D Ravishankar. As the cost of a seed ball is ₹1, ten crore seed balls would cost ₹10 crore, and “we will bear this cost as well as the cost of dispersal.” After planting one crore saplings in the two districts, “we will repeat the same in Tumkur and Chamarajanagar districts,” he said.