Bengaluru, hailed as the garden city, is fast losing its green canopy; “the capital used to be a verdant paradise, a favourite retreat for families seeking respite from the heat of the surrounding southern plains,” laments Aleemula Khan, President of RC Bangalore Orchards, D 3190. Several thousand trees have been axed for widening roads and facilitating expansions in the city.
The Rotarians have undertaken social forestry, planting saplings and sowing seed balls in various locations in an attempt to regain the city’s lost green glory. “Due to space constraint in the city, we have chosen places on the outskirts. Moreover, keeping the surroundings green will help maintain the ecological balance,” he says.
Local schools, corporates and the panchayats have also partnered with the club. The forest department supplied saplings and seed balls. Schoolchildren were also involved in making the seed balls.
In the first phase, around 500 volunteers planted 10,000 saplings and scattered 30,000 seed balls for a week, over 20 acres in Gudnapura, a hillock in Arabikothnur village in Kolar.
In another location, at the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), 1,500 volunteers participated in planting 45,000 saplings and sowing three lakh seed balls over 100 acres for two days. This area is part of what is known as the ‘cyanide dumps’ that is iconic to KGF. The gold mines of KGF generated millions of tons of tailings called ‘cyanide dumps’ caused by accumulation of slurry wastes of cyanide used for extracting gold from its ore. Over the decades, fine deposits of the poisonous chemical have hardened to form cyanide dumps that dot the KGF area and are a major tourist attraction. However, they are a huge environmental hazard. Several people suffer from respiratory illness caused by the fine dust arising from the dumps; the arsenic content is affecting vegetation and animals too.
Thankfully this year monsoon was bountiful and all of us are so happy to see greenery bloom in the areas we had just worked.
– Aleemula Khan, President, RC Bangalore Orchards
When club members Neil Michael Joseph and Ravishankar D suggested to zero in on KGF as the next venue for tree plantation, Khan jumped at the idea. “We cleared the area with JCBs for nearly a month and filled it with composts, making the earth ready for plantations.” Native flora such as pongamia, neem, agave and kamara were planted, besides sowing seed balls.
The club has planned a green drive to plant one lakh saplings and sow five lakh seed balls during the year. “Thankfully this year monsoon was bountiful and all of us are so happy to see greenery bloom in the areas we had just worked,” says Khan. He is gearing up for the next round of plantation drive — this time it is 10,000 saplings and more seed balls in the KGF belt.