CHENNAI: Kolathur, a tranquil village, about 40km from Chennai and lying near Chengalpet town, came was buzzing on Saturday, with more than 3,000 volunteers busy planting 55,000 saplings as part of The Times of India and Hero MotoCorp, Green Drive. School and college students, employees of various companies, MNREGA workers and villagers took part in the drive on 10-acre parcel of land that belongs to the Chengalpet district administration. The saplings were geo-tagged and solar pumping system was used to ensure electricity is not used.
Appreciating the initiative and explaining the government’s intention to achieve 33% green cover across the state, minister for environment and climate change, Siva V Meyyanathan said Tamil Nadu government would soon monitor each of these 260 crore saplings planted under the Green Tamil Nadu mission using satellites. “Since every sapling is geo-tagged, we will monitor them using satellites,” he said. Minister for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises T M Anbarasan said that in 2006, he had pledged to make Chengalpet into a green paradise but could not accomplish the mission. “This time, we have almost achieved the dream as most of the hilly areas have dense forests. I urge everyone to plant trees in their localities and contribute to the Chief minister’s ambitious Green Tamil Nadu Mission to improve the environment,” he said.
When questions were raised about the availability of land, the survival rate of the planted saplings and their maintenance under the Mission, Meyyanathan said, “we will survey the plants through satellite and we are in talks with scientists at the ISRO to monitor the saplings. A website that will provide all details of every sapling planted will be launched soon,” he said. Talking about the availability of land for the mission, he said, “areas under forest department, educational institutions, private companies and government land will be utilised. Also, over 52,000 industries, of which 12,500 fall under the red category, have to plant at least 1,000 plants under this initiative,” he said. Chengalpet district collector Rahul Nath said that about three lakh saplings were planted in the district last year. “Next year, we have set a target of 10 lakh saplings,” he said.
This time around, only native saplings were planted. The Hero-TOI Green Drive is a key initiative toward achieving objectives like mitigating carbon from the environment, improving air quality, mitigating the impact of climate change and helping in conserving groundwater. “We are geo-tagging all the plants to maintain a database with pictures and growth records. The database will be updated periodically with new pictures of all trees, thereby helping us in assessing their rate of growth,” said Bharatendu Kabi, head, Corporate Social Responsibility of Hero Motocorp. The saplings will be monitored for three years, after which they will be handed over to the Chengalpet district administration. During TOI’s last drive in 2019, a total of about 1.5 lakh saplings were planted at Mahindra World City near Chengalpet.