Unable to fathom the extent at which the trees were being felled for the sake of development of the city he grew up in, Manjunath knew he had to do something.
With developmental and residential projects rampantly changing the face of Bengaluru, it is sad to see that the city, once known for its lush green environs, is on a downward spiral and losing that charm.
Troubled by the slow transformation of Bengaluru into a concrete jungle, one man has donned the cape of a green crusader and is on a mission to make the city green again.
Even if that meant giving up on habits that die hard.
36-year-old Manjunath Swamy, a BTM Layout resident, is a cab driver by profession. Unable to fathom the extent at which the trees were being felled for the sake of development of the city he grew up in, he knew he had to do something.
Previously living a carefree life, Manjunath spent a major chunk of his income in bars and restaurants partying with his friends.
Plant a Tree and Gift a Living is an attempt by The Better India along side NAATA Foundation to plant 5000 fruit trees in Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai. Each of these saplings need an approximate amount of Rs 100 for their nourishment over the next 2-3 years, after which they will be sufficient to supplement the income of the community by adding an additional source of livelihood, while also restoring the green cover of the area.
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About three months ago, when the realisation that the city was losing its green cover dawned on him, he decided to cut short his wayward expenses and started utilising the same amount for his green crusade.
“A few years ago, I was reminded of my PU professor who would tell us that we need to give back to society, one way or another. I wanted to do my part for the environment and decided to start with planting saplings every weekend besides all the roads in BTM Layout,” he told Bangalore Mirror.
Dedicating weekends for the initiative, Manjunath, who is accompanied by his son at times, has single-handedly planted around 1,000 saplings in his neighbourhood alone. He has even bought a drilling machine to plant saplings at places where manual digging is difficult.
Though his dedication is appreciable, the going hasn’t been without its share of obstacles.
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“Someone told me once that I would need to pay the electricity board to use the drilling machine and people have cheated me too. Later, I would beg residents to let me use their plug points for the drilling machine. Some refuse but I haven’t given up. Surprisingly, sometimes residents don’t let me plant saplings in front of their house because they want space for parking,” he said.
None of these, however, dampened the spirit of Manjunath. Spending about ₹500-700 every weekend on saplings, he continues to go about with his planting drive and even pays those who volunteer in his mission.
Manjunath aims to plant 10 lakh saplings and will not stop till he achieves the target.