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Fighting global warming locally

G. Prabhakaran


A one-man mission in Palakkad has planted 2.5 lakh trees in 11 years.




Weaving a green canopy:As the monsoon has set in, the day starts early for A.V. Balakrishnan of Kalloor at Mankara in Palakkad. He leaves with a load of saplings to areas awaiting his greening touch.

PALAKKAD: His is a mission to show that the fight against global warming should start locally.

During the past 11 years, A.V. Balakrishnan of Kalloor at Mankara, near here, has been on a mission to plant trees. Nearly 2.5 lakh trees in public places and on the premises of government offices and other institutions in various parts of the district bear his imprint. He has dipped into his small earnings he makes as a marginal farmer to plant the trees and protect them.

“Trees are like my children. I protect them as though they are my children,” he says.

He has mobilised support from the Forest Department and some environmental groups at the village level in taking forward his mission. His first attempt at planting trees was in the Chudiyanmala forest area at Kalloor, near his home, and his efforts have taken deep roots, reaching the border with Thrissur district after covering many villages and small towns in Palakkad district.

He has a big nursery in his house to raise saplings, which are either planted or supplied to the Forest Department, which pays him a monthly honorarium of Rs.5,000 for his efforts.

As the monsoon has set in, he leaves on his motorbike early in the morning with a load of saplings for planting in various places. During summer, he collects seeds from various places and raises them in the nursery. Offices, schools, colleges, religious institutions, sides of irrigation canals, roadsides, all have got his greening touch.

Mr. Balakrishnan has taken up the cause of the protection of Ayyarmala spread over the grama panchayats of Parali, Keralasseri, Kongad, and Mundur. When fire breaks out in the area during summer, he alerts the Forest Department to it and helps save the forests.

His activities extend to burial of garbage to provide manure to the trees and removal of toxic waste dumped on the roadsides and in public places.

Mr. Balakrishnan says that he does not expect anything from planting trees as it is his small contribution to protect the environment and Mother Earth. He is not after any award or recognition. The biggest recognition comes when youngsters support him in his mission. Schoolchildren have joined him in planting thousands of trees, which he sees as a promise for the future. They recognise the bad effects of destruction of trees and the environment and come forward to fight against it. This awareness created among the younger generation his is biggest achievement.

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