Thursday, October 26, 2006

A crusade to save trees

A crusade to save trees

The Hindu

BANGALORE: As one sips coffee at a fast food joint near Manipal Centre in Bangalore, one notices a board on a tree right in front of it. The board says the tree is worth Rs. 11.2 lakh. One wonders how?

The board explains: the tree produces oxygen worth Rs. 2.5 lakh, controls soil erosion that adds up to Rs. 2.5 lakh; has positive impact on humidity that in turns comes up to Rs. 3 lakh; shelters birds and insects and contributes to ecology, again worth Rs. 2.5 lakh; and controls air pollution to the extent of Rs. 70,000. All this adds up to Rs. 11.2 lakh!

On enquiry about who had put up the board, it was found that it had been the work of T.N. Somnath Joshi, a second PUC student and resident of Ulsoor. He is passionate about trees and has put similar boards on over 100 trees in the city, each at least 50 years old. He has attempted to quantify the benefits from the trees and put up them in terms of money so that people can clearly understand their importance. This is the value the Government may have to invest to derive the same benefits using other means, he says.

Why does he do this? "This is a small contribution from my side (to society)," he says. He was a student of a school that had a lot of greenery on its premises. "We used to have our food every day under those trees. But one day the school decided to cut them." Upset by this, he and his friends pleaded with the principal to save the trees. But the principal was helpless. She argued that cutting down the trees and constructing a building made better economic sense for the school's management.

That's when Joshi, now a student of Cathedral Composite PU College realised that people needed to know more about the importance of trees. He has been attempting to create awareness about the importance of trees in his own way. Though he tried to involve some of his friends, they did not join him. "I do not force anyone," he says. But he is happy that his father T. Narasimha Murthy, an advocate, is giving him the money required to make the boards.


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