At a time when the Tricolor was flying proud and high, thousands of hands worked in tandem to make this Independence Day extra special by planting saplings to mark this most important of all occasions. Yes, for the second time, a massive plantation drive was organized on I-Day in Uttar Pradesh. It was heartening to see a large number of students partaking with utmost sincerity in the ‘celebrations’—flag hoisting as well as tree planting. The message came out so beautifully: A free nation must be free from vices like pollution, and what better way to achieve that but by planting as many trees as possible! The government effort deserves an applause. For, one, it commemorated an excellent ritual that should be continued in the years to come; two, it brought people from all walks of life, both in rural and urban areas, out into parks, public places for a purpose—something not usually witnessed during national holidays when most prefer to treat even days like I-day and R-day as actual ‘holiday’ and stay put inside their homes; and three, it did teach a practical lesson to the school children who showed their usual fervor for a noble cause. Now every time one of them passes by the area in which he/she planted a sapling, the person is most likely to stop and find out the wellbeing of the plant. This will create a special bond and feeling of ownership in the student and may go a long way in rightening and brightening his/her concept of environmental protection. In fact, the youth and the students are the most honest and dedicated lots when it comes to lending support for a cause. The NGOs, industrial and educational institutes may have their ‘vested interests’ in partaking in such drives, but the students and the volunteering youth care only for the mission, and go all out to make it a success. The government should ensure that their innocent trust and toil does not go to waste by ensuring that each sapling planted is able to survive and live for decades.
However, there is one more aspect to the plantation drive that can be added from the next time, maybe: It is strict plantation in urban areas! The authorities should make all out effort to plant trees in slums and gullies (by-lanes), both of which are highly neglected and sans of any greenery. How it can be done, needs to be carefully planned and then implemented. Instead of planting plants in planters along highways or pavements or even dividers, the authorities should plant robust species of trees on the ground itself. But they must not decide the girth of the trunk and make a hole that much wide while cementing off the remaining area. They must, instead, leave it upon the trees to grow as ‘fat’ as they liked by not stifling their growth and leaving a wide area (preferably the entire divider or pavement) uncemented or can get it interlocked (without using cement as is the practice but sand as it should be used). These steps, if enforced, will go a long way in greenifying and beautifying the concrete jungle in which we are all being forced to survive- somehow!