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Feedback on airport tree-corridor idea

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Mrs Janet Yegneswaran of the Tree-for-free trust doesn’t share my enthusiasm for a green corridor to the Bangalore international airport. “Sorry, it’s not possible,” she wrote back, saying she has enough hassles already, of having to deal with the municipal authorities for providing tree guards to her roadside saplings. Planting saplings along airport highway entail large scale maintenance; would require lots of tree-guards (which, incidentally, cost more than saplings). And who takes responsibility for watering the saplings?

Such was her response when I wrote to Janet after reading about her initiative to get people to plant saplings to mark special events in life – birthday, wedding anniversary, tribute a parents, graduation, getting a job. A California based NRI sponsored planting of 21 saplings in a city park to mark her three-week vacation in Bangalore. This triggered an idea – if everyone who goes abroad the first time – students, IT professional, parents of NRIs – were to sponsor a roadside sapling each to mark the occasion, we could have a green corridor along the road to Devanahalli airport before long.

Janet’s current concerns are about saving the saplings that are planted; about watering them regularly. The municipal corporation staff is required to water roadside plants at least once a week. Without providing for manpower and resources for proper after-care of planted saplings, there is little point in thinking big, according to Janet.

The point is, Janet may not be aware that her tree-sponsorship idea has sparks of morphing into a civic movement. I recall my own skepticism about Exnora, when its founder, Mr M B Nirmal, wanted me to do a story about it in the Times of India. This was in late 80s; and Mr Nirmal, then a Chennai bank official, had returned from a posting in Hong Kong . His idea was that those of us who have been exposed to life and living abroad, could contribute to raising the quality of civic life in Chennai.

Mr Nirmal and his small band of like-minded Chennai residents, all of them with experience of living abroad, started their civic initiative in T Nagar area, under an NGO forum called EXNORA (which stood for excellent+novel+radical). He sought media support and that was how we got in touch. I appreciated Mr Nirmal’s efforts, but dismissed it as a story for a city paper. I thought it was too ‘local’ for the national daily (of which I was then the Chennai correspondent). I had failed to see the spark in the EXnora idea, which has now grown into a country-wide residents driven civic movement.

I don’t know if Mr Nirmal had himself visualized the wider potentials of his local initiative. Janet’s tree-sponsorship idea may be another idea waiting to become a movement, in the Exnora fashion. Speaking of tree-planting I once read that at Surathkal they have a tradition of asking every NIE student to plant a sapling on the campus before graduation. Surathkal campus is now green with trees planted by seniors years ago.

The charitable trust founded by Janet has planted over 1,500 saplings in the last two years. Bangaloreans who wish to see a touch of green in their neighborhood can call Janet – 9845449703 - to have their wish fulfilled. The trust gets calls from residents all over the city, wanting trees planted on their street. Her organizational and other resources are stretched out to the full. Janet says her trust does not collect money from people for planting saplings in their neighborhood. Her resources come from individual donations and corporate sponsors.

As a hands-on person Janet wants to spend all her time and energy in planting saplings. She leaves strategy and promotional work to volunteers. Not being in on the Internet and networking Janet relies on volunteers to answer e-mail and maintain their website which could do with updates on a regular basis. Those of us who wish to take Janet’s the tree-sponsorship idea to a higher, wider and more institutionalized level would first need to convince Janet that thinking big could, at times, lead to big things; that an airport green corridor under Janet’s tree-sponsorship programme has potential to become a working model for citizen-corporate-government partnership in our common endeavor to see a greener Bangalore.

Evidently, it is a task that calls for concerted efforts. The tree-for-free trust could do with networking of like-minded folks with a Bangalore connection. And the Bangalore-connected are there the world over. Each of us who access Praja-Bangalore could tap our contacts - in SiliconIndia and LinkedIn - to spread the word and seek support and guidance from networking professionals. They could help Janet devise appropriate software for registering tree sponsors online; to enable then access to data on available space for tree-plantation; to maintain online inventory of saplings, their variety;to maintain brief notes on sponsors and status of saplings they planted. Over a period the tree-for-free trust could build a database for a tree census in the city. Those who wish ro contact Janet could e-mail -


Cross-posted in my other blog this item evoked a comment from Mr V Kuppan of Exnora who suggested, 'why don’t we try to entrust a stretch by stretch of the corridor to IT industries and other MNCs to plant trees and maintain'.

Another comment, by Mr Narendra Shenoy, related to tree-guards - " These are usually fabricated out of mild steel and then painted. All of which is quite expensive. If the purpose is to protect the sapling from goats and cows, a cheaper one can be fabricated out of bamboo slats and grass ropes. Eco friendly. Inexpensive. Effective. Employment generating.


tsubba's picture

trees & bangalore

112 users have liked, including you.
sir, some general rants about trees of bangalore, nothing specific to your efforts. i think mr. kuppan and mr shenoy make valuable points. and i agree with your diagnosis that this idea could branch out and take deep roots. bangalore is due for some restructuring to keep with changed realities. the old imagination is not sustainable as things stand. too many things have changed since. it is impossible to save every single tree in bangalore while new realities hack at the roots of the city itself. saving a few eucalyptus trees here and few trees there, could kill the entire city. somewhat like missing the forest for the trees. fortunately, bangalore's imagination is about trees which are living entities. they die all the time. and they grow all the time. and they can be planted at any time. provided we keep space for them during this restructuring, once things settle down trees can find roots again in bangalore's landscape. at all times we have to remember bangalore became a garden city and a city of lakes because of what our forefathers did. but while it undergoes this restructuring, it is important to keep the imagination of bangalore as a garden city going. it is here your efforts and those of others will go a long way. lakes on the other hand are a different thing altogether. they are a part of the topography and they are life circle. any assault on them is permanent.
blrsri's picture

trees and all..

111 users have liked.
I do not know why Mrs. Janet needs to go to the authorities for tree enclosures and watering..there are simple thoughts about trees which will make them grow anywhere without much support.. For example..only extremely hungry goats eat the honge..cattle all it needs is a suport(one bamboo pole - 5 ft long)..till it is 2 years! Flowering trees like sampige or bevu(neem) etc need more protection, they grow more slow and above that, humans have interest in using them(ugadi/brushing..)! Also, neem is not suitable to moderate clime like in Blr...they prefer sunny areas, so growing them is not a good option either... About watering..initially they would need once in 2 days and then after few months..even weekly is fine for them! One thing obseved is planting too young saplings on the road side..they would need more tending else they die fast..instead we can plant older saplings(6months- 1 yr)..the survival rate is better and the results are faster.. Coming to the airport access road.. 1. Mr Albert Brunner would not deny any support for activities like this. He has put up the trumphet interchange all by himself not waiting for the authorities..and there is lot of support from him for different activities related to the airport..he can be approached for this.. 2. Did I hear Mallya starting a MRO at the new airport..he can provide the enclosures with their company logo.. 3. Since the airport is under construction and will be like that for some more years..getting someone to water the plants reqularly should not be an issue either.. 4. Trees can be mobilized from the forest dept(next to sankey lake), they have/had a huge nursery there next to their bldg..they have tall/older tree saplings too! So all thats needed is the right access to the right people! Need to say, time is now and!
tsubba's picture


113 users have liked.
sri, how does honge hold up to absorbing all that pollution? any good? are there any narrow stemmed(so that they donot take up footpaths), wide leaved, hardy trees? how do bamboos work. any good?
GVK's picture

Project greenhands

105 users have liked.
Here, a comment by Venkatesh, cross-posted from another blog. Do look up the greenhands site - http://www.projectgreenha... - and watch the video-clip. GVK Those interested in planting trees may also volunteer for ISHA Foundation’s Project Green Hands initiative. BTW, I met Mr.Nirmal last month and he is 65+ but still bubbling with the same enthusiasm and energy that he must have showed to you about 20 years back. Because of his positive influence, we a group of NRIs living in US are planning to start the US Branch of ExNoRa. We would not only act as a funding agency but also a group that would brain-storm the solutions for common civic problems in India and then exchange ideas and implement solutions. If any person in USA is interested to join hands with us, please mail me at
blrsri's picture

best for pollution..

114 users have liked.
Honge remains green most of the year..sheds leaves around feb..'honge neralu' is considered to be the best.. This is a narrow trunk tree..when properly grown. The reason is that the plant branches early and care needs to be taken that the trunk does not grow too much in girth but it should be of the right height when it branches.. A 15 year old tree has a 12 inch dia trunk but the shade will easily be 5-6 mts dia minimum. However blr is known for many trees..we have the sampige road and margosa road..wonder if any other city has roads named after trees.. We have seasonal flowering trees, which provide the color to the city..these could also be planted at the airport..but the problem with these trees is that though they are fast growing..the roots dont go too deep.. So Jathropa/Honge etc are good options for the airport..
GVK's picture

Call to eco-citizens

117 users have liked.
Wish to share with you excerpts from a message I receivec from CNB Rajesh on the SiliconIndia network. Mr Rajesh, who is on the teaching faculty of PES School of Engineering, writes: You may not live in the city of Bangalore, but can still support our movement for Bangalore green corridor. We can then together carry this into your city. But all this is possible only when we join hands together and begin to think about what we need to do about this pressing issue. I know that we are embarking on a difficult task. But I also know all big journeys start with a single step and all great friendships start with a single shake-hand. Let us take the first step: Spread the message among your network.Please send an encouraging message to Janet at comment guidelines

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