Agroforestry to tackle water depletion

After his Rally for Rivers, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Coimbatore-based Isha Foundation launched Cauvery Calling, a new campaign in an attempt at increasing the tree cover along the banks of river Cauvery, right from its birthplace — Talacauvery in Kodagu, to Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu, where the river drains into the Bay of Bengal. 

Speaking at the launch of the campaign in Bengaluru on Saturday, Sadhguru said there was a need to plant trees in the Cauvery basin to increase water retention at an estimated rate of 40%, thereby addressing water scarcity in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The campaign will kick-start from September 2 with a 23-member bike rally starting from Talacauvery.

Throughout the campaign, Sadhguru and his volunteers hope to plant 242 saplings of timber rich and fruit-bearing trees in over 100 taluks in the Cauvery basin.

“This will be done on the same farm where farmers employ conventional methods. We hope to cover 83,000 sq km of agroforestry space as part of the campaign,” explained Sadhguru. 

“People think the water crisis is sudden. It has been there for long in the rural areas, often ignored. Now that it has reached urban centres, people are waking up,” he said.

Asked how the saplings would sustain and what the interest of the farmers would be, Sadhguru said they were seeking support from the government to offer farmers incentives for four years till they make profits. “The government will have to provide just Rs 150-200 crore a year,” he added.

Onboard for the campaign are experts from various fields -- A S Kiran Kumar, K Radhakrishnan, both former chairmen of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and actor Suhasini Maniratnam among several others. The campaign seeks the participation of donors who can pay Rs 42 per sapling. The team of volunteers being trained will identify the farmers and handover the saplings for planting.

Shaw said there was a need for corporates to participate in the movement.

“If the employees are ready to make a contribution for certain number of saplings the numbers can be met. The company has to contribute the number of saplings put together,” she said. 

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