Chariot turns juggernaut for abandoned trees

Chariot turns juggernaut for abandoned trees

Green warriors

Hasiru Ratha volunteers plant a sapling.

A group of volunteers has come forward to save saplings planted during the World Environment Day, now left to wither away. 

Volunteers of Hasiru Ratha or green chariot, regularly water and nourish the plants. Inspired by Saalumarada Thimmakka, these citizens are revitalising the forgotten saplings to ensure they grow up to green the city. 

Nagaraj Manya, a retired bank officer, wanted to continue his environmental initiative and formed Hasiru Ratha on the World Environment Day of 2017. The team currently cares for over 1,000 saplings. 

The group has 50 members now. A dozen volunteers remain active through the year. They cover areas including Jayanagar, Basavanagudi and Banashankari. 

They planted over 500 of their own saplings during the rainy season between June and August.

They do weeding, watering and medication of the saplings creating wooden supports. 

The group has installed 250 metal tree guards designed by Nagaraj that are cost-effective, recyclable and horizontally removable once the saplings grow. This is in contrast to the inflexible expensive guards laid by the BBMP that stick around fully grown trees. 

“The hardest thing is to find a spot to plant, especially in residential areas. Residents want parking space, not planting trees. They complain about fallen leaves and roots growing into their compound, but do not realise how beneficial the oxygen from a tree is,” Nagaraj told DH.  

Member Ananda said: “Saplings maintained for over a year have been destroyed by BBMP contractors at South End Circle. It has happened four times now.” 

Having visited DVG Road for a record 65 days, they care for 205 saplings planted and abandoned by the BBMP. They urge the BBMP to take better care of trees, plant saplings with sufficient space and use scientific trimming methods, instead of disproportionately hacking them with sickles that prematurely destroy them. 

The initiative took shape when Nagaraj spent over Rs 2 lakh from his pension money to buy a car and named it Hasiru Ratha. 

To this day, this pensioner spends his own money, not donations. Last year alone, the money spent was Rs 1 lakh. Some group members have contributed Rs 84,000 for the works.