ആരു പറഞ്ഞാലും ജലം
ഒരു നരവംശ ശാസ്ത്രവല്ക്കരണത്തിന്
ജലം ജലത്തിന് വേണ്ടി ഒഴുകുന്നു.
Spearheading a Green Cause Today for a Better Tomorrow
But for a childhood pledge, he is taking a break from the rigours of routine work to spearhead the challenge of reclaiming the world's green cover. MK Harikumar renowned journo, poet and, critic launched his campaign at Garden City College on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti.
hen MK Harikumar was in college in distant Kerala, he recalls a fascination for trees and regaling in nature's bounty. "I would turn to the leaves for my bookmarks and this gave me immense thrill," reminisces Harikumar. "Back home, everyone shared the same love for nature and this in many ways helped us bond as a family.
I guess it also contributed to my passion for writing." That Harikumar went on to pursue a degree in economics from DevaMatha College, Kuravilangad and finally passed out from Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha with MA degree in Economics is of less significance. It is his writings that have taken the centre stage and helped him move up the ladder -to be the bureau chief of a leading Malayalam daily, poet and writer - with eight. books to his eredit. But that Was then. Today, Harikumar is a worried man. A truth only betrayed by his modesty and gentle demeanor. The onslaught on the environment not only in his own back yard (In God's own country), across other states like Karnataka and worldwide torment him a great deal.
The journo turned environmentalist was in the city to kick- start a campaign of gigantic proportions besides seeking space to fulfill a unique venture- 'One Crore Trees Worldwide Campaign' spread across six continents. Now that is something that will take some doing. But even he could not have anticipated the kind of response he received in the city. Stepping out to a grand reception at Garden City College (GCE), his dream got off to the best possible starts. Dr. Joseph. V. G., chairman GCC Group of Institutions bequeathed the land to officially kick-start the campaign on campus. More than 1000 saplings were earmarked for the beginning on a cool breezy Sunday morning, the festive mood all too apparent. Also, GCC announced its commitment to a greener planet by accepting to be a custodian of the 1000 trees as part of the deal besides supporting the crusade in planting the trees across the city. The significance of the announcement could not be missed coming on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi's 137th Birth Anniversary celebrations.
According to Dr. Joseph, the concern for the environment spans our entire institutions. "We are proud of our legacy as 'environmental caretakers' and feel that it is our duty to protect it because of what it has given us," he said. "If we inspire students to plant a tree, they in turn will inspire many others. In this way, Harikumar's venture makes sense," he added. On his part, as a global crusader, Harikumar will promote environmental conservation by creating awareness amongst students on the importance of planting trees as well as taking good care of them. "This is a symbolic beginning," he said. "This campus has literally been transformed into a green paradise. The flora offers an ideal learning environment even in a city that is witnessing massive chopping of trees. Recalling that the campus was barren land more than a decade back, it has been transformed and awash with greenery. This shows how in our small ways we can help the city reclaim its past grandeur,” he noted.
Harikumar understand this will be a different beat all together. "It is not going to be just a pledge," he said addressing the gathering that comprised college students. "This is something I have always dreamed of as a child and am happy it is becoming a reality. The campaign is not just going to help protect the environment but should spur others to contribute their mite in safeguarding the environment," he informed the gathering giving a measure of the goals he has set out to achieve. To realise his goal, he is taking a break from his work and much of his writings will take a backseat. This phase of the agenda focuses on the planting of indigenous trees on public lands to enhance the impact of environmental conservation.
Interestingly, Harikumar is not banking on government but a strong network of 'friends of the environment' that he has cultivated through the years in across various cultures, cities and countries. "A host of individuals and institutions have made a commitment to see this venture through. What I am seeking is the space to plant the trees, nothing more," insists the poet. It is a challenge that could well bring him into the public Limelight- a Guinness world- record in the making. Or movement like the tree hugging Chipko movement. May be the inspiration of the Green Belt Movement that won Kenya's Wangari Mathai the Nobel award! But the reserved Harikumar is not looking for glory. Neither is looking for accolades. Just fulfilling a love of trees for their importance in our lives and doing his part!
Speaking of the importance of such a measure, the soft- spoken environmental crusader shared his views on the global state of the environment. "We are today witnessing the wanton destruction of green cover and this is not good for the present and future generations," he warned the gathering. "We can rectify the mistakes that we have committed in the past by putting curbs on felling of trees and then make genuine attempts as a remedy through planting trees."
His modus operandi is a simple one: With one crore trees to be planted across six continents as the target, to begin, he will first seek for land to plant the saplings. Once this is done, he will then acquire the saplings/ trees and elicit and a commitment from those involved be the custodians of the trees once they are planted. Places of worship, public spaces such as parks and educational establishments- schools, colleges etc will be the most sought after avenues. The venture commenced at Garden City College and will spread across the states before taking-off worldwide. Initially, the focus is on indigenous trees to enhance the impact of environmental conservation. However, there is no preferred species although fast growing trees suited for public spaces will take prominence.
According to Harikumar, the campaign is another addition to the efforts being made to conserve biodiversity, enhance natural beauty and prevent soil erosion. "I believe every country must sustain life naturally-forest cover affects the availability of rain, availability of underground water, soil fertility, clean air and the beauty of the landscape. At present, we are seeing a fast erosion of trees. I am looking at involving engaged in the campaign-promoting the planting of trees mainly in educational establishments, religious and public spaces to preserve local biological diversity."
And rightly observed by one of the students at the function, it was heartening to listen to the inspiring talk and be part of the vision that could change the fortunes of a country. "It is a worthy venture and I cannot express my happiness and the fact that my college has been chosen for the task," she added.
As if to welcome the initiative, it was only natural that the there were more cheers as the city witnessed a massive rain after brief lull that put a check on the soaring mercury levels. The rain gods too seemed to have smiled and given their nod.
A core trees for the world.
-by julia steward
South african journalist.