Dubai Municipality officials present at the simple ceremony said the civic body will give further boost to Harikumar’s idea of ten million saplings. Ahmed AbdulKarim, Director of Public Parks and Horticulture Department said the Municipality, which is in the process of turning 8% of the city area green as per the international norms, would like support any movement towards creating more green areas.
'We believe that Harikumar’s idea of ten million saplings will help create awareness among the local residents towards the necessity of planting more and more trees for the generations to come,' he said.
Harikumar said he has taken a plunge to this campaign for a childhood pledge, taking a break from the rigours of routine work to spearhead the challenge of reclaiming the world’s green cover.
'This is my first tree planting outside India where I have completed planting 5,000 trees in different states with the help of social organizations and NGOs,' he said.
When Harikumar was in college in 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. 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,' he said.
A post graduate in Economics from Nirmala College Muvattupuzha, Kerala, Harikumar said 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 credit. But today he is a worried man. The onslaught on the environment not only in his own state Kerala, the 'God’s own country' but 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 spread across six continents besides seeking space to fulfill a unique venture.
Harikumar said his dream got off to the best possible start outside India.
'On my part as a global crusader, I 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.
Harikumar understands this will be a different beat all together. 'It is not going to be just a pledge. 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 might in safeguarding the environment,' he said.
Harikumar said to realize 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,' he said.
Interestingly, Harikumar is not banking on Government but a strong network of friends of the environment. 'I will cultivate 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,' he said.
Speaking on 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 a wanton destruction of green cover and this is not good for the present and future generations. 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,' said Harikumar.
His modus operandi is simple. With ten million 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 a commitment from those involved to 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 in Dubai will spread across the GCC 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 bio-diversity, enhance natural beauty and prevent soil erosion. 'I believe every country must sustain life naturally - forest cover affects the availability of the rain, availability of underground water, soil fertility, clean air and the beauty of the landscape,' he said.