Orissa had an exceptionally severe monsoon
this year. The flooded rivers devastated large areas of cropland and
forests. Many trees were felled as a result of the deluge. Forests in
13 districts were razed to the ground. Government and voluntary agencies
are there to rehabilitate the people but what about destruction to trees?
Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj who is ever in the forefront of environmental
conservation stepped in to carry out the greening of Orissa after the
rains stopped and floods receded.
The BAPS sadhus and volunteers girded up their loins to carry out the
task. Meetings were organised in villages to alert and awaken the residents
so that they would become aware of the need to restore ecological balance
which the deluge had upset.
The accent was on planting fast-growing and quick-yielding saplings.
A list was drawn up which included coconut, banana, cherry, jack fruit,
mango, lemon, jamboo, potasu, neem and guava. The saplings were supplied
by the horticultural department of the Government of Orissa and Vivekanand
Training and Research Institute.
The saplings were collected at the beginning of August. They were distributed
and planted in the five villages of Chakulia, Banipat, Badabilari, Sri
Chandanpur and Badabudha. A total of about 5,700 saplings were given
to be planted during the afforestation programme : banana-1800, mango-950,
coconut-600, neem-500, lemon-400, cherry-400, jack fruit-300, jamboo-300,
potasu-250 and guava-200.
The sadhus saw to it that the saplings were taken proper care of and
not forgotten after the first watering. Individual families were made
responsible for the nurturing of the plants. Weekly inspections were
made to see that things were going on as planned. Youths were entrusted
with the task of supplying manure (fertiliser) to the plants. The Sanstha
also arranged for the spraying of saplings with insecticide.
On 17.8.2000 saplings were planted after performing the puja of Thakorji.
The ceremony was attended by Sri Arvind Bahera of the Orissa State Horticultural
Department, Sri Rameshbhai and Sri Jaksibhai of the Vivekanand Research
and Training Institute and Sri Purushottamjivan Swami, Kothari of Calcutta
mandir. Shriji Maharaj's blessings were invoked to make the plants flower
and yield fruit. On 23.8.2000 a sapling was planted by Sri Ranjandas
Mahapatra of the Forest Department. The villagers were given training
to take care of the tender plants. The residents were supplied with
tomato, cucumber, etc. to plant in their kitchen gardens. Vegetable
seeds were also distributed on the occasion.