By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, Aug 1 (IANS) Scores of green volunteers joined a unique sapling plantation programme on Saturday, held simultaneously in 75 cities across the globe at 115 different locations, from Perth to Ontario.
The activity was organised by SPHEEHA (Society for Preservation of Healthy Environment and Ecology and Heritage of Agra).
SPHEEHA, the Agra-based NGO has been at the forefront of conserving Environment, Ecology and Heritage in various cities across the globe. Since its inception in 2006, it has a record of ensuring 81.4 per cent survival of the trees
The programme coordinator Shabd Mishra told IANS: “This year on August 1, since mass assembly of people is prohibited in most places due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SPHEEHA members planted thousands of trees in over 115 locations across the globe where they could assemble in minimal numbers with social distancing norms.
“Where assembly of people was not possible, the members planted in their respective homes/communities, spread across 75 cities in four continents. In many places, the plantation had the support of the local authorities who also participated in person.”
Among the dignitaries who participated in this unique initiative were Indian Consul General Dantu Charandasi, Yaz Mubarakrai MLA from Western Australian Parliamentary constituency, President of the Indian Society of Western Australia Supriya Guha, Kathryn McGarry, Mayor of city of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, Ann Grover, Council woman, South Brunswick, NJ, US.
Over 3,000 trees of around 60 varieties, primarily comprising teak, fruit bearing trees, medicinal plants, bamboo, spices and herbs were planted.
The unique aspect of the plantation was that these 115 locations live streamed the plantation, co-ordinated by SPHEEHA’s headquarters at Agra, India and was watched by nearly 5,000 people.
The program started by a prayer was followed by planting of a teak sapling by Prem Saran Satsangi Sahab, Chairman Emeritus of the Advisory Committee of Education to DEI University at Agra.
The members then planted saplings at their respective locations. A street play showcasing the importance of trees in our lives was enacted by young kids at Agra, India and streamed live. D.K. Pandey from the UP Forest department recited poems on environment.
Speaking on the occasion, Former Chief Secretary of Haryana and the Chairperson of DEI University; who is also the Chief Patron of SPHEEHA Prem Prashant said, “This is a memorable day for SPHEEHA that it has managed to successfully conduct its international tree plantation drive by following all rules, regulations and safety of the participants despite the pandemic.” He also congratulated SPHEEHA and DEI for signing the MoU.
SPHEEHA President M A Pathan (Former Chairperson of the Indian Oil Corporation and Former Resident Director, Tata Sons) said, “SPHEEHA remains committed to the cause of creating a better and greener future for all species on this planet and will continue to dedicate its resources for further improvement in the green cover in every city where we have members. We would also thank the respective local authorities where this years tree plantation has taken place amid the COVID-19 pandemic for their support.”
The entire event was managed by Col. (Retd) R.K .Singh from Agra who has been managing SPHEEHA’s tree plantation drives since 2013. He said, “This is his way of giving back to the society and mother earth.”
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)