There were times in Nagpur years ago when mothers told their kids during summer, “Look son, when you go to your friend’s place, walk under trees”. And the kids, too, followed the instructions to the hilt. They walked under the trees by the roadside and reached wherever they wished to go without getting exposed to the scorch of the summer noon. And the trees also proved to be decent shelters during rainy seasons as well. Whenever it rained, thousands of people on the streets would take shelter under the massive canopies of the trees that were in a heavenly abundance all over the city. And of course, the trees also proved to be such wonderful playing arenas for the kids.
On Sundays, nobody could miss countless kids up on the trees, having a gala time, shouting, singing, shrieking, jumping down on the ground with a thump, and getting up back onto the tree. Unfortunately, such sights have become terribly rare in our beloved city. Unfortunately, such a walking under trees (or climbing on those) is almost impossible these days -- for multiple reasons, so to say: One, trees are getting scarcer; two, very few kids walk the streets; and three, parents also do not allow their kids any summer indulgences as our parents did those many years ago. But the most important issue is of the depleting green cover of the city, thanks, again, to multiple reasons, the prime among those being the community’s lack of interest in trees and their preservation and conservation.
And because the people in general do not feel committed to protecting the arboreal cover, the administration, too, has developed a clear lethargy on the issue. But at ‘The Hitavada’, all of us have a reason to smile, a sense of satisfaction about the good and visible impact our “Tree Campaign” made on the city in general -- including the people and the administration. Not only has the administration begun the task of de-choking of tree-bases, but the people in general also have begun getting more conscious about their duty towards green cover. Of course, the city still has to travel a long way to develop a completely proper attitude towards green cover.
Yet, a positive beginning seems to have been made. At ‘The Hitavada’, we have a small sense of achievement as we could shake people out of their lethargy towards trees in their surroundings. In those good, old days, whenever one travelled to New Delhi by a morning flight, one would be thrilled to see the wonderfully green Nagpur spreading in all directions. One felt such a surge of pride about one’s own city -- the country’s second greenest (by some survey whose origin at least one does not know). Now take a similar morning flight to New Delhi, and you will realise that the plane flies over only patches of green as the aircraft goes past the city limits and its surroundings. About twenty-five years ago, a colleague at ‘The Hitavada’ had procured a satellite picture of the city Nagpur (taken from a distance of 800 km from the earth) showing a thick arboreal cover (indicated in the map by red patches that were arranged in very thick patterns). Now, a similar picture will show a sickening thinning of the forest or tree cover in and around Nagpur. This is certainly a disturbing scenario and unfortunately it is of our own making. That was the reason why ‘The Hitavada’ launched the ‘Tree Campaign’ with a missionary earnestness. Our sense of gratitude towards the people and the administration is immense because they responded positively. Yet, I still miss that walking under the trees on city streets ...!!!