Pune: Farmer nurtures 21K trees on hill

Every year, the Pune Municipal Corporation plants over 60,000 trees across the city as a part of the 33-crore tree plantation target of the state government. However, hardly 20 per cent of trees survived within city limits, despite the availability of water and maintenance. With no option, every year, authorities are forced to choose the same pit for a new plantation target.

On the other hand, Chandrakant Warghade, a 48-year-old farmer from Bakori village, has set an example before the authorities. Over the past five years, he single-handedly managed to save all 21,000 trees planted on the Bakori hills. Due to his efforts, the parched hilly area turned into lush, dense greenery with all native trees. All trees were planted under the same scheme of the state government.

On hearing about his success story, the team of expert members of Tree Authority recently visited the hills to know the secret behind the high ratio of survival of trees despite it being a barren land and replicate the same model in PMC limits. A team of revenue officers under a sub-divisional officer from Haveli, Sachin Baravkar, also paid a visit to replicate the said model in the rural part of the district, especially in parched areas where the ratio of tree survival is poor.

The expert team included Shilpa Bhosale, Kaviraj Sangeliya, Arvind Gore, Mahendra Chavan and Manoj Pateliya, along with other tree lovers from the city.

Warghade accepted all the trees offered under the state’s ambitious plantation drive and ensured that all the trees survived. His wife, son and daughter, provided help in watering the plants.

Shilpa Bhosale, member of Tree Authority, said, “We heard about the efforts of Warghade who managed to survive all 21,000 trees on barren hills. We wanted to know what efforts he took in the past five years as the mortality rate is high in urban areas despite proper care. Here, despite the menace of cattle and parch situation, he keeps greenery alive.”

“We are going to send a team of horticulturists from PMC to study the survival model. We have also decided to hand over saplings from PMC to Warghade,” she added.

Arvind Gore, another member, said, “This year, we could not conduct the special plantation drive in PMC limits due to pandemic and lockdown. But, we noticed that Warghade, with the help of local residents, planted more trees and ensured their survival. His concept of providing a guardian impressed us a lot, and we may replicate the same model in city limits.”

Warghade said, “I did nothing special. I only ensured that the planted tree gets proper care during the initial days. I regularly visit the hill to check the status. I have also appoinated guardians who take care of the trees planted on their date of birth. Saving the trees from cattle and natural calamities is an important task. One cannot leave the tree alone once it is planted.”

“All the 21,000 trees have survived because trees also require affection like a human child, which we provided. If the authority has willpower, then nothing is impossible,” Warghade added.

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