Uprooted by Cyclone Fani, these youngsters in Odisha are replanting the trees and saving them

The organisation's focus is also planting deep-rooted trees that are cyclone resistant which remain strong against the forces of nature 
Volunteers at work | (Pic: Shweta Agarwal)
Volunteers at work | (Pic: Shweta Agarwal)

The vision that still comes to mind when one thinks of Cyclone Fani is the several uprooted trees that dotted the roads. And while there are many out there helping the needy, who is helping these trees? You'd be happy to know that at least in Bhubaneswar, Unmukt Foundation's Green Army Drive is on the job. Now you may be aware of this foundation as the one which conducts weekend classes for children in varied subjects, from computational thinking to extracting natural colours from leaves. But before the devastating storm hit this coastal state, they had planned to plant 500 native fruit trees with the aim that they will provide both shade and fruit to children. Alas, destiny had other plans. So Shweta Agarwal's foundation put together a new action plan, to replant those trees which have been uprooted by the ferocious force of nature, Cyclone Fani. 

We are trying to do our bit for the environment 

Shweta Agarwal, Unmukt Foundation | (Pic: Shweta Agarwal)

For the past 17 days, from 6 am to 10 am the Green Army of Unmukt Foundation have been doing all they can do to replant trees and have already planted 1,200 plus trees so far. "We gently straighten the tree and offer temporary support to the tree. Then we cover the root with soil and ensure that they're are not exposed. Then, we also pour water," says Shweta Agarwal, who also informs that when big trees are involved, they also take the help of the Bhubaneswar Municipality Cooperation (BMC) or the Forest Department. She does admit that at first, they did not have a plan, but now they have narrowed down on localities like Infocity Road, around the Biju Patnaik International Airport, Master Canteen Chowk, Khandagiri and other areas of the capital city which will receive their help. "We are pressed for time because if we don't act fast enough, the roots will dry up and then it will be very difficult to replant the trees," says the 35-year-old. They have even appealed to the BMC to make use of the dry leaves scattered all around the roads and make compost out of it. "We have noticed that people have been burning it, which is hazardous to the environment. Instead, they can be easily turned into compost," she offers.

The foundation is known for conducting interesting weekend classes for children

Apart from the sweltering heat which makes it difficult for volunteers to work after 10 am, what are the hardships that the Green Army is facing? Shweta, who was born in Gwalior and is now settled in Bhubaneswar, informs that the soil is polluted with garbage, broken glass and other pollutants, "So we really need to be careful that the volunteers are not hurt," adds the architect. Their next step, of course, will be mass plantation drives.  

Scenes from the work they do:

Some trees which are cyclone resistant are: 

- Neem: A tree whose every part, right from the leaf to the root, is said to be useful turns out to be cyclone-resistant as well

- Karanja: A medium-sized tree that is known to prevent soil erosion

- Ashok: Not just a sacred tree which can also cure diseases, it can also survive a cyclone

- Baula: This evergreen tree is also quite strong 

For more on her, click on facebook.com/shweta.awsm

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