The Green Army Restoring Odisha Capital’s Trees On War Footing

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Bhubaneswar: Cyclone Fani left as many as 20 million trees damaged when it hit the Odisha coast on May 3. Some of them were completely uprooted.

It will take a long time to revive the greenery of the twin cities and Puri. However, Unmukt Foundation, (an NGO based out of Khandagiri), has taken up the challenge to restore the damaged trees across the city.

It calls itself The Green Army.

The Green Army is a group of 30 full-time volunteers and other participants from around the city, who have spent three to four hours every morning for the last 10 days restoring and reinforcing more than 1,300 fallen trees on the streets of the Odisha capital.

Till date, the team has worked with officials from the Forest Department at Jagamara Road, Airport Road, Naveen Nivas Road, Master Canteen-PMG Square Road and NALCO Chhak to Sainik School Road, inside Sainik School and Patia Square to Info City.

The drive is set to continue for the next 10 days.

“Restoration takes precedence over re-plantation,” said Shweta Agarwal, founder of Unmukt Foundation.

“Even if a massive re-plantation is conducted, it will take at least a decade to bring back Bhubaneswar’s lost green cover. So, it is very important to save as many trees as we can in the following weeks. Some of the trees that we have been restoring are three to four years old, while some are 10-15 years old.”

Every morning, volunteers of The Green Army can be seen on the streets of Bhubaneswar with pickaxes, spades, crowbars, sickles, etc. conducting restoration along the roadsides as well as medians, together with officials from the Forest Department.

The City DFO is working on the restoration but is facing a severe crunch of manpower to complete the required 500 km stretch of restoration.

As such, it is heartening to see volunteers from all walks of life, from school children to office workers, to senior citizens, come out and help restore Bhubaneswar’s greenery.

Volunteers from Navodaya Alumni Association of Odisha and those from OUAT are also actively participated in the drive.

The team has called out for more support from the local people of the area where trees are being restored.

Sourav, a school student who loves cycling, joined the drive on Sunday with his friends.  “Not someone can do everything, but everybody can do something. We want more people to come up and join The Green Army,” he said.

The foundation has  a plantation plan lined up, for which the members would be needing more volunteers.

Urging on behalf of The Green Army, a member said, “We request the residents of Bhubaneswar to come out of their homes and spend an hour or two on this work. If all of us take care of the restoration work in our neighbourhood, we will be able to restore at least a hundred thousand trees in the next two-three days. That’s The Green Army we want to see.”

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