One man’s mission creates an army of green activists near Chennai

S Sundar Rajan

Chennai: What is the big idea in living in a Chennai suburb if you cannot enjoy greenery and cool breeze, wondered S Sundar Rajan, a resident of Varadrajapuram, near Mudichur, when he moved into the neighbourhood.

He was attracted by the open spaces that his colony offered and vowed to convert it into a mini garden of trees as it had been agricultural land before being converted into housing plots.

“I am a nature lover. One of the reasons I moved to the suburbs was to have my own garden, among other things,” said Sundar Rajan who is a chartered accountant by profession.

He found that the colony was ideal for planting avenue trees and, initially, did some research on the requirements for tree planting based on government guidelines.

He took the help of NGO Nizhal who gave half-a-dozen avenue plants as also instructions on how to handle the project. He approached another NGO in Tambaram that sells saplings at nominal rates. As luck would have it, he chanced upon a cowshed in the vicinity which could provide manure. “Armed with these inputs, I was ready for the project to take root,” smiles Sundar Rajan, who is a poet and writer of short stories.

The initial survey of the area involved identifying where the underground water lines were and also the overhead electricity power lines. These were to be avoided. “I mentally noted that I had to plant saplings that are colourful but did not require free skyline to grow,” explained the nature enthusiast.

But, he understood that it was important to involve the other residents for the project to be a success. He seized an opportunity during Republic Day that was around the corner and got the local association reactivated.

During the celebrations, he explained what he had in mind and made an open offer to distribute saplings.

“I identified a few residents keen on participating with me and sensing the positive mood, I handed out about half-a-dozen plants I had got from the NGO. With the help of some keen youngsters, we located ideal spots along the roads, dug a pit each of one foot square and a foot deep. Inside it we dug a smaller pit of half-a-foot square and half-a-foot deep. We then added manure and planted the trees, each at a distance of about 10 feet. The residents took ownership of watering specific plants near their residence. When news spread, more residents came forward and within a fortnight we had planted about 70 saplings,” said Sundar Rajan with rightful pride.

It is now over two years and about 60 saplings have grown into trees and started to blossom.

“This exercise also brought the local residents together, establishing a good bonding. My target now is to cross the century mark,” says the multi-faceted personality.

Congratulate Sundar Rajan on 98410 35185.

Sundar Rajan had an interesting experience even while he was taking pictures of a tree in full bloom that he had planted sometime back. A resident whom he had not met before, approached him while he was clicking the photos and asked what he was doing. When he explained his ‘greening mission’, she wanted to be part of it. Sundar Rajan had won another green activist!


R Chitra