Kalam’s Closeness With Siruthuli
The ‘Kalam Vanam’ at Anna university (Coimbatore) is a standing tribute to the great son of India. Abdul Kalam was born in the tiny island Rameswaram but had won the hearts of every Indian. The wonderful People’s President was very fond of nature and he was keen to motivate environmentalists all his life. People remember him as a scientist who had assured India’s space in the comity of nations. However, Coimbatore was one city which was close to his heart and the green NGO Siruthuli was really close to him for years. Vanitha Mohan, the Managing Trustee of Siruthuli had met him long ago and apprised him of the status of our environment. He lent a really concerned ear and lent his moral support to the cause.
A letter written to Siruthuli had a small inclusion done by hand by Dr.Kalam manually. The inclusion showed his concern for both – complete detail and the environment. Later on Dr.Kalam spoke about Siruthuli in a number of forums. He took a special interest in the activities of Siruthuli and visited Coimbatore on receiving an invitation from Siruthuli. The meeting with Dr.Kalam was at the Nani Palkiwala Auditorium in Mani Higher Secondary School. A huge number of students were part of the audience. The students had participated in a mega eco quiz contest that had been held by Siruthuli. Students from over 75 schools had participated enthusiastically in the historic quiz. The winners were given an opportunity to ask questions and interact with Dr.Kalam during his visit. The session went on quite well. He planted the ‘Kalpakavriksham’ of Coimbatore – Pachainayagi on that occasion. The tree continues to flourish at the V.O.C Park in the city. It was taken in a lovely procession to the spot. Today the tree stands in the memory of Dr.Kalam.
Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam used to stay in touch with Siruthuli. He visited the Ukkadam Big Tank at the time of its restoration and thousands of students and citizens had participated in the event. Dr.Kalam was always keen to visit the spots restored by Siruthuli at all times. The green NGO had been able to do a lot of good work because of the support of everyone in the region and Dr.Kalam had been a patron for the organization. The eightieth birthday of Dr.Kalam was an occasion to celebrate. He visited Coimbatore and thousands of Coimbatoreans participated in the festivities. The celebration took place at the vicinity of the Nandangarai Check Dam. The dam had been created in order to hold 100 million litres of water. The DRDA and Siruthuli had worked together in the creation of the resource which will forever be an asset for our region.
The trustees and apex body members of Siruthuli used to meet Dr.Kalam during his visits to Coimbatore. He used to discuss matters concerning the state of our environment. Rain Water Harvesting structures (RWH) used to be part of the discussions. He had once drawn a road side RWH on a piece of paper and stated that it would help in saving a lot of rain water. Team Siruthuli took it up and several hundred RWHs were done in private and public spaces with the help of the Government and the Corporates. Rotary Clubs and other social service organizations had also been eager participants. The water table has risen thereafter and if the trend continues Coimbatore can always be a water surplus city.
A number of senior citizens from Peelamedu involved themselves with Siruthuli in connection with tree planting. The youngest person was about 66 years old and senior most was in his eighties. It was due to the leadership of Swaminathan and co ordination of Palaniswamy along with his other friends. The Railway authorities had lent their helping hand too. Trees from Siruthuli and participation from its apex body took the project forward. Every year, Kalam is celebrated by the senior citizens of Peelamedu along with Siruthuli. The trees had been planted in honour of Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam.
The Miyawaki method of tree planting was used in Anna University and the ‘Kalam Vanam’ has over 80,000 trees today. V.Chandrashekhar and his team put in their heart and soul into the venture. The authorities at the Anna University have to be lauded for their support and care. A number of academicians have studied the positive impact of this plantation. Today there are several types of native birds, honey combs, squirrels etc., enjoying ‘Kalam Vanam’, which is a veritable paradise. Padmashri Awardee Thimmakka had visited the spot recently.
Siruthuli was greatly buoyed by the success of ‘Kalam Vanam’ at Anna University and has now indulged itself at the Bharathiyar University by creating a ‘Bharathi Vanam’ with 10,000 trees for a start. After all, Dr.Kalam had been the dream Indian envisaged by the great man. The eco conscious Company ‘ZF Windpower’ has supported all the green activities of Siruthuli.
The committed souls at ZF Windpower have really worked hard to restore the green and blue ecology of Coimbatore and its neighbourhood. The Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) activities of ZF Windpower are really a model for others to follow. The company is fulfilling the dreams of Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam by supporting the activities of Siruthuli.
The green dream of Dr.Kalam is sure to be fulfilled in the future and the beginning has been made at Coimbatore – The Ecological Capital of Tamilnadu.
Today Coimbatore stands tall among the cities of the country when it comes water conservation and afforestation. The blessings of Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam and the efforts of Siruthuli will surely take the green activities to greater heights.