Thursday, September 17, 2009

AFRICAN BAOBAB TREES in and around Hyderabad

                     Baobab Trees in Chengicherla Forest Block

The City of Hyderabad also have at least half a dozen locations where magnificent Baobab trees stand witnessing the glory of past and also the interest of Arabian traders who introduced these tress in the then Hyderabad State which was also having part of Maharashtra under it. The scientific name of this tree is Adansonia digitata,Linn and it is also known as Monkey- Bread Tree. A few locations where we can see these trees are near Golconda fort, Vansthalipuram, Attapur ,Near Chappel Road, and Uppal in Chengicherla Reserve Forests.

                       Baobab Tree near Golconda Fort
There are 6 trees existing in Chengicherla Reserve Forest of Hyderabad Forest division, which provide a magnificent view of the site. One of the trees is having largest girth of 12.80 Meters ( 42 feet). There is a reference of this tree in M.S. Khan’s FOREST FLORA OF HYDERABAD STATE (1951) which says “that the largest tree in Aurangabad near the Badkal Darwaza approaches very nearly to the 40 feet girth size .”
Is this only way to express our feelings?

The Baobab tree located in the premises of Golconda Fort is having girth is 27.40 metres (89 feet). There are various stories centered around this Baobab tree of Golconda Fort and one of the famous stories is related to its cave which helped some 40 notorious thieves to hide themselves some 400 years ago. In fact while visiting this tree I found few local youth sitting on the branches and one of them even entered inside the cave formed in between the branches .

                                          Quite impressive tree

However African Baobab tree in Limpopo Province, South Africa, has a circumference of 47 metres (150 ft) and considered the largest living example.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Making Forest Plantations successful

(Trench –cum –Pit Method of Planting)

Trenches being dug in SaloniTanda Village (Mehboobnagar Division)

The forest department in our country has been entrusted with the task of raising plantations of various species suiting to local environment. Of late uncertainty over quantum and time of rainfall has affected the establishment of plantations to great extent in spite of adequate inputs to make these plantations successful. The situation is more severe in the parts of the Country which are having low rainfall less than 1000 mm. Moreover it is the pattern of rainfall (erratic or continuous ) which is responsible for making or mar the success of any plantations. The quantity and duration of rainfall are most critical factors for survival of plantations. In the recent past the changes in the pattern of rainfall mostly due to climatic changes has become one of the main challenging factors for plantations which are rain dependent unlike intensive plantations of horticulture and other species being raised with assured source of irrigation. This is not possible in the Forest areas mainly because of large extent of targeted area and some time due to lack of irrigation sources .

All these conditions have necessitated the need of exploring various alternatives of traditional planting methods.

The traditional method involves digging of pits usually of 30cm3 or 45 cum3 just before monsoon or after first shower followed by planting which has been the most common method in the department.

There has been attempts for exploring various non conventional methods of planting to tide over above uncertainties of rainfall and its affect on survival of plantations.. One of the main methods of such non conventional method of planting is trench- cum- pit method adopted by the department. This method involves digging of a trench preferably of 1met length, 50 cm width and 30 cm depth . The dug out soil is heaped towards lower side of the slope so to minimize the scope of it again filling the same trench . This is followed by digging the pit of conventional size (30cm3 or 45 cum3) in the center of this trench. The trench dug under this method facilitates the storage of water and thereby retaining moisture for a longer period which is helpful for a seedling to get established quickly. Basically this methods allows retention of rainfall (albeit meager and erratic )for longer duration to plants which is very critical in the drought prone districts of the State like Mehboobnagar, Nalgonda, Ananthpur etc. which are receiving erratic and meager rainfall and in such cases the retention of maximum rainfall is possible in this method.

In another modifications of this method trench of 1meter length, 1 meter width and 30 cm depth is dug and a pit of 30cm3 or 45 cum3 is again dug for planting seedlings. This methods of planting is started this year in some of the Forest Protection Committee ( locally called Vana Samrakshana Samithies ) in Hyderabad division under FDA (Forest Development Agency ) financially assisted by Government of India. The initial results of this intervention are encouraging and helped in retention of considerable moisture and also quick establishment of plantations.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sri SITARAMACHANDRASWAMY DEVASTHANAMU ( Sri RamChnadra Swamy Temple) in Mehboobnagar Dictrict

A view of the Temple

Mehboobnagar District of the Andhra Pradesh is known for its recurring drought followed by mass migration of villagers. However recently this phenomenon has been reduced to a great extent due to National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme , a flagship programme of UPA Government.

The District is also famous for its undulating terrain full of hillocks having rocks and boulders supporting dry deciduous vegetation wherever they find a little soil.

Many of the hillocks in Mehboobnagar are known for having temples of various deities. Though whole of the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh is known for having many such famous temples like Keesara Gutta, Yadagiri Gutta, Narswamy Temple etc,. One of the such famous temples is situated is in Sirusangandla village of Vangoor Mandal.

Deities inside the Temple
Known as Sri SitaRamachandra swamy Devasthanamu , this temple is also called as Second Bhadradri temple , the first being the famous Bhadrachalam Rama temple . Located at an elevation of 780 meters above sea level this temple is said to be established app 650 years ago. The priest of the temple told me that while the idols for Great Bhadradri temples were being made near Paloncha, a few idols of Lord Ram, Goddess Sita & Lord Laxman were kept there and one of the priests of this village got a dream about these idols and then he brought and established the temple here at this hillock. The man temple has these three idols . One of the specialties noticed in these idols is that Lord Rama & Lord Laxman are shown to wearing moustaches a feature which is not commonly seen in idols of Lord Rama. The temple complex is on the top of big rocks and the surrounding foot hill contain sparse vegetation, dominant being Cassia fistula ( Rela in telugu & Amaltas in Hindi) and Wrightia tinctoria (Pala kodisa in telugu) . The temple is one of the famous temples of the District and witnnesses huge crowd specially during Ramanavami festival.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

IT’S TIME FOR TREE PLANTING: ARE YOU READY ? (Simple Tips For Successful Planting)

Celebrations of World environment Day (5th June 2009)are over . Lets not forget that actions related to environmental conservation and development are not one day affair. For those who really wish to contribute and do some thing very concrete in this direction this platform is always open and inviting all of us .
As monsoon is going to be active in the City shortly and if predictions of Good monsoon can really be relied upon, Tree Planting Activity is one of the activities that provide best solution to carbon trapping and environmental amelioration.
If you are also one of those who have planned to take up planting activity this time let me remind you to take adequate advance steps for your noble cause so that your efforts culminate into success.
Few of those tips are listed here:
1. Location of Plantation (school, your office premise, barren land, govt. institutions etc ) should be inspected thoroughly .
2. Decide the number of plants to be planted. If it is a barren land or field then you have to give proper marking on the ground for digging pits based on your spacing (generally it should be 5 X 5 meters or 4 X 4 meters ).
3. Size of pit generally should be 45 cm Cube( 45 cm deep, 45 cm wide and 45 cm length). In case you have big tall plant seedling more than 2 meter height with big earth ball then the size can go even up to 60 cm cube.
4. Check the availability of Seedlings of proper height. Ensure that you should take seedling of at least 1 meter height .
5. If you are planning for planting only a few numbers of trees and there is provision of watering then now you can take up planting any time . So start doing digging of pits.
6. However in case you have planned for a big chunk of land of any institutions involving more than 500 plants then you should wait for one good shower so that soil gets soften and digging of pit is easy.
7. It is always better to get the seedlings transported at least two days before from the source/ nursery if it is very far away from the site of planting. This will help the seedlings to recover from the shock, which they receive due to transportation.
8. The best time of planting is early morning (forenoon).
9. The seedling should be watered profusely one day before planting so that the ball of earth around the root part is moist and hold soil effectively which will be useful while planting .
10. While planting care should be taken to remove the plastic cover around the root part completely and the ball of earth which is moist and intact should be placed carefully inside pit.
11. While placing the tree in the pit, make sure that the soil is at the same level on the tree as when the tree grew in the garden center.
12. Now fill the area around root ball with soil and pack the soil with your hands and feet to make sure that there are no air pockets and the plant is placed firmly .
13. Make a little dam around the base of the tree as wide as the hole with left over soil or grass clumps to hold in the water. We should take care to water daily at least for 7 days and on alternate days for two weeks. This should be followed by once in a 5-6 days for at least one year.
14. In order to get good growth, retention of moisture and provision of humus material Mulching can be provided to the plants. This can be done by putting a layer of rotten leaves, wood chips, shredded bark/papers that will insulate the ground , decrease the amount of weeds that will grow around your tree, keeps moisture around the roots and provides food for your tree.
15. So what more are you looking for ? Lets Start planting now otherwise it will be too late this year .

Friday, May 1, 2009

Translocation of Ficus (Bargad) Trees in Hyderabad: A unique Experience

In one of the unique and commendable attempts of conservation of old Ficus( Ficus benghalensis Vat or Bargad (Hindi) Marri ( Telugu) trees in the country, the HMDA (Hyderabad Metro development Agency ) authorities has taken up translocation of Ficus trees in Hyderabad। In fact this large scale translocation was a result of active persuasion of local organizations / NGOs having concern for environmental conservation with active support of media and forest officials who have very aggressively opposed the unscrupulous felling of age old trees specially Ficus which was proposed to facilitate widening of existing roads and provide connectivity to prestigious Outer Ring Road Project by HMDA. Existing roads between Tipu Khan Bridge & A P Police Academy and Narsingi Village which were dotted with magnificent and gigantic Ficus trees were proposed for felling under ORR Radial Road project III. Recently enacted Andhra Pradesh Water, Land & Tree Act (APWALTA) 2002 has also helped the Forest Authorities to ensure the examination and exploring of various alternatives of tree felling by the user agencies before finally granting permission for felling of these trees which were planted during the period of Nizams.

Active persuasion and continued efforts of the local NGOs specially FFBH (Forum For a Better Hyderabad) and Green Hyderabad Campaign of Times Of India Group has resulted into Constitution of District Level Forest Protection Committee by the Government with a view to facilitate re-examine the permissions for tree felling already granted and also examine fresh applications for tree felling and give appropriate instructions regarding transplocation and other issues related to implementation of tree felling as per AP WALTA। The practice of translocation of trees is not very common in our country contrary to western countries where there is great concern for trees among citizen and they prefer and attempt to save as many as trees possible in stead of felling there in not much information and mechanisms available for this cause . Of late the environmentally concerned citizen and organizations/NGOs have started raising their voices for the cause of protection of trees and this has resulted into consideration of this aspect before felling of trees.

The Forestry Wing of ORR (Outer Ring Road )Project of HMDA has taken up translocation of 220 Ficus trees ( Ficus is one of the best coppicers) । Interestingly one local businessman Sri Ram Dev Rao who is having great care and concern for the environmental conservation has offered his land located 50 Kms away from Hyderabad in Proaddatur Village of Shankarapally mandal of RangaReddy district. Though the translocation of trees has been taken up previously in the Hyderabad but that was limited to one or two trees. However such a large scale translocation that too of trees having girth up to 370 Cms is one of its first kinds in India.

The Forestry Wing has initiated this work during the month of October 2008 by translocating 80 trees followed by 70 Trees during December 2008 and finally 72 trees during the months of January/ February 2009. It was really a gigantic and unique task both for the project authorities as well as the contractor considering the huge girth of Ficus Trees which required lot of advance planning and sustained action to make the translocation successful.

The scene at the site of translocation in Proaddatur village really gives a felling of mesmerization . Once the barren land with hardly few trees in and around is now dotted with huge stumps with copious flush of new leaves coming out of theses Ficus trees. The efforts of Mr. Ram Dev Rao to regularly provide watering and proper care to these trees are worth recognition. Out of 220 trees approximately 25 trees could not respond to translocation and it is likely that a few more may succumb to ensuing hot summer . Howsoever the present survival rate of 90 % in the last 6 months has given a hope and boost the morale of all concerned citizen /organizations. This success is one of the best models for environmentally concerned citizen /Corporate/ Organizations to think the protection of trees in this direction in future and facilitate a way for minimizing the felling of trees in the developmental process. Same time this unique case will provide a good experience for Govt officials to take steps for further improvement in the technique in future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day - 2009 - Lets Resolve for reduction in Pollution, Consumption and Optimum utilisation of Resources

Today is April 22 which is being celebrated as Earth Day . Can we think of something different yet effective way of celebration of Earth Day this time. Global warming,dwindling resources , oevrexploitation, wastage etc are few synonymous terms of expression of present day condition which our Mother Earth is witnessing . Only a civilised animal like man can only act like the Kalidasa (Famous Hindi poet who is also known for penning great classical "Shakuntala") who can only cut the branches of tree on which he was found to be sitting before his marriage.Famous telugu Artist Mr.
Kaladhar Bapu has magnificantlly depicted the present day scenerio through his effective and thought provoking painiting shown here.
Hope civilised persons like us will really ponder over these issues and do their bit for future and sustainability.That will be a real celebration of Earth Day this year and coming years too......

March 2009 Tenth Warmest On Record For Global Temperatures

ScienceDaily (2009-04-20) -- The combined global land and ocean surface average temperature for March 2009 was the 10th warmest since records began in 1880, according to an analysis by NOAA. ... > read full article

Keeping Slim Is Good For The Planet, Say Scientists

ScienceDaily (2009-04-20) -- Maintaining a healthy body weight is good news for the environment, according to a new study. ... > read full article

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Indigenous but GREEN ways of celebrations

While visiting a village of Thrisoor district of Kerala during February 2009 I found the villagers using indigenous and eco friendly practices while decorating their houses for any celebrations or welcoming people during any programme. The palm leaves were cut finely and folded to make nice geometrical shapes and used to make hanging Toranams around the place . Similarly the paper flags of various colors were fixed on bamboo sticks and inserted artistically on the stem of banana and this was placed in the centre of house.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How real Eco- friendly we are? USE OF PLASTIC IN DAILY LIFE

           Election campaign or Plastic campaign ?

      Such scenes are quite common in cities and towns

It has become quite common to preach and cite examples of eco friendly initiatives in day to day parlance. This phenomenon is of universal occurrence whenever there is any official programme /function related to amelioration and protection of environment . The most puzzling aspect in such matter is that we as a citizen or a true nationalist always forget to do our bit whether as an individual or as a community. Use of plastic in our daily life is one of such activities which can be of immense help to protect the environment if used judiciously. Whether it is a purchase of vegetables from local Subziwala or grocery from Big Mall we always prefer or even ask as a right for polythene bags. If you remember your olden days when you never forget to carry a hard perforated basket of plastic while going for market or your local grocer or general store wala used to give you articles in paper bags mostly made of brown paper which we used for putting cover on our books . Now a days even those brown papers are covered with polythene.

Since this is the Election season for out great democratic country the use of plastic has increased many folds mainly for printing of flags, banners, caps which are not only cheap but very easy to produce. One of the biggest sufferer of plastic revolution is the community of local painters in every nook and corner of country which otherwise used to get their livelihood by way of getting orders for writing and printing flags, hoardings, banners etc.

Can we be little caring about our environment by reducing our dependence on plastic at least from today?
Lets start a few of these simple beginnings.
1.Ask our servant to take bag from house while going to purchase vegetables.
2. Request our grocer to use paper bags.
3. Encourage local paper wala to make paper bags and same time request your nearby grocer to use them. ( may be little difficult but not impossible)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Richly caparisoned elephants ready for procession near Thrisoor Kerala

People playing Nadaswaram and Drums 

Beautifully Decorated Elephants 

While returning from One of the villages associated with implementation of Forstry programme in Thrisoor  district on 11th February 2009 I could see a village courtyard rehershing the music and procession for Thrisoor Poram to be held in the month of April-May. Indeed Kerala is blessed with gifts of God.

For some more information and nice collection of pictures of Gods Own country see blog

Monday, January 26, 2009

Where our water sources have gone ?

Effect of development, deforestation and industrialization have contributed a lot in depletion of water resources of the Country. This problem is more acute and visible in hilly areas where the Womenfolk are affected mainly due to this problem. I remember while going to Hanumangarhi ( a place 4 km away from Nainital on Nainital- Haldwani road where this temple was established by Sri Neem Karauli Baba ) during my intermediate days (1979-80) we used to drink fresh water oozing out from springs found in abundance all along the road .We were told that British have provided a nice mechanism to facilitate the flow of water from such springs by providing a metallic outlet having a shape of animal mainly Lion.

While traveling on same road during summer of 2006 I was quite surprised with joy and ecstasy to see one of such springs still giving water. My sons Lokesh and Sanket were quite amused and enjoyed drinking water from this natural source of mineral water.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ghorakhal Temple : Temple of Bells (Nainital )

One of the main tourist attractions of Kumaon ( Nainital ) Gorakhal Temple ( Temple of Famous GOLU DEVTA ) is located near Bhimtal. Situated in tranquil locality of huge Deodar and oak trees and adjacent to Sainik School this temple is just 4 Km from Bhowali and 15Kms from Nainital. The main attraction of this temple is presence of bells of various sizes donated and hanged by the devotees under reverence and in token of fulfillment of their wishes for many decades and still continues .

Rocks near venugopalswamy temple near Narketpally Nalgonda Andhra Pradesh

THis is one of the famous forest areas near Sri venugopalSwamy temple at narketpally In Nalgonda District of Andhra Pradesh India.