Crusading beyond the classroom: DU makes it mandatory for all students to plant a tree


Express News Service

Last week, the Delhi University made it mandatory for all students to plant a tree anywhere in the country as part of the institution’s environmental action-oriented programmes. This programme will expect participation from undergraduate, postgraduate and MPhil/PhD students. The student needs to submit the GPS coordinates/site location of the plant with its photograph to their respective college/department/centre. The photograph must include a placard noting the name of the tree, name and course of the student, location and date of plantation. Students are required to submit a status report every six months, with photographs of the plant.

The man behind this initiative – Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director, Himalayan Studies, DU Centre – says he got the idea after reading a recent report that said several countries have made it mandatory for citizens to plant a tree. “I realised that students and teachers are the most organised mass, and since environmental education is compulsory in colleges, theoretical education is not going to help. So, I thought why not move from environmental education to environmental action,” says the Marine Biologist.

Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director,
Himalayan Studies, DU Centre

Sahoo points that many trees are planted in Delhi on the annual Van Mahotsav. “But we have no clue about how many survive. If many of these had survived, our forest cover would have substantially increased. The ratio of trees to people in India is 28:1, while in the US it is 699, Greenland has 4,964, Australia has 3,266, Canada has 8,953 and China has 132 trees per person. With the way things are proceeding, Delhi-NCR will be a heat island in a few years. There is so much concrete jungle here, and concrete absorbs a lot of heat. The best way to reverse things is by increasing our per capita tree cover,” he adds.

The initiative has already won the steady support of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. “We will ensure that our UG and PG students plant one tree, and will entrust this responsibility to our School of Environment Studies. We are yet to work out the modalities of how we are going to monitor it,” informs Mahesh Verma, Indraprastha University Vice-Chancellor.

Even students are happy with the decision. Dharmendra Sharma, a PhD student in Botany from DU, says, “It is good that our internal assessment depends on this. I coach students who are preparing for DU entrance exams, and had shared this update with them. Even they are excited about planting a tree.” PhD student Satya Prakash feels Covid has made people understand the importance of oxygen. “I recommend planting  amaltas, saherwa, sakar, kadam, gulmohar, guava, peepal are good options to be planted because these require very less water,” he adds.

There are rules on what students can and cannot plant. They cannot plant shrubs and small plants, but have the go-ahead for big oxygen generating trees, fruit trees and indoor oxygen plants. “We have formed an advisory committee that will soon hold a webinar to guide teachers and students in this exercise. I hope the public joins us in this noble cause, because then our forest cover will increase quickly in the next five years.”

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