Narander Mehindru, a 56-year-old resident and former general secretary of RWA Sector 41 Noida, started planting fruit-bearing trees across India. His aim? Hitting his target of one lakh fruit trees.
According to Mehindru, everyone knows the benefits of planting trees. However, most of us don’t get the time or don’t really have the inclination to go that extra mile to plant a tree. “We encourage people to plant trees near their homes, free of cost,” says Mehindru, talking of his group, Falam Taru.
He talks to City Spidey about his inspirational feat.
This is perhaps the first such initiative in Noida. How did you begin?
Since my schooldays, I’ve wanted to do something good for humanity. One day, while reading about medicinal plants and tree-planting drives to counter rising pollution levels, it struck me that I should start planting trees that bear fruits, as no one else seemed to be doing it. I started in 2013, within days of the brainwave.
What is the idea behind your initiative?
The idea is to make people breathe cleaner air and eat healthy. Our country has a population of about 1.3 billion. If we manage to plant 250 crore fruit-bearing trees, we will have ample fresh fruits for everyone, along with cleaner air.
So how do you find time?
I chose to quit my job to do this full time. While I’m not planting trees, I’m busy making people aware of the idea. This is my passion and I’m living my dream.
What kind of plants do you grow?
We choose the plants according to the local weather. For example, we planted apple and pomegranate trees in Srinagar. We also educate people on what trees they can plant in their compound, depending on the space available. We encourage them to start their own nurseries.
Where do you get your plants from?
For now, we are dependent on various nurseries, but soon plan to only source plants from our own four-acre nursery.
What are the places you have planted trees in?
We started with various residential areas across Noida, such as sectors 12, 40, 41 and 93, but we also planted in industrial sectors such as 63. We have planted 200 trees in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) compound in Srinagar. We also carried out a tree-planting drive with the help of my friends at the Government Polytechnic College in Ajmer, Rajasthan.
Cuold you give us an idea about how many trees you have planted till now?
We have planted about 1,200 to 1,300 trees till now. We plan to realise our goal of planting one lakh in the next 10 years.
Any hurdles on the way?
Yes, there are a few, but they hardly deter us. Surprisingly, one of the most common problems we encounter is people throwing stones at the trees to steal the fruits. More often than not, they miss the fruits and break windows. I bear the cost of all such broken windows. Let something as small as this not discourage people from planting trees.
Finally, any message to City Spidey readers?
Our group, Falam Taru, aims to make India pollution-free. We want India to be the biggest fruit-producing country in the world. Join us!