Each year India celebrates Van Mahotsav or Forest Week in the first week of July. This tradition was started way back in 1950 by the then Agriculture Minister Dr.K.M. Munshi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Mahotsav). During this week each year states commits to planting certain number of saplings. In Maharashtra the government targets to plant 2 crore saplings in just one week by collaborating with the forest departments, NGOs, Municipal Corporations, Corporates and other social bodies. The motive behind this noble idea was to reduce the impact of urbanization and deforestation.

Although this is a very noble idea, the on ground implementation is very poor. If the governments would have succeeded in surviving even 10% of these trees since 1950 (2 crore each year!), Maharashtra would have been a green carpet. But everyone knows the reality is different. Although there are pockets of success stories all over India, they are rare.

With the objective of contributing to this environmental cause and to make it more sustainable, we decided to celebrate Vanotsav at Tunga Trekkers with a slight difference. With our several initiatives in tribal villages, we have made a strong base in Saiwan village near Vajreshwari. In this village we have started the Sports Gurukul project which is gathering good momentum as is evident from the medals and prize money our kids have won.  Tunga Trekkers have adopted 25 kids from this village to be a part of the Sport Gurukul. These same kids have been promised a scholarship for maintaining and nurturing the saplings for a year. With the help of these village kids from Saiwan, we managed to prepare around 800-1000 saplings. The kids have been working hard since Feb-March this year collecting seeds from the forest and preparing the saplings. Tunga Trekkers have invested money in buying soil and sapling bags.

In July we had invited various groups and people in the Van Mahotsav week ie 1st week of July to help with plantation drive. The response was really overwhelming. The first group was a bunch of enthusiastic members of Tunga Trekkers who had got their families and friends for the event. This group managed to plant about 100+ saplings. We also distributed 110 school kits.

Then came a group of Athletes from Future Athletes Club where their head coach decided to celebrate his birthday with us and plant saplings on this special day. It was indeed a noble thought by the head coach Rakesh Dhanu Sir, thank you for your contribution.

The third group was from City Academy for Special Education which deals with educating kids with special needs. It was a truly inspiring experience to work with this organization for such an event. The day was well spent by the kids of this school in close proximity with nature, frolicking in water and paddy fields while learning about rice cultivation. The highlight of the event was at mealtime where the city kids tried out the simple vegetarian village food of daal, chawal and sabji and exchanged it for the pav bhaji and pulao that they had bought from the city with the village kids. Such informal interaction and spending time with each other bridges the gap between the classes and masses. The day ended with a surprise announcement by the school management offering to take the village kids on an all expense paid trip to Nehru Planetarium and Science Centre. A big thank you to Principal Deshpande Madam and all the teachers and management for planning this trip and making it a big success.

There were several other groups and people who contributed to the success of Tunga Trekkers Vanotsav. Mandavi Forest Department, Krishi Bazar Samiti Palghar, B.P. ed. College Students and Teachers, SAI athlete club students and coaches and many other Tunga Trekker well wishers.

After the resounding success of the plantation program, the most difficult part begins now. To maintain the saplings and ensure they survive. This is how Tunga Trekkers have come up with an innovative model. The kids will be given a scholarship of Re.1 a day per sapling to ensure they maintain it for a year. Normally nature will take care of the saplings till September ie till end of the monsoon season. But after that the kids have to water and nurture the plants till the next monsoon. By then the saplings would have become strong enough to survive on their own. Kids would pledge to take care of a number of saplings and the scholarship would be given on that basis.

We would also like to pledge to you to adopt just 1 sapling for Re 1 a day for a year which makes it Rs.365/- a year. I would be soon adding a link for crowd funding of this campaign in this section. Alternatively please contact Vivek Patil to make your contribution using online banking.