planting a billion trees: premji bhai inspires the mission of Dr Kalam
While reading the latest issue of Honey Bee Newsletter in Circuit house on 8th night, a cartoon on the life of Premji bhai drew attention of Dr. Kalam. He had recently given a call for ten billion tree to be planted worldwide and here was a man from Gujarat who had already planted ten million by 1996. There was no way dr Kalam would miss meeting him. Contacted by SRISTI, the meeting took place on 9th May at DDIT university guest house. The managing director and chairman of DDIT also took joined the discussion.
Premjibhai, a doyen among grassroots innovators, was felicitated by Dr. Kalam in the Third National Grassroots Innovation Awards, 2005 for his tree seed broadcaster and innovative water management techniques. Premjibhai has been on a mission of planting trees and water harvesting through check dams in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. In addition to planting million of trees, he has also helped in building more than 1500 check dams in the dry regions of Kutch, Bhuj and Surashtra.
The motivation behind Premjibhai’s mission was to bring about greenery in the erstwhile dry and barren regions of Gujarat. Premjibhai said that earlier the wells and hand pumps in his region used to run dry during the summer season, but now the situation has improved remarkably. These days, the wells as well as the hand pumps have enough water throughout the year. Due to the availability of water round the year, agriculture in the region has received a huge boost. Citing an example, Premjibhai said that the villages which used to produce eight truck load of cotton earlier, were now producing around 80 trucks. Unequivocally, the octogenarian innovator said that he wanted his region to be independent in terms of water resources and not dependent only on water from projects like Sardar Sarovar Multipurpose Project.
When asked by Dr. Kalam about his future plans, Premjibhai said that his efforts are directed towards stopping the next world war which would probably be on water resources. He said that given the changes that his efforts have brought about in Saurashtra, the same could be easily replicated throughout the world and thus the impending war could be stopped. Dr. Kalam was greatly impressed by this visionary statement by Premjibhai and he said that he would make sure that his mission is scaled up to realize his dream of a greener and sustainable future.
Before Premji bhai took leave, Dr. Kalam said, “Premjibhai’s efforts have brought the twin benefits of greenery and water in the Rajkot district of Gujarat. To honour Premjibhai and to take forward his mission, he would request all the students and the faculty of DDIT to plant at least ten trees each in their region.”
And there was affirmation to this call. Long live the spirit of Premji bhai, may the Gujarat and the whole India and the world in due course realize premji bhai;s dream for averting third world war likely around water.
Anil K Gupta