IPledgeATree With Vodafone And GrowTrees

9.04.2014 Kanha, Madhya Pradesh 481111, India

There was a time here when there was deforestation to such an extent that we couldn't even spot a Fox in the patch confirmed one of the laborers. Today,just before we arrived,there was a Tiger with its two cubs crossing the same area,which even killed a bull.They proudly said there are 50-60 Cheetahs in the forest .The question in our mind arose “Tigers,Don’t they harm people” to which they replied “Not if we stand still and do not disturb them! He is also scared of us” We were at the Kanha - Pench corridor trying to do our bit to nullify the Carbon Footprint as well as create future livelihood and contribute to nature.We were growing future trees by planting saplings with the help of Vodafone and GrowTrees

Planting a Sapling of Hope

Shooting out to Mandla in our caravans early in the morning,we didn't know what was ahead.We just knew the journey is going to be for almost 4 hours one way as we were being told.Surprisingly as I expected Jabalpur to be,it exceeded my expectation.I remember 6 years back when I was in Bilaspur and I came to Jabalpur to visit the Dhuandhaar Falls and the Marble Rocks(which is India’s Niagara,if you haven’t visit this place,add it onto your list),things were different.And now,Jabalpur has a small airport(may be even then it had which I never heard of),and the smallest luggage belt I have ever seen.It starts from one corner and ends at another,i.e making it quarter the size of a regular airport belt.Once we were out,we could spot the black birds to which the 2 Rahuls said are bats.But after a while we realized they were birds! And there were plenty , touching their nest at the airport roof and flying out.We wondered what was the mystery behind this random touch and go!

50 Shades of Green

After about an hours ride,we reached Jabalpur where we stayed at Hotel ‘Satya Ashoka’ .My room had a view of the Jabalpur Stadium.The rooms were neat and large,the food was great,and the best part was it even had a Beauty Parlor(which I didn't get the chance to use).Sadly the WIFI didn't seem to work as we expected and it had a shady bar which we as girls entered only to hear the old Hindi songs,some uncle with whiskey glasses in their hand who were stunned to see our presence and we were told by the staff that the beer can be served at the restaurant too upstairs.So we cleverly moved upstairs.We also could take a walk in the Stadium at night only to find out that the people use it more like Joggers Park.The tracks are laid and the Stadium is clean and open,so that makes it perfect for people to burn some fat quite peacefully.

Jabalpur To Mandla : The Journey

Watch the video to know how I #IPledgeATree with Vodaphone and GrowTrees At The Kanha Pench Corridor

Now this stretch is already so Green,you would wonder why and what are we doing.In fact you could see 50 shades of green in various forms,in forms of trees enveloping the roads,in form of green fields which pass by,in form of random waterholes that you say hi to,in forms of everything.The roads are fabulous,no potholes,no crowded streets.But what was not-known to us was the patch we were planting trees had been affected massively due to deforestation by nearby factories for their internal usage thus creating a corridor in between Kanha and Pench.I love Madhya Pradesh by the way,its so underrated,yet its beautiful.Not for the Kanhas and the Bandhavgarhs and the Dhuandhaar and the Khajuraho,but as a whole.The road drive in Madhya Pradesh are no less than awesome.Along the way,we stopped at Madhya Pradesh Tourism Hotel which served good food.After which to the plantation site was another hour.

In between the discussion arose,on what kind of trees are we planting,and will they survive if not taken care of.We came to know that the trees being planted were local to the area like  Karani, Harra, Baheda, Bamboo, Khamer, Ladiya, Mango  and Amla. Rahul who shared his knowledge said,not all trees help.Rather not all trees are trees.Some which look like trees are bushes like the ones we saw on the two sides of the road.Neither all trees help in ecological balance.Some trees erode the soil,like Bamboos,which is a grass,which spreads its root in a massive way.That is why Bamboos are planted to create natural external fences around the other trees.While Anusha shared her stories from the treks and trips which she does for the cause 'Summiting For Hope' and her company 'Bohemian Adventures'  and her journey as a mountaineer to where she is today, and Rahul 2 told about why he skips conventional journeys to more offbeat ones in search of his own peace of mind.He plans to do Parvati Trek till Spiti sometime in the future.Amrit said he doesn't like trekking after an extensive course at HMI,Darjeeling but he told me about his popular video on vimeo which is on 'Because Rape is not always about Sex'.While I listening to all I could,had my eyes on the beauty of the nature which was every second passing by.

Bhopal, 27 August, 2014:  Vodafone India, one of India’s leading telecom services providers,and Grow-Trees.com, the exclusive Indian Planting Partner for United Nation’s Environment Program’s Billion Tree Campaign, today announced the formal launch of their join initiative to create India’s first private wildlife corridor. This corridor is being developed between Kanha-Pench wildlife reserves by planting 3,00,000 trees over a 3-year period.To formally launch this plantation drive, Mr. Rohit Adya, External Affairs Director, Vodafone India and Mr. Ashish Chandra, Business Head – MP&CG, Vodafone India, handed over a sapling to Mr. Bikrant Tiwary, CEO, Grow-Trees.com.

The Plantation Site: Things We Didn't Know

The Plantation Site was spread across 100 acres mainly in land of patches for which the distance between each patch is recommended by the forest department.The trees were bought in from nurseries of forest department,which in turn the locals and Grow Trees create their own local nurseries near to the site,and from these nurseries the saplings are brought in as then bringing them is easier to the site.

According to their understanding of the area,75% of the Saplings survive,while there is 25% mortality rate.These 25% are replanted.The trees grow in different shapes and sizes and takes their own time,some grow faster,some slower.But on an average for about 3-4 years it needs monitoring.

Rata Village:The People,The Livelihood,The Trees

The produce which comes out of these trees belongs to Rata Gaav.Rata Gaav has 180 families.
To which when we asked ki “Aap apas me kaese bante ho" and he had a simple answer “Aesa tanav ni rehta sir.Jo jaha paya wo uska hua”.They continued that now since the season is monsoon,they make their livelihood by farming mostly Dhan Khet.The plants such as Mahua is its best in January while Mangoes in March.Hence it fills the gap.Meanwhile the Mahuas are used to produce wine,Tendu leaves are used in Bidis.The other plants grown in this area are Awla,Bahera,Harra. Usually the produce is being sold to the forest department than the local markets because they give better rates.

Vodafone and GrowTrees: Working together for a cause

The Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) is a planting partner of Grow trees which help in collaborating with local committees,involving them with responsibility of taking care of the trees so that the man animal conflict that which we are facing now,would be talk of yesteryears.In his statement,Tiwari,the head of Grow Trees said “We all talk about Green House Effect but seldom act,we are giving a platform to act and Vodafone has supported us fully in this beautiful cause.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Rohit Adya, External Affairs Director, Vodafone India, said,“Vodafone India is committed to supporting sustainable initiatives that benefit all – the organisation, the community and the environment. With this unique project, we will be able to offset 33 million kg of carbon footprint generated by our offices every year for 3-years. In addition, we will be able to support livelihood opportunities, enable reforestation and create a corridor between Kanha and Pench to facilitate habitat connectivity in tiger breeding areas.”

Elaborating on the significance of this initiative, Mr Ashish Chandra, Business Head – MP&CG, Vodafone India, said, “Madhya Pradesh is endowed with rich and diverse forest resources. With 9 national parks and 25 wildlife sanctuaries, almost 25% of the state is covered with forests. Home to a large tribal population and an attractive tourist destination, these forests provide a source of income to several thousands. This initiative with Grow-Trees.com is our way of supporting conservation of an importance natural resource and means of livelihood.”

 This project will create about 25,000 workdays of direct jobs mainly for women and tribals inhabiting the area in addition to supporting several allied livelihood generating activities such as farming, fruit and honey gathering etc. on a sustained basis. The site is in Sijhora Range and would be jointly protected by three villages - Majhipur, Jogisoda and Chandiya. A variety of trees, including Karani, Harra, Baheda, Bamboo, Khamer, Ladiya, Mango  and Amla, that are local to the region will be planted. Saplings of these are already being grown in the special nurseries funded by Grow-Trees.com.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bikrant Tiwary, CEO, Grow-Trees.com, said, “Approximately 45% of India's land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, mining and excessive groundwater extraction. More than two thirds of this can be regenerated and our endeavor is to facilitate this by providing planting opportunities to individual and corporate customers. We are delighted to have Vodafone India as our corporate partner to support this novel project of wildlife corridors for enlarging wildlife habitats. The size and scale of this private reforestation initiative is the biggest till date in the country. The planting process on site will be led by our on ground partner FES.”

The GoPro,The Train Driver And The End

GoPro catches rare fascination and its every time.Poor Amrit,when he started his go pro for the Ariel shots of the plantation instead of people doing their own work had their camera shutters on for the GoPro. He jokingly said “Once someone started interviewing him for his machine”.He also told how he once lost his go pro during the Ariel.

Returning back,we could see the train following us for a stretch.We asked the driver to which he said the train goes from Jabalpur to Mandla and the crossing which you see ahead “Since the British days and even now,the driver himself closes the crossing while the guard opens it”.India - Land of Strange Stories,isn't it?

Have you been to Jabalpur or Kanha or have you been associated with a cause similar to this,feel free to share your stories :)

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