What led 39-year-old Subhajit Mukherjee to quit his 12-year-old career as a human resource personnel will leave many Mumbaikars astonished. A year ago, when his doctor cited pollution to be the reason for his frequent headaches and sore eyes, this Malad resident decided to do something to deal with it. He gave up his job and made it his mission in life to make Mumbai greener by planting saplings.
In the last one year, he has planted 29,230 trees across the city with 95% survival ratio. Subhajit says, “As a Mumbaikar, I felt the need to do the best I can for my city. Quitting my job was the only way I could devote more time to the cause. The bad quality of the air in Mumbai affected me during my long commute to the office, and I did not want it to affect others.”
He took to visiting housing societies, schools, government compounds, corporates, and convincing them to join the movement to make Mumbai green, by planting a tree. In his single-minded dedication to fight a war against pollution, Subhajit has been urging Mumbaikars to adopt plants and take care of them.
He adds, “The BMC is planting lakhs of trees across the city, but due to lack of participation by citizens and care, they do not survive. The trees are treated like orphans. My movement aims to encourage one crore Mumbaikars to adopt one plant each to guarantee the growth of one Crore saplings into full grown trees.”
The Movement Mission Green Mumbai – Each One Plant One is getting great support. With #IPlantedMyTree citizens are planting a tree sapling and posting their selfie with the Tree on social media.
Subhajit and his group of like-minded green Mumbai enthusiasts don’t force anyone to plant trees. In fact, after a careful inspection, they themselves go to societies, schools or grounds to plant them.
“To ensure growth, we have volunteers visiting the site, monthly or quarterly, as required. For schools, the ‘each one teach one to plant one’ program is a huge success. With the help of schools, parents and students take home free saplings provided by us and nurture them for six months. As a reward, they are given certificates and surprise gifts. So far, over 7,100 fruit trees have been given to kids after careful scrutiny,” he says.
Due to construction debris in Mumbai, the quality of soil has deteriorated. So, Subhajit teaches pit composting, with the wet waste, which is available for free in societies. “This will not only support wet waste management, but also will give manure to the plants. It supports micro green farming at home,” he elaborates.
They also send soil experts and horticulturists to inspect the green space in societies and create the best biodiversity.
The biggest challenge in our city is space, but they have overcome this with the help of citizens, who visit societies to identify available space. “We have successfully planted thousands of trees in societies, with a 95% survival ratio. More than 5,000 societies have come forward to give us space for planting trees. This is the true spirit of a Mumbaikar,” he says.
However, there are some challenges that they are facing here.
“Many societies are not following the National Green Tribunal rules, and they prefer to kill the plants or concretize the entire space available for car parking, play area or beautification. This is really unfortunate,” he adds.
As per the environmental and BMC guidelines, Subhajit only plants native fruit and wood trees. “Neem is a special focus for its healing nature. We have 37 varieties of trees approved by the forest department, which we strictly follow. To maintain the quality of the saplings, we have special nurseries where saplings are grown under our supervision.”
Subhajit doesn’t support or encourage citizens to plant trees on the roadside, due to safety reasons. “We only rely on BMC to do it. Roadside plantation is the most difficult task. The shopkeepers intentionally kill big trees and also do not allow the saplings to grow. The vehicle owners too do not park responsibly, and thus, they intentionally run over the saplings, as they do not want to let go of a free parking space. However, I am hopeful that things will change for the better,” he signs off.
To join the movement, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org OR visit his page.