Volunteers planting trees in Hyderabad

India's economic boom in recent years has been partly because Western Hemisphere IT companies have been able to outsource their IT requirements to cheaper geeky workers who will code while they sleep.

The effect on a city like Hyderabad of this growth has been that former green belts have been destroyed and built upon. Kantha Rao saw that this was happening and decided to help found and become a director of Planet 3 Protection Alliance (P3PA) in December 2009.

Its speciality is planting trees. It has conducted about a dozen plantation drives in areas like Attapur, Sangareddy and Botanical Gardens, in association with the GHMC and Ganga nursery school.

The Harithon buzz

The 24-year-old social worker realised that in order to attract more attention he needed to do something high profile and so has been organising annual marathons and a Green exhibition. The next, 4th, marathon, called a Harithon, is on February 23 and its purpose is to raise awareness in the city.

Runners in the 2013 Harithon
Participants in the 2013 Harithon

“We want to save our planet and this starts with saving one city and moving to a bigger level. P3PA stems from the fact that Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so it’s Planet Earth Protection Alliance. Harithon is a combination of ‘harith’ which means green not only in Sanskrit but also in Telugu and Hindi, and ‘on’, from words like marathon and Greenathon to make it sound like a march.”

“Earlier Hyderabad was one of the greenest cities in India but with its rapid development, the green shield has depleted over the years. We wanted to bring the change at the grassroots level and that is what gave rise to P3PA,” Rao says.

“In association with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), we have been organising various tree plantation drives involving people from different sections of society, like schools, colleges and corporate companies. Also, Harithon and Green Exhibition have been a part of P3PA over the years to promote eco-friendly ways of protecting environment,” he explains.

P3PA has raised the enthusiasm of schools, universities and MNCs to participate in Harithon. Schools and colleges encourage their students to join the run and corporates take up packages and sponsor their employees. They have an impressive list of sponsors. 

Harithon recruits campus ambassadors who spread the word in their office, school, college and area, Help manage registrations and get sponsors. The campus ambassador with the maximum number of registrations becomes the Face of Harithon.

A Green Exhibition will be held at the same venue, where green companies providing green technology have the chance to connect with their target audience. “This exhibition is a way to spread awareness about practices that can protect Mother Nature. Green entrepreneurs and companies can showcase their best products, ideas and practices like rain water harvesting, square foot gardening, composting and promoting the use of bicycles for commuting short distances,” Rao says.

Silicon recycling

Since Hyderabad is home to a large software employee population, this year’s special theme is silicon recycling, in association with Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited.

“There’s a lot of silicon waste that gets generated in this tech-savvy age. We want people to be aware not just of the carbon footprint, but also silicon. In this regard, Ramky Enviro is going to put up bins to collect the silicon waste like chargers, mobiles, laptops. This way e-waste can be collected and recycled rather than dumped in the open,” says Rao.

Postscript:

R. P. Rammohan adds:

Cheap software is not the only reason for the lost trees in Hyderabad. There are several more very major reasons. 2 such reasons are:

Lakhs (100000= one lakh) of shopkeepers in Greater Hyderabad area do not like avenue trees in front of or near their shops as their shops do not get noticed easily by the passersby. So they either kill them or cut them at the roots or prevent their planting itself. But for this alone there could have been millions of more trees in Hyderabad.

Another major reason is that the enforcement of the WALTA Act [Andhra Pradesh Water, Land and Trees Act, 2002] is almost ZERO.

Daniel Kovach adds: The same perception of the Lakhs is still common in the US.