There is a drive gaining momentum in Tamil Nadu. Citizens have taken the initiative to prevent cutting of palmyra tress, the state tree.
The official number of palm trees in Tamil Nadu is 51 lakh but many say that’s just a number, it is far less as more and more palm trees are being felled for making way for other industries for as little as Rs.100 per trees. However, with citizen initiatives to revive palm products and increase the tree cover, palm climbers are hopeful of a better future.
A small example – one village - Nayambadi in Thiruvanamallai district had two palmyra fields with more than 1,000 trees in each in the village common grounds. Villagers used to lease out the land to palmyra climbers who would create different products. One could not cut a single tree without official permission. But with demand for palmyra products going down and not many drinking neera, today there is no trace of the palmyra fields that once graced these villages.
Besides palm climbers, environmental and cultural activists too have come together in support of the tree. They have started planting of these trees as a huge social initiative. These trees prevent soil erosion and are usually planted near water bodies acting as bunds to prevent flooding. The trees themselves are drought resistant.
29-year-old Saminathan runs The Palm Climbers, a Facebook page in coordination with Semmai, an NGO, promotes sustainable living by selling palm products on the first Sunday of every month in Chennai.
Cambodia has tapped the full potential of this humble but tall tree but we in India have focused only on industrial economy instead of rural economy.