Roots of progress: Planting trees for Gujarat’s holistic developmentDear Friends,
Tomorrow on the auspicious occasion of Pavitra Baras in the holy month of Shravan, I will inaugurate this year’s Van Mahotsav. In the last few years, the annual Van Mahotsav campaigns in Gujarat have added a totally new meaning to concepts of social forestry. It also brings out our determination and commitment to ensure that our future generations inherit a greener planter from us.
To inaugurate this year’s Van Mahotsav I will travel to Mangadh, a beautiful hill village located in Panchmahal’s Santrampur Taluka. It is the soil of Mangadh that produced some extremely brave Adivasi heroes who sounded the bugle of revolt against the unjust colonial imperialism. Back in 1913 the British mercilessly killed 1507 Adivasis when they had assembled to protest endless exploitation, reminding us of the brutal Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. It was for the first time since the First War of Independence in 1857 that the spark of patriotism was ignited among the people of Gujarat with so much intensity, dedication and idealism.
The Adivasis were led by Govind Guru, a beacon of bravery and inspiring leadership. Through his spiritual teachings, he worked for the cause of freedom, rights and self-respect of Adivasi communities. He tirelessly worked towards creating awakening among his people so that his community can develop at par with the rest of the society.
Govind Guru was a man truly ahead of his time. The contribution of individuals such as Govind Guru remains edged in the memories of time and is something that simply cannot be erased from the annals of history. The people of Gujarat will never forget the mammoth contribution of its proud sons such as Govind Guru in taking the nation on the path towards freedom.
Today when we commence the Van Mahotsav 2012 from Mangadh, we are paying our wholehearted tributes to these brave individuals who sacrificed themselves at the altars of truth and justice. A Govind Guru Smriti Van with 1507 trees along with various exhibits will be set up as a tribute to these heroes. The oneness that our Adivasi friends have with nature is very well known and I am certain this step will enable many others to get inspired not only by the likes of Govind Guru but also the importance one must give to conserving our forests.
It is our firm belief that every initiative of the Gujarat Government must be a full-fledged mass movement! There is nothing more sacrosanct than the complete and active involvement of people power. In this regard, we ensured that all major Government initiatives are held not from the confines of the state capital but out there among the people. The Van Mahotsav is no exception- you would be interested to know that since 2005, the Mahotsav has been organized in different parts of Gujarat that is blessed with a distinct cultural and historical significance. There we strive to leave behind a permanent memory in the form of a ‘Van’ that serves as a cultural and tourist spot in its own right be it ‘Punit Van’ in Gandhinagar (2004), ‘Mangalya Van’ in Ambaji (2005), ‘Tirthankar Van’ in Taranga (2006), ‘Harihar Van’ in Somnath (2007), ‘Bhakti Van’ in Chotila (2008), ‘Shyamal Van’ in Shamlaji (2009), ‘Pavak Van’ in Palitana (2010) and ‘Virasat Van’ in Pavgadh (2011). This truly becomes a unique opportunity to explore our culture and strengthen our roots with history.
Gujarat is leaving no stone unturned to enhance the green cover across the state. Just a week ago, I was extremely pleased to read a newspaper report that said that Gandhinagar is India’s tree capital. Latest figures show that 53.9% of Gujarat’s capital is covered with trees which means there are 416 trees for every 100 people in the city. In our country geographical area under tree cover is 2.82%, while for Gujarat the number stands at 4%. In 2003, we had 25.1 crore trees outside the forest cover and by 2009 the number went up to 26.9 crore; in the next ten years we are working towards taking it to 35 crore. Infact, I am delighted to share that Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Bhavnagar are cities that are greener than most green cities of the country.
Friends, worshipping Mother Nature is an integral part of our rich culture. In our culture we believe that God resides in the trees! I am sure that this effort of Van Mahotsav will go a long way in creating a greener and more beautiful Gujarat. We must plant as many trees as possible- Infact very often I tell parents to plant 2 trees on the birth of a girl child.
I am attaching a copy of a book on Govind Guru and a report “Status of Tree Cover in the Urban Areas in Gujarat”. I congratulate the Forest Department in bringing out such an important report on tree cover in our cities. I am sure you will enjoy reading these fine pieces of work.