Bringing back a Tree of Life :– back to LIFE!!
By Uday Krishna Peddireddi
There are stories and there are stories… of rescue.. of recovery.. of satisfaction… of a sense of achievements and this one is right up there in that list. Vata Foundation is a team of green warriors.. who constantly keep their eyes and ears open to saving fully grown trees. In the normal case scenario, we have road widenings.. flyovers.. underpasses.. highway expansion works etc which often displace fully grown trees.. this was a different scenario.
On the 18th of July a couple of huge Banyan Trees caught the attention of our warrior Dharmendra.. they were mercilessly trimmed up and uprooted and left to the side of an inner road to die. A quick message in our Whats App group and the trees came into focus. When a tree comes in the way of development we have to quickly find a sponsor/adopter and the move has to be as close as possible so as to ensure higher possibilities of survival etc.. however the situation with these two Massive Banyan Trees was very different. The trees were already uprooted meaning we didn’t have any time at all.. the only comforting factor was the variety.. a Banyan tree.. is a very hardy tree and can survive in the most extreme situations… we have seen them take over huge palaces (Ranthambore) Temples (Cambodia)… they can survive almost anywhere.. so it was a case study for me to see if these trees can survive so many days after being uprooted.. and the team started scouting for a donor/Sponsor and adopter.. we were fortunate enough to find one very quickly… Sachin one of our core team member quickly found Mr. Arun Mishra who is employed with Infosys in the USA and his sweet little daughter Arushi Mishra, who came forward to support us with this rescue. We now had a sponsor and needed a place. Schools have always been one of my preferred locations to and this time with Arashi taking charge of raising funds for this I thought it had to be a school. A quick lookout zeroed in on Glendale Academy about 60 Kms away.
The move was planned asap and on 22nd about 4 days after the trees were uprooted the move was happening. We reached the site early morning but eh day didn’t start off as expected. The cranes and truck arrived around 9:30. I make it a point to start off as early as possible. This helps in many ways.. we are fresh with maximum available energies, traffic is relatively lesser early mornings and in the case of any delays, we do have maximum time available.. provided we start early.. as early. Here it was already 9:30 and the Crane operator (who took up the responsibility to shift the trees) drove in with one 14 Ton Hydra Crane!! I said this is impossible. How was this one crane going to lift such a huge tree? A 50+-year-old Banyan tree weighs a lot.. and in this case even though the tree was trimmed up it still weighed a lot. Banyan trees are full of a milky liquid which is very dense, this liquid helps the tree survive in case of any eventualities… for days.. and the only hope I had on these trees was the season.. it was peak monsoon and gave them a fighting chance.. if we could save them as early as possible. So here we had a situation where the crane operator arrives with only one small crane and wants to move the tree.. I almost gave up on him immediately. Moving heavy objects is a risky business.. and I know that very well… had been through a situation where a 100-ton iron structure almost fell on me when the crane operator made a mistake… and that nightmare always plays in my mind whenever I have to move anything heavy… but this time the crane operator was confident. He said he was getting another crane and will finish the job and asked me not to worry. The size of the truck too was a concern but I told myself to leave everything to the operator and relax… I left everything to him and waited quietly. The second crane arrived and soon the 1st tree was getting loaded!! By about 12:30 the first tree got loaded and was on its way. The operator didn’t get a second truck and we had to leave with the 1st tree hoping the second truck would arrive soon enough and send the 2nd tree off to its destination.
We stopped enroute for a quick lunch and reached Glendale Academy by about 2 pm.. we awaited the arrival of the first tree. After about 4 pm we were able to get in contact with the operator.. after one tyre burst and two flat tyres the tree finally reached the school by about 10 pm!! It was a long day and the team was exhausted but we couldn’t leave the place without replanting the tree.. and the first tree was back in the ground by 11:30 pm.. it was a long day and we had one more tree left for the next day.
The next day 23rd July saw a new challenge.. a truckers strike left us with no trucks. This was sad. Every move comes up with new lessons. Even though with the vast experience and understanding that we have to start early this time we were at the mercy of the operator. He was a skilled chap and was managing the cranes superbly and I had no option but to go with his flow. The second day went off without any event and the tree still lay out in the open. it was the 5th day from the time it came to our notice and must have been a day or two already since being uprooted. Finally 24th afternoon the second tree was planted by about 2 Pm and it was a moment of joy! We managed to move two very large Banyan trees and planted them to provide for a second chance. Now it was up to Mother Nature to take charge from here.
If everything goes off well, these trees will start sprouting new leaves within 2 weeks… and we can finally say we have brought a Tree of life.. Back to life!!