Uday Krishna “The Tree Man of India” at GOA – Saving trees everywhere

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Uday Krishna Peddireddi
Uday Krishna Peddireddi

Mr. Uday Krishna Peddireddi of Hyderabad, whom we call “The Tree Man of India” has done it again, saving one of the biggest tree fallen at GOA and bringing back to life. Read the entire story in his own words.

Saving a fallen giant:

Saving a fallen giant:

This is no normal story.. it happened during the global Covid-19 crisis and in a very remote location in Goa where lived a tree of life, that was a major attraction to the large expat community living in that area. The community would spend a lot of time under this tree specially which was spread over an acre and could easily accommodate over 500 dancers, Yoga/meditators etc.. it was a part of their life and it had come crashing down. A huge banyan (tree of life) with branches that spread over 60 feet and covered over an acre of land was on the ground and they watched helplessly… its not a pretty sight.. a huge banyan tree helplessly on the ground.

On 12th of August I got a msg..

“Hello. My name is San. I have a small Goa Banyan Project (in Goa). A huge banyan has tipped over recently and thereis interest in keeping it alive. I am aware of your expertise in this area and I was wondering if you could be available for a quick chat? Thanks much” This was Sanobar Durrani is the Convenor of Goa Banyan Project. I requested for a pic to better understand the situation.

The fallen giant

San’s call was followed by a chat with Marc Francis, from Living Heritage Foundation and after detailed deliberations I understood that the location was besides a beach and wasn’t accessible for any heavy equipment and going by the videos and pictures a minimum of 80 Ton crane was required to work on reviving the tree.

By this time Goa Banyan Project represented by San, Living Heritage foundation represented by Marc, Pria, Madhu, Renuka and Phoebe, Arambol Eco Champion Clive, Anna, Gary, Tikki, Santosh and many more, had come together to explore what it could take to get this tree back up. The Arambol Community sent out a distress message and quickly raised about 2 lakhs for the project, (donors from across the globe contributed for this) while the others members were looking out for someone who could be having some experience in this kind of a job and San found me on the internet.

Meanwhile Vata Foundation had about 500+ trees ready for translocation in Hyderabad. This was the result of a long drawn effort including legal battles. Hyderabad however was drenched in heavy rains and the translocation of the 500 trees was delayed this gave me an opportunity to head out to Goa. Keeping in mind the remote location and also the lack of suitable heavy equipment I had to depend upon old school techniques to bring up this giant of a Banyan. One of my old contractor who specialized in moving heavy equipment came to my mind. His son Naresh now takes care of that work. A quick call and he agreed to come along with a few of his experienced men. However there were hurdles. Covid-19 had changed our lives. Travelling to Goa was not going to be easy. Naresh’s team needed passes to enter Goa and also had to take a Covid-19 test. These were arranged by Marc Francis and by Aug 15th Naresh and team was on the way. My ticket too was arranged and I reached the spot on the 17th.

The first look changed everything that I had analyzed remotely from Hyderabad… the tree was not a single tree.. it was a collection of younger trees that grew on the host tree and ending up crippling it almost fully. So the host tree which was the oldest tree but was almost dead.. strangled by probably its own off springs who probably germinated form bird droppings on higher branches. So here were about 5 to 6 banyans interwoven into a complex system who had strangled their host tree which in most places was rotting. So the basic trunk wasn’t a trunk, it was a collection of roots of the next gen trees that grew at a height of about 30 feet and hence there was no bulk in these roots that appeared like a massive trunk. They were hollow inside or were clinging onto the host tree trunk which was rotting and had no life.

Saving Tree at Goa - Uday Krishna Peddireddi and Team Image 2
Saving Tree at Goa – Uday Krishna Peddireddi and Team Image 2

The host/mother tree strangled by the younger offsprings…

The host/mother tree strangled by the younger offsprings…

There was a need to get this tree back on its trunk asap… and my role was to ensure that would happen.. but there was a problem. There was a pressing need to ensure maximum number of branches were kept intact and it took me a whole day to convince the locals that it would not be safe fro the tree and could cause another uprooting. So it was decided to go as per my plan but that was the easy part. How was I going to ensure that the over 100 Ton tree was up in its original place without a crane? Now that I was there it had to happen… no choice. I had to save this tree for whatever it takes.

Day 1 pretty much ended with basic prep work and a single attempt to see if the tree would even move with a single JCB. One JCB didn’t even move the tree by a Millimeter. So a request was sent out for heavier equipment maybe a 200 Poclain and a couple more JCBs. A 200 Poclain was available but how to get it to the spot was the challenge. The tree was close to the beach and Naresh found a way to get the 200 onto the beach further down. From there it could come to the site. So it was ordered to join the force the next day.

Day 2 started off on a slow note and we realized the 200 wasn’t coming and a second JCB had joined in. A few branches were trimmed and the plan was to dig up a bigger pit reduce some weight by removing a few branches and then push the tree into the pit to shift the weight to the bottom and then lift it up. Sounds like a simple plan but executing it was not going to be easy. Day 2 ended without much progress. A larger pit and a few trimmed branches and another attempt to move the tree with 2 JCBs. The JCBs had no impact at all. We had to get a larger machine. The 200 was to arrive by midnight. We called off work a bit earlier so that the team could catch up on some sleep.

Day 3 started off on a slow note. The place where Naresh and team was staying had a water problem and there was no water. The 200 Poclain had arrived as promised and it was about 10 by the time work could start. Over the day attempts were made to move the tree but it was just too heavy and required removing atleast 3 to 4 big branches. After convincing the landowner the branches were trimmed up and after the pit was ready, attempts to push the tree into the pit started off successfully. After 3 attempts the tree was into the new pit and it was time to lift up the main tree. JCBS were struggling even to move the giant and the ropes were breaking like threads. This giant was way heavier than anticipated. The 200 looked helpless. The pit was dug up further and the 200 was used to push the giant further into the pit. The weight had transferred significantly into the pit and it was time to attempt a lift once again. Every little step forward was greeted by a huge round of applause and step by step the tree was going up!! Time for the final push had finally arrived. The atmosphere was electrifying. Everyone around was witnessing something they thought was impossible. Their favourite Banyan was going to be back up on its feet!!! And truly so the final push had put it back in its original place. A bit battered and bruised but time heals. In a few years he will grow back considerably. So finally the giant was back on its feet and the crowd erupted into a frenzy. Claps, whistles, jumping in joy, everyone was expressing their happiness under the same tree they so loved.

A special mention at this point is necessary… while I was busy with my team doing what we do best, Members of the Arambol Community, Goa Banyan Project and Living Heritage Foundation were busy making all the arrangements… right from freshly baked cakes and biscuits by Anna to samosas and chai to Spl Chicken Biryani by the others. None of them had the experience of organizing the heavy equipment but Renuka and Madhu handled it as best as they could and in the end somehow managed… Marc and his crew were busy ensuring every aspect of this project was captured by there professional team.. Santosh being an engineer was ensuring everything was being carried out with safety measures in place, Gary and Clive were the gems… always smiling and absorbing every minute of the project. These people come from very very different backgrounds but it was the love for the Banyan that kept them together.. such is the strength of nature! The beauty of this project was the coming together of all the beautiful people from various NPOs, groups and individuals from across the globe, with the sole purpose…. saving this beloved Banyan tree that many of them had visited and admired in awe… it was this love that had made this possible.

The banyan was up… but that’s just the beginning. It still has a lot of challenges and a few months before it is completely on its own… but till then the community will revel in this success story of what can be achieved when people from across the globe come together in unity…. Nothing is impossible.  

There was a need to get this tree back on its trunk asap… and my role was to ensure that would happen.. but there was a problem. There was a pressing need to ensure maximum number of branches were kept intact and it took me a whole day to convince the locals that it would not be safe fro the tree and could cause another uprooting. So it was decided to go as per my plan but that was the easy part. How was I going to ensure that the over 100 Ton tree was up in its original place without a crane? Now that I was there it had to happen… no choice. I had to save this tree for whatever it takes.

Day 1 pretty much ended with basic prep work and a single attempt to see if the tree would even move with a single JCB. One JCB didn’t even move the tree by a Millimeter. So a request was sent out for heavier equipment maybe a 200 Poclain and a couple more JCBs. A 200 Poclain was available but how to get it to the spot was the challenge. The tree was close to the beach and Naresh found a way to get the 200 onto the beach further down. From there it could come to the site. So it was ordered to join the force the next day.

Day 2 started off on a slow note and we realized the 200 wasn’t coming and a second JCB had joined in. A few branches were trimmed and the plan was to dig up a bigger pit reduce some weight by removing a few branches and then push the tree into the pit to shift the weight to the bottom and then lift it up. Sounds like a simple plan but executing it was not going to be easy. Day 2 ended without much progress. A larger pit and a few trimmed branches and another attempt to move the tree with 2 JCBs. The JCBs had no impact at all. We had to get a larger machine. The 200 was to arrive by midnight. We called off work a bit earlier so that the team could catch up on some sleep.

Day 3 started off on a slow note. The place where Naresh and team was staying had a water problem and there was no water. The 200 Poclain had arrived as promised and it was about 10 by the time work could start. Over the day attempts were made to move the tree but it was just too heavy and required removing atleast 3 to 4 big branches. After convincing the landowner the branches were trimmed up and after the pit was ready, attempts to push the tree into the pit started off successfully. After 3 attempts the tree was into the new pit and it was time to lift up the main tree. JCBS were struggling even to move the giant and the ropes were breaking like threads. This giant was way heavier than anticipated. The 200 looked helpless. The pit was dug up further and the 200 was used to push the giant further into the pit. The weight had transferred significantly into the pit and it was time to attempt a lift once again. Every little step forward was greeted by a huge round of applause and step by step the tree was going up!! Time for the final push had finally arrived. The atmosphere was electrifying. Everyone around was witnessing something they thought was impossible. Their favourite Banyan was going to be back up on its feet!!! And truly so the final push had put it back in its original place. A bit battered and bruised but time heals. In a few years he will grow back considerably. So finally the giant was back on its feet and the crowd erupted into a frenzy. Claps, whistles, jumping in joy, everyone was expressing their happiness under the same tree they so loved.

The banyan was up… but that’s just the beginning. It still has a lot of challenges and a few months before it is completely on its own.. that story will follow shortly.

Author and Photograph by:

Uday Krishna Preddireddi our beloved Uday, a man of virtue lives in Hyderabad, India a true Samurai of Nature. He and his institution has made it possible to transport thousand of grownup trees from one place to another. Most of them were not even had a chance to survive. But his dedication made impossible, possible.

IBG NEWS proud to have him as our Editor Nature and Wild Life.

We also express our thanks to his team

The Arambol Banyan Revival team consisted of:

Vata Foundation Goa, Banyan Project Living Heritage Foundation ,

Arambol Eco Champions:- Wagner, Tikki, Clive, Anna, Gary, Santosh etc

Saving Tree at Goa - Uday Krishna Peddireddi and Team Image 8
Saving Tree at Goa – Uday Krishna Peddireddi and Team Image 8