It was a rare outing for students of Government Higher Primary School at Kanminike to the south of Bangalore. Accompanied by five teachers, over 100 students walked into the Global Eco Club (GEC) farm on Mysore Road. They went around in a line, enjoying the fresh air on a sunny day. Some of them chased butterflies, while others curiously watched honeybees at work.
Finally, they assembled at a place where they were told that each of them could pick up a plant of their choice. Their faces lit up, as their eyes reached for their favourite ones. As they walked away with their favourite pick, after a refreshment of biscuits and water, Arun Kumar, who runs GEC, broke into a broad grin.
Nurturing love for the environment in young ones is one of the many activities of GEC, which is striving for a greener Bangalore. Arun gave up his eight-year franchise of Reliance Infocomm to pursue his passion. “I felt I should do something on the green front,” says Arun, who came up with the idea of Project Gandhadagudi to plant sandalwood saplings in educational institutions. He first approached the management of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and planted medicinal and sandalwood saplings on its sprawling campus.
“In one year, I planted over 2,000 saplings across Bangalore. PES University gave me a 20-acre land where I grew saplings of medicinal, fruit and flowering plants, besides vegetables,” says Arun. He was inspired by Salumarada Thimmakka [Thimmakka of the saal trees], the environmentalist who planted and tended to nearly 300 trees along a 4-km road in Magadi taluk of Ramanagaram district. “If you have the passion and idea to do some service, support will come your way,” he feels. “My policy is to sell and serve. Initially, I executed all works of GEC with my personal savings. Now I sell saplings to corporates, estates and other individuals to raise funds for initiatives like planting saplings in educational institutions and giving saplings for free to school students. My aim is a garden in every house of the city. I want to build a strong community to protect the environment,” he adds.
The farm is also a model of how rainwater can be properly utilized. It is sustained by just one borewell, which is recharged with rainwater collected in pits dug at four different spots. The farm, with around 20 fruit and several medicinal trees, has a separate section for indoor plants apart from special species to attract butterflies and bees. “I’m aiming to make Karnataka the fruit capital of India,” adds Arun, who helps out farmers in association with the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR). “GEC exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs action and support,” he signs off.