There is an Oleander tree in the making in the campus of CMS College of Science and Commerce. I placed it in a dug out hole, packed in the mud around it and watered it. Many visitors to the college are invited to plant a sapling in the campus. They go away feeling good. That is the idea, say principal K.T. Varkey and faculty Thirumal and Ram Mohan.
The feel good factor intensifies as one looks around the campus. There are trees everywhere and under the great big canopy of a tamarind tree one actually feels a chill in the air, a far cry from the scorching main road just a few meters outside. It must be because of the one-and-a-half-acre Bio-diversity Park that welcomes you at the entrance.
The park is more a forest, really. A meticulously documented compilation by assistant professor B. Poongodi lists the trees in it. They include sandalwood, striped bamboo, yellow flame tree, jamun, Indian butter tree, dragon fruit, kigelia and cluster fig tree. The document has photographs of the trees, their local names, botanical details and medicinal uses, if any. It is this valuable documentation that creates awareness amongst the people on how bio diversity, if allowed to flourish, can work environmental miracles.
While the forest is man made, no one intrudes into it now. It has been allowed to grow the way it wants to without human interference. Several peacocks have made their home there. Ram Mohan, a keen birder, has spotted at least 28 different species of birds on the campus. Fishes swim in a pond, and the forest floor, now covered with fallen leaves, is home to snakes and scorpions, they say!
“We are hurtling towards disaster and we have to put the brakes on. This is one way of doing it,” says Dr. Varkey. The greening effort has also led to a plastic-free campus and trash segregation. Students are actively involved. The faculty and student body of CMS have abiding interest in conservation and ecology. They are also committed about involving children in greening activities through the Children’s Forestry Programme, among others. CMS College organised the Global Youth Summit on environment to sensitise human beings on the enormous consequences of defiling nature.
It is obvious that Dr. Varkey and Drs Thirumala and Ram Mohan are almost militant about the greening drive. The inspiration, says Varkey, was a trip to Tokyo and an interaction with OISCA a global Organisation for Industrial Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (see below). Environmental sustainability is a big part of its mission. Varkey holds the post of the State President of OISCA, Tamil Nadu, and naturally, his colleagues and students are active in it.
One comes away from the CMS campus with optimism. There is hope as long as there are environment activists such as Varkey, Thirumala and Ram Mohan. The fact that they are teachers and mould young minds is the cherry on top. Surely, the alumni of CMS College will carry the environmental torch far. As for me, I will check regularly with them to see how my Oleander is faring.