Orissa had an exceptionally severe monsoon this year. The flooded rivers devastated large areas of cropland and forests. Many trees were felled as a result of the deluge. Forests in 13 districts were razed to the ground. Government and voluntary agencies are there to rehabilitate the people but what about destruction to trees? Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj who is ever in the forefront of environmental conservation stepped in to carry out the greening of Orissa after the rains stopped and floods receded.
The BAPS sadhus and volunteers girded up their loins to carry out the task. Meetings were organised in villages to alert and awaken the residents so that they would become aware of the need to restore ecological balance which the deluge had upset.
The accent was on planting fast-growing and quick-yielding saplings. A list was drawn up which included coconut, banana, cherry, jack fruit, mango, lemon, jamboo, potasu, neem and guava. The saplings were supplied by the horticultural department of the Government of Orissa and Vivekanand Training and Research Institute.
The saplings were collected at the beginning of August. They were distributed and planted in the five villages of Chakulia, Banipat, Badabilari, Sri Chandanpur and Badabudha. A total of about 5,700 saplings were given to be planted during the afforestation programme : banana-1800, mango-950, coconut-600, neem-500, lemon-400, cherry-400, jack fruit-300, jamboo-300, potasu-250 and guava-200.
The sadhus saw to it that the saplings were taken proper care of and not forgotten after the first watering. Individual families were made responsible for the nurturing of the plants. Weekly inspections were made to see that things were going on as planned. Youths were entrusted with the task of supplying manure (fertiliser) to the plants. The Sanstha also arranged for the spraying of saplings with insecticide.
On 17.8.2000 saplings were planted after performing the puja of Thakorji. The ceremony was attended by Sri Arvind Bahera of the Orissa State Horticultural Department, Sri Rameshbhai and Sri Jaksibhai of the Vivekanand Research and Training Institute and Sri Purushottamjivan Swami, Kothari of Calcutta mandir. Shriji Maharaj's blessings were invoked to make the plants flower and yield fruit. On 23.8.2000 a sapling was planted by Sri Ranjandas Mahapatra of the Forest Department. The villagers were given training to take care of the tender plants. The residents were supplied with tomato, cucumber, etc. to plant in their kitchen gardens. Vegetable seeds were also distributed on the occasion.