Authorities are now proudly showcasing the benefits of tree plantation in mitigating the impact of natural disasters, pointing to Naluvedapathy’s example in an effort to encourage a coastal green belt.
Three hundred farmers had toiled hard to plant a world record 80,244 saplings on December 2, 2002, overturning a previous record of 42,182 trees planted in Nilgiris, also in Tamil Nadu.
The saplings were planted in a one-km long coastal strip spread over 20 hectares, giving Naluvedapathy a natural green cover.
Jain, who led the plantation drive as the village’s top government official, has started a trust since the tsunami struck to undertake tree plantation along the 1,000-km coast of Tamil Nadu with the help of his engineering school classmates.
“We don’t need to anymore advertise the benefits of tree plantation… (It) is the cheapest and best way of rehabilitating the tsunami ravaged coastline,” he said.
Villagers say trees are perhaps the only defence against a future tsunami. “Every village on the coast should plant trees. We
know the worth of trees, it’s more precious than your life,” Madiyazhakan, a 55-year-old farm labourer, said with a wide grin.