Address by Governor at the Inauguration of the 57th Annual Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show in Mumbai
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Inauguration of the 57th Annual Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show organized by the National Society of the Friends of the Trees at D G Ruparel College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Mahim, Mumbai at 1500 hrs on Sunday, 4th February 2018
Dr Smt Pheroza Godrej, President (Emeritus), National Society of the Friends of the Trees, Dr Ashok Kothari, President, Dr Arun Sawant, Vice President and Chairman of the Flower Show Committee, Dr Saraswati Unnithan, Vice President, Shri Bharat Chovatiya, Dr Chandrakant Salunkhe, Dr Tushar Desai, Principal, Ruparel College, Dr Sakina Gadiwala, office bearers and members of the National Society, tree lovers, exhibitors, participants, ladies and gentlemen….
I am indeed delighted to be here to witness the 57th Annual Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show. I welcome each one of the flower – lovers, nature-lovers exhibitors and participants to the Show.
I congratulate the National Society of the Friends of the Trees for organizing the 57th Vegetable Fruit and Flower Show and more importantly, for sustaining the Show for all these years. I also congratulate all the winners of various competitions organized by the Society.
I find from the history that the National Society was formed in the year 1957, three years before the formation of the State of Maharashtra. During the last 61 years, the Society has rendered a yeoman’s service to society by creating awareness of the vital role of trees and created an enlightened public opinion for the protection of forests and increasing tree cover in the urban areas. The Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show, one of the signature events of the National Society has grown in stature and popular response.
Dr Smt Pheroza Godrej has headed the Society for 16 long years with dedication. Even today, as President Emeritus, she has been giving her precious time and energy for the noble cause of environment protection. I place on record my deep appreciation of her silent work of advancing the cause of environment protection. I also congratulate President Dr Ashok Kothari, Dr Arun Sawant and all office bearers of the Society for their magnificent effort in putting up this show. Congratulations are also due, to every single friend of the trees.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Owing to the great bio-diversity of India in flora, fauna and wild-life, India is rightfully known as the ‘Heaven on Earth’.
Our religious texts have attached utmost importance to the sustenance and maintenance of ecology and biodiversity.
The Atharvaveda states, “Our land should be so fertile that the yield taken from it should be recuperated very soon and it should not be harmed by any activity of ours.”
Sant Tukaram had proclaimed his love for biodiversity when he wrote, “वृक्षवल्ली आम्हा सोयरे वनचरे”.
Historically India had 65% forest cover. It shrunk to 40% by the middle of the century. The figure has come down to 19% today.
Let me tell you how, forest cover has direct correlation with our economic prosperity.
In the 16th Century when our forest cover was more than 65 per cent, our GDP was estimated at about 25.1 percent of the world economy.
In his book, ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, Samuel Huntington mentions that in the year 1750, India’s share in the global manufacturing output was 24.5 per cent. Which establishes the direct co-relation between the forest cover and the economic prosperity.
The long spell of foreign colonial domination witnessed uncontrolled deforestation and exploitation of forest resources. Industrialization and rapid urbanization have contributed to the further denudation of our forests. Our immediate challenge is to increase the forest cover from 19 per cent to 33 per cent.
The Government of Maharashtra has taken an ambitious programme of tree plantation and has planted more than 5 crore trees during the last 2 years.
However, the responsibility of increasing the forest cover cannot be left to the government alone. Every citizen is a stakeholder in nature; every student and every child is a stakeholder in nature and therefore the responsibility to plant tree is yours as well as mine.
I was holding the charge of Governor Tamil Nadu for one year. While in Tamil Nadu, a scheme ‘One Student One Tree’ was launched for university students. In a similar manner, I have requested all vice chancellors in Maharashtra to implement this scheme, ‘One Student, One Tree’. Maharashtra has 3 million students pursuing higher education. If we implement the scheme in letter and spirit we can have 3 million trees. What is needed is willing participation and proper monitoring.
Mumbai is an international city. I do feel that the first impression of the city can be improved if there is joint effort from citizens, cooperative housing societies, commercial establishments and the municipal administration.
There should be a plan for plantation of large trees and flowing trees in all areas. Every housing society can be persuaded to keep its surroundings beautiful, clean and verdant. I would request the National Society of Friends of the Trees to start a competition for housing societies to promote aesthetics and tree plantation.
If every single Mumbaikar takes care of 4 potted plants, we can have millions of trees in Mumbai.
Many corporate offices in Mumbai are opting for ugly glass façade these days. Instead, every building should have beautiful plants on all floors. It will turn our concrete buildings green.
Travelling by helicopter, I have noticed that rooftops and terraces of almost all buildings in Mumbai are either lying vacant or these are being used as go-downs to dump unwanted things. We must promote, and if required mandate, terrace gardening. Every society can grow vegetable on the terrace.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On an average, every urban Indian citizen generates nearly 700 grams of solid waste every day. This means, one person generates nearly 250 kg in a year !
More than half of what we throw into the trash is organic matter. If we compost the vegetable waste and other bio-degradable products, we can produce rich top soil for our plants. Spending two extra minutes can help us segregate waste and help the cause of nature.
I would urge the National Society to create a youth wing and involve student volunteers in its work of creating awareness. The Society should also make use of social media to create awareness about its good work.
I reiterate that the Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show can be made a nucleus around which a host of activities of women’s self help groups can be organised.
India has more than 2.2 million Women’s Self Help Groups having 33 million members. The Show can serve as a platform for women to exhibit and sell the homemade products and food items manufactured by them.
May I request Dr Pheroza Godrej, Dr Kothari and others to start district branches of the National Society of the Friends of the Trees all over Maharashtra. Likewise, the Society should also organize the Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show in all major cities in Maharashtra and the country at large.
Since becoming the Governor, I have opened the gates of Raj Bhavan for the common man. People can now make online bookings and visit Raj Bhavan and take a walk along the forest area. During the last three years, thousands of people from India and even foreign countries have visited Raj Bhavan and admired its biodiversity and green cover. Raj Bhavan has 6000 trees, some of which are rare species. I invite you to visit Raj Bhavan and also take inspiration to plant trees.
I assure the National Society of my fullest support to its noble work. I congratulate all the winners of trophies and certificates once again and thank the National Society of the Friends of the Trees for organizing this grand show.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!