M A I N   N E W S

Kalam’s 100-yr-old friend, the tree Arjuna
Vibha Sharma/ TNS

New Delhi, June 5
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam chose to remember his 100-year-old friend Arjuna, with whom he shares his official residence at 10, Rajaji Marg, on World Environment Day today. Incidentally, Arjuna — the “biodiversity friend” — is a tree.

“I daily walk for about one-and-a-half hour, early morning and at night, at my home. My tree friend reveals something new whenever I take a walk. You can ask me, one single tree of 100, can it become a living post for biodiversity? I firmly say yes,” Kalam said, as he weaved a fascinating story for the audience at Vigyan Bhavan about his friend, botanically called Terminalia.

“The age of the tree and that of my parents is almost the same. My father lived 103 years and my mother 90-plus,” Kalam said as he spoke about his tall friend’s relationship with others in the vicinity — about the 300-kg honey in a beehive on the tree, guarded by thousands of working honey bees, who seasonally collect nectar from flowers in his garden, about mynas, sparrows, black crows, cuckoos and parrots, to whom Arjuna provides shelter.

“My tree gives in all seasons beautiful shadows to living beings… I have seen peacocks dancing in numbers around the tree. Then the peahen select inside the bush around the tree, a choice for laying seven to 10 eggs… This lifecycle, we see every year,” he said.

Kalam said biodiversity of the nation could be the basis of achieving triangular growth mission of ecological conservation, societal empowerment and economic development. “Wherever you are, whatever you do, you can certainly make a difference to the environment and conservation of biodiversity. It may be home, may be school or college or it may be work centre or walking path on the road or garden,” he said.

And in his characteristic style, the former President also made everyone take an oath.

Host Ramesh skips function

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh skipped the function as he is currently in Hyderabad in connection with his re-election to the Rajya Sabha. Though his name was printed on the invitation card, Ramesh himself was conspicuous by his absence. Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Company Affairs Salman Khurshid, who had stepped in for Ramesh, asked everyone to dedicate themselves to preserve biodiversity for future generations.

Recipients of eco awards

Sadhguru J Vasudev of Isha Foundation was awarded Indira Gandhi Pariavaran Puraskar for the year 2008 in recognition of ecological initiative called ‘Project Green Hands’. Young Environmentalist of the Year Award 2010 was given to Ishita Bishnoi from Delhi. The E.K. Janaki Ammal National Award for Taxonomy-2008 given in two categories of plant taxonomy and animal taxonomy to Dr V.J. Nair and Dr Ramakrishna, respectively. Special commemorative stamps were also released in addition to a book, Pollution Control Acts, Rules and Notifications. It contains various Acts and rules concerning protection and improvement of environment.





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