The Green Man


If I ask you, whats common between a plastic tea cup and an empty whiskey bottle, then what would you say. Ok, let me surprise you, both are used to plant the tree saplings. They are the homes for young tree saplings. What would otherwise be thrown on the roads or sold to the radhi wala’s they both are used to house the young tree sapplings. All credit to the “Green Man“, Subedar Venu Gopal !

Venu sir, is not just a hard working, disciplined and patriotic army man but also a die hard environmentalist. His passion for green, not just ensuring greenery around but a clean and green environment.

Venu sir was given the responsibility of landscaping the 60 odd acres of land in the 1 EME center, Alwal, Secunderabad, andhra pradesh. Now he translated the 60 acres into a clean and green 60 acres. Take a look at the list of things he built in the 60 acres
1) rain water harvesting pits
2) irrigation canals
3) nursery plant
4) a sun dial, only 3 other such sun dials exist in entire India
5) a temple for the jawaans
6) a lot of small initiatives to beautify the place such as paved roads, a nice pool
7) replenish the ground water table
8) waste material management

This itself is an impressive list of projects, but if I say that the raw material used in these projects was primarily from reusable and waste materials you would be in awe of the green man.

Army men and Civilians cannot coexist: I remember when I was a kid, I was so scared of entering any area controlled by the army as I always felt a divide exists between the army and the civilians and civilians were strictly off the limits.

While Venu Sir was making great strides in the project, a purely coincidental visit by sahasra to this nursery took the project to greater heights. Sahasra manage to bring in experts in rain water harvesting and plantation, who provided valuable inputs to give a strategic direction to the overall project. Now this kind of association couldn’t have been possible without the complete cooperation from the army. Venu Sir along with his superiors clearly saw the role that Sahasra and its partners can play in making a significant contribution. They were open to suggestions, willing to learn and flexible to adapt.

Go green: With sahasra’s help, the team is trying to identify schools, colleges or even residential colonies where the saplings can be planted in an effort to spread the message, “Go Green”. Come to think of it, it’s actually quite cool to say “Go Green” :). Venu sir has also promised to use the military truck whenever possible to help transporting the saplings.
He also accepts donations of seeds and saplings so he can nurture them in the nursery. Oh and he also sells them to civilians, you know that’s a nice way of income generation, especially when the project doesn’t rely on any funding as such.

Very resourceful: Before giving the task to Venu sir, when a private company was approached they quoted 17 lakhs. Venu sir did this with a budget of 70k. I will leave you to do the imagination part as to how this can be even conceived forget about implementation. From effective
management of waste material to man power utilization to financial prudence, the “Green Man” has pulled off every single trick taught in the likes of Haward business schools. Despite the great transformation, Venu sir is a completely down to earth person. One of the big traits of a successful social entrepreneur.

The ever enthusiastic:

Venu sir takes great pride in how he and his team along with sahasra’s contribution has helped transform the entire place into a clean and green stretch of land. When I met him along with sahasra, during my trip to India, he took the entire team to have a closer look at all the major works that have been taken up in that area. Be it the temple construction or the rain water harvesting pits or the small canals to channel the water or the support work to help bolster the roots of the tree, he would go over every single detail and patiently answer all the questions. He must have done this tour so many times but yet it felt as if that was his first tour ever. It’s just the love and passion that drives him towards this commitment.

The more people know and learn from this the more will be it’s impact. What Venu sir has done is not just possible in the army area but can be replicated everywhere.

When i asked him whether their superiors would ever object to what he is doing, he gave me a simple answer
1) I’m using all reusable and mostly waste material so there is no additional cost and hence no additional funding is required from the department
2) he is only making the place look better
3) he is using the services of the jawaans that are assigned to him

He essentially said, its not important who you are and where you are, if you want to make an impact you will do so. And by the way, I call him green also because he is wearing the green uniform all the time 🙂

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