Mumbai: It's raining coconuts in Bhayandar

Updated: 03 August, 2020 08:12 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Massive tree plantation drive in church complex aims to give through greening, plants 100 saplings

Fr Barthol Machado plants a coconut tree (right) Noel Corriea said they got the saplings from Dahanu
Fr Barthol Machado plants a coconut tree (right) Noel Corriea said they got the saplings from Dahanu

Parish priests and parishioners of Our Lady of Nazareth Church in Bhayandar (W), along with locals, smashed a Sunday morning century with a difference.

The community came together to plant 100 coconut tree saplings, in a 27- acre ground, part of the church complex adjacent to its building.

People power
Fr Barthol Machado, parish priest said, "We began planting at roughly 10.30 am. Our land and conditions are ideal for coconut growing. This is a church initiative, but villagers from Bhayandar also pitched in to help. There was great gusto, but we had to restrict numbers in these times and ensure that the project took off adhering to social distancing."

Though the COVID-19 outbreak has called for curtailing gatherings, there was no let up in the enthusiasm of the locals, "Some brought us coconut tree shoots (at least 3 foot in height) from near their homes, asking us to plant these too," said Fr Machado who believes that, "this brings people together, though right now only in spirit. We wanted to do our bit for the environment, and with the pace of life falling for a bit, was the ideal time to do so."

Adopt initiative
Parishioner Noel Corriea said, "Preparations for the drive began at least 10 days in advance. We got the coconut tree saplings from Dahanu. These were four year-old trees, and now we have planted them in pits dug for the purpose." Both Fr Machado and Corriea said that it would be, "three to four years still, till these newly planted trees in the church complex bear fruit." Corriea, who is part of the Church’s Property Committee, claimed, "Currently, we are hemmed in by the pandemic but we are planning to rope in the community in a bigger way in this plantation project. We have decided to ask our 15,000 plus parishioner base to ‘adopt a tree or trees’ and they will be in charge of that plant, though the overarching authority of course, will be the church."

Land cultivation
Rufus D’Souza, parishioner and Property Committee member who was part of the drive said, "We have had a tremendous response from villagers. We must remember primarily, Bhayandar was a pocket where people were into land cultivation. The soil here, the greenery, run in the blood of locals whose forefathers were farmers, before development and industrialisation. Today, lifestyles have changed but we are realising the importance of how trees preserve water and the way they maintain ecological balance. Trees are the most unselfish of living beings, they give us so much and demand so little in return," he said.

D’Souza believes that it is this connect with the land, the understanding of the environment that has drawn villagers to this project. Authorities of the more than 450 year-old church, part of Bhayandar’s ecosystem, are working towards extending tree plantation to August 15, Independence Day, when they want to plant trees like mango, banana and gulmohar. "We have started digging pits for the same," they ended buoyantly, through supportive cheers for more green cover in the rapidly
growing suburb on Mumbai’s Western Railway line network.

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First Published: 03 August, 2020 07:41 IST

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