BHOPAL: The shortage of oxygen causing hundreds of deaths of Covid-19 patients in the country during the second wave of the pandemic has focused attention on treesóthe natural producers of the life-saver gas.
Trees release oxygen when they use energy from sunlight to make glucose using carbon dioxide and water in a process called photosynthesis. On an average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.
On the eve of World Environment Day, 2021, themed on ëEcosystem Restorationí, Free Press spoke to a few environmentalists and social activists in the city who have launched campaigns to promote plantation of saplings. They are urging Covid-19 patients who were on oxygen support during their treatment and the families of deceased patients to plant trees. Excerpts:
Plant at least one tree
"We all know that trees produce oxygen. And the second wave of the pandemic has made us realise how important oxygen is and how it can make a difference between life and death. Weíve launched a campaign, ëSaghan paudaropan se oxygen hamara uddeshyaí, under which weíve been appealing to Covid-19 patients who were on oxygen support during their treatment to plant at least one tree. Weíre also appealing to the family members of deceased Covid victims to plant trees in their memory.
At the height of the second wave, when the cremation grounds were flooded with the dead, I used to help in arranging for food for the overworked employees of the Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat. It was there that I obtained the phone numbers and addresses of the persons who came to cremate their family members. After a gap of 15-20 days, I contacted them and requested them to plant a sapling in the memory of the deceased person around their homes. It was difficult to persuade them, but most of them agreed. I asked them to get a pit prepared and I went to their homes with saplings. So far, Iíve persuaded around 30 families to plant trees. Iím also requesting them to look after the trees. I tell them to see their father, son, husband, wife or brother in the tree. My campaign will continue." -Sunil Dubey, environmentalist.
Epidemic is a warning
"The Covid epidemic is a warning. If we donít wake up to the need of protecting our environment, humanity will have to face more such calamities. Iíve been planting trees for 20 years. Iíve planted around 2,500 trees so far in different parts of the city. Almost 90% of them have survived. Some of them have grown 40-50 feet high. I only plant banyan, mango, peepul, neem and guava trees. Itís because banyan is the only tree which produces oxygen round the clock, while neem and peepul trees generate the live-giving gas for 18 hours. Iíve planted around 60 saplings of these trees in the past two weeks. Planting trees isnít enough. Itís also important to protect them for at least three years. They should be watered and tree guards should be used to save them from animals. I appeal to Covid patients and the families of deceased Covid victims to plant saplings so that we wonít have to face a shortage of oxygen in future." -Uma Shankar Tiwari, environmentalist.
Rent for the cylinders
"When oxygen was in short supply in the city, we provided oxygen cylinders and concentrators to the patients. We requested their families that, once their patient recovered, they should plant at least one tree. That would be the rent for the cylinders and the concentrators. We also requested them to send a photo of the sapling they planted. Weíve helped around 51 people in this way till now. By Godís grace, all of them have recovered. Weíll continue to request them to plant saplings to recover our rent." -Shailendra Dubey, social activist