Project GreenHands receives Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar

06 June, 2010

Sadhguru Receiving Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar

Project GreenHands (PGH) was awarded the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar (IGPP) for 2008 by the Government of India on June 5th 2010 from the former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The award was presented in recognition of the outstanding contributions made by PGH in creating environmental awareness and reversing ecological degradation. The IGPP also includes a cash prize of Rs. Five Lakhs and a silver lotus trophy. In order to commemorate World Environment Day and the receiving of the award, PGH organized the planting of saplings in 32 locations across Tamil Nadu

The IGPP was instituted in 1987 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This national prize on environment is named after the former Prime Minister of India late Shrimati Indira Gandhi and is the highest award in India bestowed on individuals and organizations for significant contributions in the fields of environmental protection, conservation, regeneration and awareness creation. Criteria such as replicability of the work, innovativeness, target groups – such as women, rural populations and urban poor, impact of the programs in relation to the resources employed, and the sustainability of the project are considered before a decision is taken on the award.

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Isha Foundation, founded by Sadhguru in 1992, is a volunteer-run, international nonprofit organization which addresses all aspects of Human well-being. Isha Foundation is operated by over 2 million volunteers from more than 150 city-based centers spread worldwide. The Foundation is headquartered at Isha Yoga Center, set in the lush rainforest at the base of the Velliangiri Mountains in southern India, and at the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences on the spectacular Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee, USA.

Isha Foundation also implements several large-scale human service projects to support individual growth, revitalize the human spirit, rebuild communities, and restore the environment. The projects include:

Action for Rural Rejuvenation a rural revitalization program offering medical care, community rehabilitation, and human upliftment to more than 2,500 destitute villages in rural southern India.

Isha Vidhya, a pioneering English medium, computer based education initiative to be established in 206 new village schools in rural southern India by 2014.

Project Green Hands, (PGH) a massive public reforestation effort aiming to plant 114 million trees, restoring 33% green cover in Tamil Nadu, India.

Till date, PGH has involved over 2 million people in planting 8.2 million trees increasing the green cover of Tamil Nadu from 17% to 21% in just 4 years of time. PGH with the involvement of highly motivated volunteers, Corporate & Business houses, more than 263 schools / Colleges and over 1869 communities, created 400 nurseries in over 21 districts of Tamil Nadu, enabling this massive movement.

PGH also has a Guinness World Record of planting most number of trees in three days. 8,52,587 trees were planted involving 252,000 volunteers. The planting was done in 6284 locations across 27 districts in Tamil Nadu, India on 17th October 2006.

PGH has established a culture of care for the environment, inspiring each individual to plant two trees and inspire another individual to do the same. PGH has been very successful in motivating large groups of volunteers thereby ensuring the survival rate of the plantations. Along with this, post-planting surveys monitor sapling growth progress and trigger replanting if necessary. This is being done periodically ensuring the seedlings grow into full trees.

Target groups are involved by conducting continuous awareness campaigns on tree maintenance, green exhibitions, sustainable farming, agro-forestry, annual celebration of the World Environment Day, along with eco clubs established in rural schools. This explains its impressive sapling survival rate which stands at 65% on average and holds the capacity of offsetting a whopping 44,300 tons of carbon dioxide.

PGH promotes about 36 different varieties of trees, which not only benefit the environment, but as well provide products for farmers such as timber and fodder for their livestock, fruits that improve the nutrition of the rural population, flowering and shade trees that beautify the landscape.

In the last 6 months, PGH has taken the initiative to green two of the most polluted / industrializedcities of Tamil Nadu - Tirupur and Karur. This is done by raising environmental awareness and planting 25,000 and 10,000 trees respectively in the heart of the districts involving the local population.

PGH Plan for the next 5 year 2010-14

  • To reach 10 million people through innovative environmental awareness programs, eco-clubs, media and mass events globally and distribute 15 million saplings
  • To plant 4 million saplings in agro forestry involving farmers
  • To establish a centre for environmental education
  • To create 40 model green villages in 4 clusters with the participation of 100% of the population and towards a minimum of 33% green cover.

Sadhguru, while acknowledging the ‘Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar’ award says, “Though this is a major recognition for the work done by our volunteers and well-wishers, we should not forget that the work is only a small drop in the ocean when compared to what is needed to be done.

It is not out of any quest for any award or recognition that we set out on this endeavor to green the planet but out of concern and involvement about the well-being of Mother Earth who sustains and nourishes all life on the planet.

This massive expression of concern and commitment for the well-being of all is unique and I am sure it will inspire many around the world to emulate the same. So let this be a moment to renew our love, dedication, and commitment towards this mother that nurtures all of us.”

At this juncture, Isha acknowledges all its Partners - Corporates, NGOs, Educational Institutions, Volunteer Individuals who jointly took these huge initiatives towards saving the environment.

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