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    Soliga tribal community at MM Hills have been trained to use the invasive Lantana species to make furniture.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

    Soliga tribal community at MM Hills have been trained to use the invasive Lantana species to make furniture. | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

    Members of the Soliga tribal community on M.M. Hills use the plant to earn a livelihood by making furniture from them

    Behind the innocuous, little, bright flowers that pepper much of the country’s landscape, lies a sinister tale that threatens to tip the fragile balance of the eco-sensitive forests.

    The near-omnipresent Lantana Camara, originally from South America but introduced in the country during the British Raj, has invaded much of the country’s habitats. The “lantana problem” has forest officials stretched to contain the “invasion” that is blamed for increasing forest fires and choking out native grass and tree species which provide fodder for herbivores.

    For the unassuming Mahadeva, 34, however, the “toxic” weed is now a resource to fuel his livelihood. For seven days in a month, he and around 16 others from the Soliga tribal community set off into the forests of M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in south Karnataka in search of lantana. The plant is uprooted, and the sticks collected in neat bundles weighing more than 30 kg each. The bundles are then boiled and the bark peeled off. In the next few weeks, the sticks are fashioned, bent, nailed, tied and glued on to form furniture — stools, sofas, beds, bookshelves and more — before the process is repeated.

    “It not only resembles cane furniture, but matches it in durability and quality,” Mr. Mahadeva says.

    His tryst with lantana started a decade ago when the concept of lantana furniture first entered the undulating forests of M.M. Hills — a key part of the contiguous forests that now host among the densest tiger populations in the world. Envisioned by researchers at Asoka Trust for Research into Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bengaluru, over 50 villagers were trained since 2004 to use lantana and develop market linkages for the furniture.

    “At the time we started, the tribal community had lost their livelihood as the Forest Department had prohibited the extraction of bamboo. We taught them how to use lantana instead and helped form a society to market the products. Now, nearly 80% of their livelihood comes out of lantana itself,” says Harisha R.P. from ATREE who is coordinating the project.

    For 30-year-old Madu, who has been working with lantana for over a decade, furniture-making has seen him settle down in his village rather than move around in an uncertain search for daily wage labour. “As demand rises, fewer people are going out to find work. Before, we would be affected when drought hits the farmlands. Now, we have work throughout the year,” he says.

    The centres are set to expand, as workers are now struggling to complete an order to make 50 large elephant statues with lantana. “We are guaranteed ₹500 per day, and are even taking labourers for ₹300 a day. This sort of earning is unheard of in our tribal village,” says Narayana, who has taken charge of processing orders.

    Though away from retailers for now, the demand — placed through direct orders only — is soaring, and production is only constricted by the logistics of transporting furniture from forests. At the three centres in M.M. Hills, over 50 types of products are made that eventually make their way to offices and resorts in urban centres.

    Controlling lantana

    While there have been no scientific studies on the ecological benefit of this work, anecdotal evidence suggests that lantana spread may have been contained locally.

    There are now three centres at M.M. Hills itself, and Mr. Harisha estimates that more than three tonnes of lantana is extracted yearly. “Once uprooted, it takes lantana at least three years to come again. This window may give a chance for native species to thrive again,” he says.

    In many patches of M.M. Hills, this “window” is evident. Ravi, a worker at Anehola centre, says during the early years, lantana could be extracted almost at their doorstep. “Now, we have to go 3 km into the forests to find usable lantana,” he says.

    The expensive alternative would be to mechanically uproot the plant, which has become a threat second only to poachers in deciduous forests.

    During the summer, the weed becomes brittle, turning forests into tinderboxes where fires spread with alarming rapidity. The fast-growing, near-drought-resistant lantana dominates the landscape, gradually outcompeting native plants that are crucial cogs in the forest biodiversity. To top off the seeming villainy of the plant, lantana is toxic to grazers and is actively avoided by elephants. The Forest Department states that in Bandipur Tiger Reserve — which is home to over 100 tigers and thousands of elephants, sambars, gaurs and deer — lantana is found in 80% of its nearly expanse. The cost of uprooting lantana in just 5 has been estimated to be ₹1.8 crore — or, if one were to extrapolate for the entire reserve, more than ₹250 crore for what is still a temporary solution. It is easy to understand why ATREE pushes for this low-cost innovation that deals with two socio-ecological problems in forests: livelihood and containing lantana. So, why not profit through this proliferation?

    Spreading the innovation

    The success of the M.M. Hills experiment has seen the concept spread among other tribal hamlets. Over the years, ATREE as well as Soliga tribals are called to forests of south India to train others in making furniture. In 2009, The Shola Trust helped set up two lantana furniture centres in Mudumalai Forests — where lantana is found in more than 200 of forests. Lantana furniture is being made in the forests on the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand; while, a little more than a year ago, 70 persons from four tribal hamlets in forests of Siruvani Hills near Coimbatore were trained by Amrita University.

    “This is just in the training phase now, but there has been considerable success. Just through exhibitions, we have sold ₹1.7 lakh worth of furniture already. We just can’t keep up with the demand,” said Maya Mahajan, Associate Professor, Centre for Sustainable Future at Amrita University. The university plans to expand this to other hamlets in the region, hoping to capitalise on the increasing demand from tourists.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Mohit M Rao / M.M Hills (South Karnataka) – April 29th, 2017

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    Annamma with her new truck   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

    Annamma with her new truck | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

    Buys truck to increase volume with door-to-door collection to make up for decrease in price of plastic & paper waste

    She was a 10 years old when she started following her grandmother as she picked up waste from the city’s streets. Thirty years later, Annamma has established herself as an entrepreneur. She has become the first waste picker in the city to buy a truck for door-to-door collection of dry waste, and is already looking to purchase a second vehicle in the near future.

    For somebody who was picking waste from the streets as late as 2013, Annamma’s rise is nothing less than phenomenal. “When the civic body wanted waste pickers to start manning dry waste collection centres (DWCC), I was not confident about taking up the task. I lived in a hut with no electricity and had saved ₹50,000 to build a house. But I invested the money and started a DWCC. This centre has grown into a business today,” she says, beaming with pride.

    She has been running the DWCC for ward 101, Kamakshipalya for four years now. She now deals with nearly two tonnes of dry waste every day.

    She was able to avail a loan to build a three-bedroom house in Ullal Upanagar, where her hut once stood. “My daughters used to read sitting under a street light or read all night on the new moon day, as there was no electricity. Today, they have a study room,” says Annamma.

    Recently, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) gave the responsibility of door-step collection of dry waste twice a week to DWCCs, mostly run by former waste pickers in their respective wards. This entails expansion of DWCC operations and capital investment on vehicles and personnel.

    Annamma, who is one of the more successful entrepreneurs in the sector, acted decisively and purchased a truck to start door-step collection of waste. “I don’t know how to read or write. But I am good at math because of the business I run. These are tough times as the prices of plastic and paper waste have fallen. The only way to survive is to increase the volume, which is what I expect will happen with door-step collection,” Annamma explained her strategy.

    High price to pay

    Nalini Shekhar of the NGO Hasirudala, who has been working with Annamma for the past four years, said that it is a challenge for people like her to become entrepreneurs, as the waste sector is not considered an industry by banks.

    “The rate of interest on the loan availed by Annamma is 18%. We are looking for some other institution that will charge a lower rate of interest,” she said.

    Annamma is worried about the cost of expansion and the need to hire more people. “We need six men to run the show. But we have employed only four with my husband and me doing the jobs of the other two to reduce costs,” she said.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by K.V. Aditya Bharadwaj / February 27th, 2017

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    Ayyappa Masagi has turned almost 26,000 hectares of dryland into wetland, rejuvenated thousands of ponds, lakes and borewells, and successfully executed rainwater harvesting projects for nearly 170 industries in and around Bengaluru. A look by M.A. Siraj

    “India gets enough rains to fulfill its needs — domestic, agricultural, industrial, commercial — provided water conservation efforts are taken on a war footing. Even with the utmost efficiency, we can conserve only 40% of water the rains brings to us annually. Another 50% will inevitably run off into the water bodies to enable navigation, fishing, boating, religious rituals and all other activities conceivable with water.”

    The statement inspires hope, given the reports of water scarcity from diverse areas. This comes from Ayyappa Masagi, who has come to be known as ‘Water Gandhi’ in villages skirting the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border. Masagi, an engineer by training, has turned almost 26,000 hectares of dryland into wetland, rejuvenated thousands of ponds, lakes and borewells and successfully executed rainwater harvesting projects for nearly 170 industries in and around Bengaluru.

    For nearly 15 years, Masagi has been leading a crusade aimed at making India a ‘water-efficient nation’. According to him, if all the rainwater that pours over Bengaluru (i.e., 827 sq. km. BBMP area with 100 cm annual rainfall) could be collected for a year, it could be sufficient for meeting the needs of the city and its people for three years. “Suppose we raise a boundary wall over the entire municipal area and allow no water to run off or percolate, the water level would go up to one metre in the obtaining large well,” he visualises.

    An unassuming man, Masagi says India is currently categorised under ‘water stressed’ countries with several areas being perpetually drought-prone. But the country has enough potential to emerge as a water-rich nation. “Currently 2 to 3% of rainwater percolates into the ground nationally. If we can harvest around 35% of the annual precipitation and reuse or recycle grey water from homes, we need not look for grandiose river-linking projects or billion-dollar irrigation schemes,” he claims.

    Water sufficiency

    Charity begins at home. And Masagi who worked for Larsen & Toubro for 26 years (he took VRS to realise his dream of making people ‘water-literate’), applied his ideas on his own 23 x 33 ft. house in Sahakarnagar in Amrutahalli suburbs of the city. The three-storeyed building that currently accommodates five families, survives on just a 68-feet borewell since 1986 when the house was constructed. Besides the borewell and harvested rainwater, he recycles grey water.


    Masagi’s techniques involve collecting, pre-filtering and filtering rainwater underground to recharge the subsoil natural springs. He first supervises the land and constructs ponds and filtration wells in keeping with the gradient. The ponds are laid with stones, gravel and sand and if necessary polypropylene sheet underneath to stop percolation. In order to minimise waste, he advises drip irrigation through a maze of tubes that take the water to the roots of the plants. He dug 32 soak pits (10ft. x 10ft. x 10ft.) and constructed 11 infiltration wells in his four-acre farm in Holavanahalli (in Koratagere taluk) in Tumakuru district, 82 km north of Bengaluru. This arrangement allows him to conserve enough water to draw 80,000 litres of the precious liquid everyday throughout the year whereby nearly 7,000 trees are irrigated through drip network and sprinklers.

    Masagi has honed his skills through practice and has perfected numbers. According to him 4,000 litres of water if collected over an acre (i.e., around 44,000 sq. ft. area) will fill it ankle-deep (i.e., 4 inches deep). So all that water he draws in a day can fill up a nearly two-acre farm with ankle-deep water.

    Island of greenery

    Move over 80 km east to another farm in Subbrayapet village in Hindupur taluk across the border from Karnataka. Masagi’s water conservation techniques have turned an 85-acre farm in the perennially drought-prone area into an island of greenery amid vast stretches of dry farms. The annual precipitation in the area which is part of Rayalaseema, is just around 35 cm. But four ponds and 10,000 pits dug by Masagi harvest nearly 18 to 20 crore litres of water annually. Masagi and his group of friends bought this land in 2014 which is located 40 km from Hindupur town. They are now raising 25,000 saplings into trees, of which 60% fall into the category of forestry (i.e., mahogany, Arjuna terminalia, rosewood, jamun etc) while the remaining are orchard trees. Looking at the massive effort at greening the drought-prone land, the Andhra Pradesh Government has offered him two solar-operated pumps of 5 horsepower. Besides the trees, the farm is being used for animal husbandry with dozens of cattle heads and sheep being reared on it. The ten labourers who work on the farm use a gobar gas plant for their cooking needs.

    Own expertise

    Ayyappa Masagi’s family hails from Nagaral village in Gadag district. He recalls his childhood days when his mother would rise at 3 a.m. to fetch a few pails of water from a well three km away. Raised in dire poverty, Masagi would see the roots of problem in lack of access to sustainable supplies of water and slowly grew aware of the ways to ensure stable supplies. His first appointment was at BEML in Bengaluru after he earned a diploma in mechanical engineering. Still later while working at Larsen & Toubro, he studied the problem closely and developed his own expertise to conserve, store and recycle water.

    Water literacy

    It was in 2003 that he plunged into water conservation headlong despite his family’s opposition. He formed the NGO Water Literacy Foundation in 2005 and took up programmes for educating farmers, industries and urban households. He has conducted 7,000 programmes in 13 States in 14 years. He was helped by the Deshpande Foundation in Hubballi to develop water resources in 18 villages. In 2009, he was conferred Jamnalal Bajaj National Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development. He helped several developers (Sobha, Mangalya Suryodaya, Mahaveer Zephyr etc), IT companies (Wipro, Tata Elexi, Tyco Electronics etc), apartments and educational institutions in implementing rainwater harvesting techniques. He has been honoured with titles like ‘Indian Water Doctor’, ‘Water Gandhi’ and ‘Doctor of Barren Borewells’ by various organisations.

    Masagi says the City today requires 130 crore litres of water a day but the BWSSB supplies just about 90 crore litres. The City could harvest 34 crore litres of rainwater falling on 42 km track of the Namma Metro itself.

    (Masagi can be reached at

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style> Homes and Gardens / February 03rd, 2017

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    Mysuru :

    M.K. Shankarguru of Madralli and M. Rachanna from Hosa Malangi, both from T. Narasipur taluk, have been selected for the prestigious ‘Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Recognition’ awarded by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV & FRA), New Delhi. The recognition comes as an encouragement to all the farmers involved in conservation and development of plant varieties.

    Shankarguru is recognised for developing his own paddy variety, NMS 2, which thrives under minimum management practices and is a high yielder whereas Rachanna has been conserving over 300 paddy varieties most of them being very rare indigenous varieties, with medicinal value.

    JSS Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Suttur had sent their nominations to PPV & FRA in 2014, the results of which have been announced this week. The farmers will be receiving the award from the Union Minister for Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ welfare, Radha Mohan Singh, on Dec. 21 in New Delhi. Each farmer will get a cash prize of rupees one lakh, a memento and a certificate.

    The recognition, sponsored by the ‘National Gene Fund’, is being given to farmers, farmer/ tribal communities annually by the PPV & FRA to encourage protection of indigenous land races and farmers seed sovereignty.

    source: / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / Dec 14th, 2016

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    Mangaluru :

    Where there’s a will there’s a way. Odduru Farm at Ganji Mutt in Bantwal Taluk, located nearly 25 km away from Mangaluru, is a classic example of this.


    A once barren land where one could only find laterite rocks is now home to lush greenery, all thanks to the sheer determination and perseverance of a progressive farmer Ulepadyguttu Rajesh Naik. When Bantwal taluk was declared a grey area owing to deficient water, Naik decided to do the unthinkable and turned his 120-acre arid land lush green through organic farming.


    A BSc graduate, Naik (58) had never hankered after a routine job. He had his interests deep-rooted in agriculture. His family had a large patch of land, but it was never cultivated as it was situated on a plate of laterite stone. The barren land and lack of water, however, failed to dry out his enthusiasm. He used the laterite plate for cutting out stones for construction, and soon water started oozing from the bottom of the plate. A water tank was thus formed. He has two such large tanks today that never go dry.
    The bigger challenge was to transform the barren land into thriving farm land, which took Rajesh to several places in search of models. But none impressed him. Finally, in 1986, he decided to go with his own model of a fully developed organic farm on a dry patch of 120 acres. “It has not been an easy journey. Organic fertilisers enrich soil slowly, but my patience and perseverance paid off finally,” says Rajesh.

    On his 120 acres of land, he now grows arecanut, coconut, banana, cashew, different types of vegetables, pepper and fruits among others by using organic manure. The farm has as many as 10,000 arecanut and 1,500 coconut trees. Two artificial lakes, 50-ft deep at the centre, provide water to the entire land. His land has yielded great results and products.

    Over 650 litres of milk are also produced at his farmland. The bio-gas slurry produced by over 180 cows, is used for plantation of coconut, arecanut, vegetable plants among others. He also generates electricity from bio-gas, which almost meets his requirement of power. Naik’s multi-farming activities can provide an idea or two to those, who always complain against less income by agriculture.

    “Small land holders must always opt for multi-crop plantation. Loss is inevitable in case of single-crop farming in times of erratic monsoons. With technological advancement and organic solutions, it is not difficult to earn profits,” said Naik.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Karnataka / by Ganesh Mavanji / Express News Service / November 27th, 2016

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    Ornamental garden is the dream of plant-loving urban dwellers. Plants, foliage and flowering of different hues in various combination can express the beauty of nature around the living area. It is not the size that matters as one can landscape even a small home ground in the same way as done for larger estates or public parks. When done in the best form it is the pride of the house.

    An ‘ornamental garden’ developed by a woman falls into this category. The owner, gardener and executor is none other than the winner of the first prize in the Annual Dasara Flower Show under ornamental garden category: Ms. Hashmath Fathima. It is an artistic outdoor garden developed around her little dwelling place in a plot of land in Kalyanagiri, all on her own. The garden has all the ingredients of a modern ornamental garden with display of choicest flowering and foliage plants in the form of annuals and perennials (herbs, shrubs, climbers, trees, ornamental grasses, bulbs etc.) embellished with various design elements.

    The special feature is most part of the garden is developed using containers of various size, shape and hues. The entrance gate opens up into a path leading to the garage, beautifully paved with lawn grass in the crevices which makes up for the absence of a lawn (due to lack of space). On entry into the garden you can notice the potted plants stacked up in multiple rows in various colour combination of foliage and flowers & height along side the wooden wall. The half wall of the verandah has been decked up with colourful overhanging Lantanas, besides the hanging pots at the entrance of the house.

    For embellishment valuable objects of artefacts in the form of figurines of various objects, birds nests etc., are placed at vantage points. The northern wall of the house is fully green, a breathing wall completely covered with creeping fig (Ficus repens). The perennial climbers (Allamanda, Quisqualis, Bougainvillea etc.) with their foothold on the northern edge ramble on the wooden barricade. The garlic vine (Mansoa alliacea) overarching the garage makes spectacular display with purple coloured blooms and attracts the onlookers. A small pond is also designed in the backyard with water lily (Nymphae sps) in it. In addition to being pleasant to look at, this ornamental garden is also enjoyable to use with a recreation area to sit and enjoy reading etc., in the form of a bench decorated with an arch covered with a climber in the front yard and an aviary with plenty of beautiful birds in the backyard.

    Another eye-catching addition is the bottle garden (hanging) created using soft drink bottles planted with variegated Alternantheras. This impressed me a lot. In general the display of plants is such that as soon as one enters one can experience the burst of flowers of all hues amidst the colourful foliage. Above all, with innumerable flowering and foliage plants (Acalypha, Althea rosea, Asparagus, Aglonema, Alternanthera, Anthuriums, Asters, Coleus, Catharanthus, Chrysanthemums, Cocks comb, Begonias, Cosmos, Calendulas, Chlorophytum, Duranta, Euphorbia milii, Gamphrena, Gazania, Gerberas, Day lily, Ferns, Marigolds, Pentas, Petunias, Zinnias etc., etc.) this little paradise looked like a “mini flower show.”

    Ms. Hashmath is into gardening for more than a decade and has won several first prizes in the past too. I understand that she herself carries out most of her gardening work and uses only organic manure. Most of her earnings are spent on maintaining the garden. A dress designer by profession, she has put her heart and soul in designing the beautiful and attractive garden as well! Furthermore, she has shown the ability and imagination of the gardener in her in the best form besides the woman power.

    Text & photographs by Dr. Mahadeswara Swamy, Scientist, Mob: 97429-91057, e-mail:

    source: / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / November 06th, 2016

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    Bengaluru  :

    Amid cries of protest over the steel flyover, which could sound the death knell for over 800 trees in the heart of Bengaluru, a ringing message to protect green spaces reverberates across the pages of the city’s past. Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, the German botanist who was largely responsible for turning Lalbagh into the wonder it is today, often cycled around the city with his oldest daughter, Hilda, their baskets leaden with plants to raise awareness on the importance of trees.



    As the city’s lung spaces shrink, Krumbeigel’s greatgranddaughter, Alyia PhelpsGardner, 55, is all set to resurrect her forbear’s legacy . In a bid to restore the dilapidated Krumbiegel Hall, Alyia too will cycle around Bengaluru. The cost of restoration comes up to £32,000, and Alyia is being helped in her endeavour by Intech Bangalore. The plan is to have the house restored in a traditional manner, with lathe and plaster.

    Pointing out that her greatgrandfather was described to her in heroic terms, Alyia said, “He was affectionately known as Krumbie, and his wife as Great Granny Krumbie.”

    Seated on the Lalbagh wall, Krumbiegel sipped his coffee along with a cigarette – a ritual in itself – while his family members relaxed in the garden. This will be Alyia’s first visit to the Garden City . Her tryst with Lalbagh too, is confined to pictures. “The hall, once restored, can be used as a media library for all horticultural students. He had a special love for Lalbagh. He also loved books. In this day and age, I would like to offer books and internet access. His work, and mode of thinking will come alive,” she said. She attributes the image of Krumbiegel that she carries around in her head to the many tales and anecdotes that her grandmother, Hilda Gustav’s daughter used to narrate. “One story that makes me giggle even to this day is of a tiger jumping through a window of their house in Vadodara, when the family was having a dinner party . Only Granny Krumbie saw it. She left the room, and it jumped out again.She didn’t say anything, since she did not wish to alarm anyone,” she said.

    Alyia recalled that Maharaja Wadiyar had intervened twice to prevent Krumbiegel from being sent back to Germany by the British.

    “He always wanted independence for India. One of his last planning assignments was Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb. One of his greatest wishes was to start a horticultural school, a dream not many were aware of,” she added.

    Alyia’s granddaughter, Sofia too shares her love for planting flowers and other planting.Alyia said that she is regaling her grandchildren with Krumbie’s any adventures in India.

    Krumbiegel Hall
    Previously a horticulture lecture hall, it was named Krumbiegel Hall to honour the German botanist. Built in accordance with the classical principles of Greek architecture, one of the distinctive features of the structure is the Gandaberunda – the two-headed mythological bird, which is believed to possess magical strength.

    The many years of neglect have rendered restoration both difficult and expensive. The lime and mortar that the British builders used cannot be replaced with regular cement or plaster of Paris.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City News> Bangalore / by Aditi Sequeira / TNN / October 27th, 2016

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    The Belgaum Rose Society was inaugurated here on Sunday to encourage, create and develop a love for roses and disseminate systematic knowledge about the flower to the people. It was inaugurated by M.R. Kulkarni, chairman, Karnataka Law Society.

    Suresh Patil, president of the society, said that the organisation would organise awareness and training programmes on the cultivation of rose. Growers would be trained in budding, pruning, fertigation, plant protection and disease control as per local climatic conditions. It would establish nurseries, gardens and trial grounds for rose plants and carry out scientific research on hybridisation and development of new varieties of rose plants.

    It has plans to organise national and international-level rose exhibitions; take up exchange programmes with sister societies; set up a library on roses for the benefit of its members; and organise seminars, discussions, conferences, demonstrations, refresher courses, and lectures.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Belgavi – October 18th, 2016

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    Thondebhavi (Chikkaballapur District) :

    The last time Thondebhavi came under the spotlight was almost a year ago when a cloud of ash from a nearby cement plant enveloped it. Now, this nondescript village is grabbing headlines for becoming the first in the country to have a self-repairing road.

    Thondebhavi, 65km from Bengaluru and with a population of about 1,200 people, has a 700-metre road with a crack healing capability. This road is the brainchild of Prof Nemkumar Banthia of the civil engineering department at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

    This will be a game-changer in road-building, especially in a country where roads are dotted with cracks and potholes. M Suresh of the National Institute of Engineering-Mysuru, who coordinated with Thondebhavi village authorities and University of British Columbia, said: “This road has been built with high strength concrete supplemented with fibres which have a hydrophilic nano-coating. This coating absorbs water. Since most road cracks develop because of unhydrated cement, the hydrophilic coating produces silicates that closes the cracks.”

    The lifespan of these roads is 15-20 years. The road, about 100 mm thick and comparatively less than the usual cement road, would go a long way in reducing road-laying cost. Since fly ash is used for these roads, the carbon output is low.

    The 700-metre stretch, which connects the village with the road to nearby Gauribidanur town, has enthused residents. Kantharaj, a resident and also president of Kolar Chikkaballapur Districts Co-operative Milk Union Ltd (KOMUL), said: “Earlier, people used to have a tough time on the slushy road. This stretch has come as a boon to villagers and they can transport their agricultural commodities to various places without any hassles.”

    Jyothi Reddy, president, Thondebhavi gram panchayat, said the road has been of great help to people of the village. She said she’ll convince nearby cement factory authorities to take up many more roads in the village panchayat. Aswathachar, manager, Pragathi Krishna Gramina Bank, Thondebavi branch said the quality and finish of the road is fine and it’s expected to last longer compared to the normal cement one.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City News> Bangalore / TNN / October 18th, 2016

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    by Ambika Nagaraj

    Tranquil homes with dream gardens as focal points with trails of green and bursts of colour graciously welcoming you are instant charms your eyes would love to feast on, isn’t it? There is perhaps no view more delightful than facing such lush green artistry.

    Today, we introduce you to people who are into decorating the green space at their beautiful homes in city for not just one or two but for over years and decades with the same spirit and fervour which deserves all the admiration. While many of them have been constantly taking part in the Dasara Best Home Garden contest since years and consecutively winning prizes for their efforts, a few others have been into it the same way too, irrespective of their participation in the competition that the Department of Horticulture organises as part of the festival each year.

    Read out to know how their passion has been driving them towards turning that dream space at home into a magical yard …

    Shyamala Prasanna 


    Can you imagine being rewarded for maintaining a beautiful garden at home for not five or ten but a whopping 21 consecutive years? Yes, this lady has done it. Such is her dedication that weather she will be in town during the festival or has plans to travel elsewhere, she ensures the green space at her home is decorated well within the stipulated time with such perseverance.

    Shyamala Prasanna, a resident of Lakshmipuram has a beautiful and specious garden at home that’s all of beautiful plants, shrubs, herbs, bonsais and more, each one unique from the other. Though according to Shyamala this green space always remains neat, it is specially decked up during the Dasara festival each year. “I started participating in this contest conducted as part of the Dasara festival about 21 years ago,” gushes Shyamala in excitement, “the Department of Horticulture conducts many contests as part of Dasara each year and this one has been my choice ever since it first started as I love plants. I have decorated the garden with different themes, adding new plants of new verities decked up with colourful toys and dolls every time.”

    In Shyamala’s garden, one can find plants of over a hundred different verities, which include artistically made bonsais, vibrant flowering plants, cacti, ornamental plants, different types of foliages, and a well maintained lawn. “Apart from the plants, I have some permanent ornamental items which add a lot of weight to my green space. The main among those are the permanently set up waterfall and the swing which almost all my visitors love. And then comes my bonsai collection. I have made bonsai like the ages old Christmas and Banyan trees, fruit bearing trees such as those of sapota, orange, lemon and cherry, many flower bearing trees such as gulmohar and bougainvillea to name a few, which look very pretty and are very special to me,” she adds.

    And during Dasara each year, Shyamala decorates her garden with different themes using dolls and idols, which add an extra zing to her special space at home. “I have a set of dolls that I arrange and rearrange differently with a unique theme every Dasara. This year, the specialities are the Rajasthani desert, the temples of South India, China Town, ‘Winter Wonderland’ around my Christmas tree bonsai, a section representing Peru around my bonsais, an area resembling the zoo with toys of animals like those present in the Mysore Zoo, the Dasara theme based dolls, the colourful terracotta dolls like frogs and swans around the water based plants to name a few” she explains. “And a verity of bonsai called Penjing is where we create decorative landscapes upon a tray. This year I have done the same on a tray hand made by me that I learnt during a workshop which adds extra value.” “And I place several toys, dolls, colourful stones and decorative items all over the garden accordingly”, he adds. And she has a special collection of decorative items that she carefully preserves and uses only during Dasara to decorate the garden.

    What’s more, she also has a section dedicated to kitchen gardening where she grows a few plants that turn out to be useful for her in cooking.

    Do we even need to be astonished that she has been constantly rewarded for her dedication towards her passion?


    Suma Krishna 


    Suma is one enterprising lady in Mysuru for whom her garden is her soul. So the moment you pass by the front yard of the green space at her home you will feel truly welcomed. And the same has been winning her the first place in the big home garden category from the past 27 years constantly and her efforts prove that she deserves it every bit.

    Suma Krishna is a resident of Kuvempunagar who has been gardening at home since almost 30 years now. “Wherever I go, especially when on trips and tours, all that keeps constantly running in my mind is nothing but my garden and dolls that I can purchase and decorate” she grins, humbly showing off the collection of plants and hand-picked dolls from places across the globe.

    “While garden decoration has been my hobby, I began taking part in the Dasara contest ever since it was started and have been winning the rolling shield each time,” she explains, She has decorated her garden with extreme vibrancy choosing every plant and using every bit of the decorative piece carefully. Having grown everything ranging from fruits to vegetables and bonsai to a wide variety of flowering and decorative plants, the speciality of her garden lies in the fact that she prepares her beautiful garden for the contest all by herself with least help from her gardener.

    “I start preparations for my garden about four months before the contest begins and sow seeds, planning things according to the time they take for cultivation, as each plant takes its own time to grow rightly by the time of the contest,” says Suma.

    “While the garden is well-maintained all through the year, I add decorative trinkets, toys and dolls during Dasara. That apart, I also reuse the broken pots, dry and dead wooden trunks and any unused product that can be recycled and used in my garden by painting or curing them and reusing them to plant saplings, make bonsai or simply decorate them to suit my garden,” she explains, showcasing a few examples for her work. “My garden looks more vibrant throughout Dasara,” she says, even as she walks past another corner of the yard and opens the doors to showcase her kitchen garden from where she gets to pluck for home, things like coriander, pudina, a few variety of vegetables, fruits and more.

    Lastly, the trail ends with that space of her home which is full of tall trees where parrots, sparrows and many varieties of colourful birds arrive to either take shelter or and rest a while before they fly away to relish the delicious figs hanging from the tall fig tree, that the family can blissfully watch through the glass panes from the dining area within, admiring the beauty of nature in leisure.


    Prabha Subramanya 


    Do you feel a small yard means you can’t have the garden like you want at home? But Prabha can prove you wrong. As a majority of the ground space at her home has been used up for construction, the creative lady has decided to deck up the terrace atop the building, making it the most beautiful part of her gorgeous home.

    With this, she has not just maximised the space for home gardening but has also been winning a prize under the terrace garden category consecutively since the last eight years now.

    Prabha Subramanya is another zealous gardener residing in Vijayanagar who is an avid Bonsai aficionado. She first began bonsai gardening at home about 20 years ago, to learn which, she attended classes back then. And the lady’s passion is such that, every bit of the bright terrace at her home is now a feast to one’s eyes, filled up with over 80 varieties of plants, each one made to look unique and livelier than the other by her.

    “It’s a live art like no other art on earth so no wonder any one would find it as attractive,” says Prabha, “For, though preparing a bonsai is a task full of difficult procedures, we tend to magically indulge in doing everything associated with it from pruning, re-potting, trimming, cleaning and fertilising the plants with happiness. And, especially with flowers and fruits grown upon them, they are the prettiest things any one would ever see.”

    Prabha has been winning a prize under the Terrace Garden category since the last seven years and that’s when she actually first began participating in the event. “Though I attended classes 20 years ago, I wasn’t too sure about taking part in the Dasara contest as I didn’t have plants worth a display those days. It is only since the last eight years that I have had a good collection of different varieties and since then, I have been taking part in the contest and winning the first place. However, as my gardener helps me equally in the maintenance, I always send him to collect the prize,” the modest lady says.

    The bonsai types Prabha has made include: Maple, Kengai (cascade bonsai), Hokidachi (broom style), Han-kengai (semi cascade), Sokan (double trunk style), Kabudachi (multi trunk style), bonsai landscape and many more.

    “It is an art that requires constant attention and dedication. But once we get involved, it is an ongoing process. We keep coming up with the ideas of making new varieties. I need to spend a minimum of one hour on my terrace each day. And I start my focus on the garden about four months before the contest begins. The live art is such a passion that it keeps me going,” she asserts.


    Padmakumar  & Rohini 


    Dr. P.D. Padmakumar, a resident of the city and ardent gardening connoisseur didn’t participate in the Dasara contest this season. He was on a tour to the US during the time which came as a hindrance for participation he says. But for the veteran enthusiast, maintenance and decoration of his garden doesn’t mean special only during the festival. “My garden is well taken care of, though I do not participate in the contest. However, I have taken part for the last 11 years and won prizes continuously, which is a very special feeling,” says he.

    The retired Joint Director, Department of Animal Husbandry, who spends a lot of time in decking up the green space at home says it has been passion not just for him for his wife Rohini Padmakumar too. “We plant, decorate and look after our garden together as it’s not just mine but my wife’s passion too,” the Veterinarian explains.

    And ask him as to how such a busy man developed an interest in gardening and pat comes the reply “It wasn’t a sudden desire to indulge in gardening. I always loved it and during my services I got to travel and stay in many different places but the homes we stayed in lacked sufficient space for gardening though we would try to decorate as much as we could. Hence, once we came to own house here where we have sufficient space for gardening, we began planting all that we like.”

    The chief focus of the doctor’s house is on kitchen gardening. “It’s a great feeling when we get to grow our veggies, pluck them fresh and cook for food. We have so many varieties fresh greens and vegetables all organically grown,” he says adding “we have over 30 varieties of plants and the kitchen section includes plants like mint, amruthaballi, doddpatre, curry leaves, aloe Vera, beetle, tulasi, pumpkin and papaya to name just a few.”

    Such is their love for the lively lush greenery at home that the couple even produce vermi compost in their garden space to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposed vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast to make an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertiliser for the plants in their garden.

    Now who wouldn’t want to evade in a yard so full of lushness so enchanting?


    source: / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / October 08th, 2016

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