One fine sunny morning hundreds of school students turned up at the historic Gandhi Maidan in the heart of Bihar’s capital city, Patna. They removed all the hoardings that were fixed onto the trees. Then they pulled out the 5-6 inch deep nails that had been hammered into the 200 odd trees. The next morning, all the local newspapers carried the story on the first page with photos of the same.
These students call themselves the Tarumitras, i.e., the ‘Friends of Trees’, in Hindi and Sanskrit. To protect and promote a healthy environment, Jesuit priest, Fr Robert Athickal, started the student movement at Patna’s St Xavier’s School in 1988. Students from nearby schools were roped in to join the movement under the leadership of ninth grader, Anindo Banerjee, of Loyola High School, Patna.
Today, the movement has nearly 2,00,000 school and college students in more than 1,000 high schools and colleges in many parts of India.