Tarumitra, meaning“Friends of Trees” in Hindi and Sanskrit, is a student movement to protect and promote a healthy environment on Earth. Started by students in Patna, India in 1988, the movement has spread into hundreds of high schools and colleges all over India. It has over 2,50,000 members in over 2000 high schools and colleges. Tarumitra has also had several full time volunteers from India and abroad.
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Back in 1988 when very few people discussed environmental problems on a serious note, high schools students from several schools came together under the banner of Leadership Training for Service (LTS), a students’ leadership programme. A Jesuit Fr. Robert Athickal addressed them on the growing menace of the ecological crisis. Tarumitra meaning “Friends of Trees.” The group organised a few programmes in the same year and Fr. Robert Athickal guided the students through a period of groping and soul searching.
Tarumitra students have taken out massive rallies, organized protest demonstrations, resisted the felling of trees and forests, built roadside gardens, raised rare trees in genetic nurseries, gone on long nature-treks, cleaned up garbage dumps, “taxed” people who spread garbage, organized rallies for protecting migratory birds, campaigned for proper repair of roads for reducing vehicular pollution, organized door-to-door contact campaigns and are on a constant crusade to protect bio-diversity.
Early this year when the Principal Sr. Ishpriya came back from the Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Patna, she brought along an intense desire to convert the two acre plot of the convent land into Organic agriculture. She saw the way students in Bihar led by Ms Margaret Molomoo were completing a successful change over into Organic Farming at Tarumitra. Sr. Ishpriya rushed home to Ramganj Mandi in Kota and presented to the school her dream of Organic farming.
Two students from University Belgium Ghent who are students of Environmental management joined Tarumitra for a three month Internship in March 2012. Jens and Willem identified the issues of Garbage, especially the non-biodegradable plastics as the main garbage problem of Patna, the city with a minimum of three milllion people. Both moved around and met students, their teachers and parents, bureaucrats and politicians, law enforcement police personnel and the people on the streets. Both of them wanted their research to be action-oriented and therefore the attempt was as to move the garbage! They collected non-degradable materials and worked on them to convert them into re-cycled, reusable resources.
Over a hundred student representatives from Mount Carmel, BPS, Hartmann, Gyan Jyothi and Gyan Deep met at the Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Digha to celebrate the World Earth Day. They participated in it by enacting the traditional Marriage of a Well to a Tree. Shweta Marandi , a Tarumitra student leader from Mount Carmel, who compered the program said that our ancestors knew the delicate interdependence of the trees and water tables. They solemnized this symbiotic relationship of trees and water by organizing their wedding at every Hindu marriage where the priest presided over the marriage of the well to a tree along with the nuptials of the boy and the girl. “Every human marriage is protected by the greater wedding of the trees to the wells!” said Sanskriti Chauhan, another student.