Editor's Pick

Jeeth Roche takes the lead in transforming city into greener Mangaluru

Pearl D'Souza
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru

Mangaluru, Sep 11: A backhoe clears debris from the soil as workers simultaneously place saplings into the softened earth. Jeeth instructs the JCB operator the location of the next sapling pit. With his arms wide open, walking a calculated length, he measures the space required between saplings before the backhoe scoops out another bucket of soil. It's Jeeth's 13th year of planting. Back in 2009, in an interview with Jeeth, daijiworld brought to fore the quiet restorer of the city's green canopy. Eight years later, we find out how things have been and whether the city is moving on the trajectory he expects.

Plastic cups, gunny bags, broken tiles and toilet pots and large chunks of cement get uprooted from the all-encompassing soil along the highway from KPT to Padua school, as Jeeth in a conversation with daijiworld, explains the development of his initiative.

"Things have improved, but not at the pace I expected. This is my fourth cleaning of the same stretch (KPT to Padua). Can you imagine cleaning the same place four times? Things need to work at a faster pace, or they're going to get very bad.

"You should have seen the debris yesterday, from cotton waste, pads, to bags. Next year on, I will not touch the stretch," said Jeeth. Jeeth has been re-cleaning the stretch for the last three years. Sadly, debris gets dumped on saplings each year and kills them. The cost of maintenance remains high, and Jeeth disappointed, tending to the same area for a fourth year in a row.

This year, don't be surprised if you see ribbons strung from tree to tree . "It's put there so that nobody dumps garbage and debris," said Jeeth.

Jeeth's planting drive which coincides with the monsoon, started on June 1 this year. He has planted 2800 saplings. "We've planted fewer saplings this year. I have been slogging with the KPT Nanthoor stretch for about 8 days. I had another few schools where I was to plant, but I wanted to finish this first. This is a gateway to Mangaluru," he said. Jeeth has planted 1,500 saplings in Pana University and 1,200 saplings on the roadside from Adyapadi to Kolambe, among other places.

His work over the years include greenification of 13 cemetries, mostly in Nandigudda, and several schools, and work on popular stretches including airport road, KPT girls college stretch, Vikas College stretch with Badam trees, KPT to Sarbatkatte before the concreting, and Valencia to Nandigudda circle.

Branching Out

Jeeth started planting trees in 2004. "I anyway come from an agricultural background. It was nice to see the trees grow. Trees are like babies. When you see them growing, why not one more. We started with a small number of 50, and gradually increased. For the first three to four years I used to buy plants. Later, after the first article came on daijiworld, the forest department came to know of it. They recognised me and started giving them for free. The former ranger Clifford Lobo was the first to do it. The present ranger Sridhar, is another gem of a person. He delivers the plants to the site.

"A team of 15 people from Zumba Fitness near Nanthoor, which my brother Suman Roche runs, comes during the weekend. One Sunday, while we were planting, a reporter saw us, and clicked some photos and wrote something about 'weekend planting'. Now, people come on a regular basis on weekends," he said.

Jeeth, who uses social media to create awareness and encourage people to come and join him, says there is still a dearth of volunteers. "It's not that people are not interested. They just do not have opportunities. There are many interested but just do not know how and where to start. There is simple work to be done like shifting of saplings, tearing of bags, which everyone can do," Jeeth said.

"According to scientists, 9 billion trees are cut every year. And approximately 3-4 billion are planted. So we are still in the destruction mode. We losing at least 4 billion every year. How do we compensate that? Recently I read a report that Western Ghats water is polluted. There is no more fresh stream water.

People know about global warming, hole in the ozone layer, lots of species disappearing, rivers drying up, air and water being polluted, increased number of vehicles and extended roads. They know more trees are needed. There is awareness. Yet they do nothing about it. Yet, there are few people working towards the environment. But more has to be done. Now, you need to just come out and plant," he said.

The Planting

Jeeth's 3-month annual plating drive coincides with the monsoon. Each year, a large number of saplings are planted and even more are taken care of .

"So far, we've planted Kakke (Cassia fistula) , Hole Dasavala (Pride of India), Avalanda, Basavana Pada, Ashvagandha, Banyans... I can give you 40 different names," said Jeeth, when asked about the variety he plants.

"We don't plant at random. It is about beautification and planting, both, so the stretch actually looks nice. I select the place, and then plan on what to plant. I plant fruitbearing trees like jack, wildjack, punarpuli, mangoes, jamuns in the village. But here it's mostly the flowering variety. I keep a regular 3 to 4 meters between the trees and plant the flowering one in the front row," he said.

Green Alternative

While there have been many protesting against the chopping of trees, Jeeth gets to the site and works on restoring the green cover.

"I can't stop them from chopping. Chopping is not my business. Planting is. Give me some place and I will start planting. There are many coming in for a strike. I am not saying you just shouldn't protest. You should. But you must also find an alternative.

"Cutting of the tree should be the last option. And if you really plan it well, you can avoid cutting trees. But now it looks like cutting trees is the first option, then putting the concrete, and then the drain. There is no place for trees. Development should happen but it must be scientific," he said.

"Individual houses these days have big lawns and a garden. But no trees," he said.

Vision Green Mangaluru

Like everyone, Jeeth too has a vision for Mangaluru that is a smart city in the making.

"I want Mangaluru to be the greenest city in India in the next five years. To be very frank, that's my vision. Before the city becomes smart I want it to be green. If I get some more support, another 5 Jeeths, it can happen. Another 5 years I'm sure it will. The average number of plants I am planting and few other organisations are, the forest department support, and with some more cooperation from the corportaion, we can definitely do it. We can plant up to 300 saplings, in a one km stretch, 600 saplings easily if planted on both sides.

"It is slightly disappointing we have a place for 'roadu and thodu' but have no plants. Smart city does not mean a concrete jungle. It means smart people. And lots of greenery. There was a movement called Quit India movement which was the need of the hour. Now we need a movement called 'Green India'.

"The corporation is doing a great job about the waste. But segregation is a concern and must be made compulsory. Otherwise, we only make the landfill bigger. In spite of the announcement on the municipality vehicle, nobody listens but come out with their garbage bags. There should be a penalty for non-segregation. The dumping area is hell on earth. Every year the landfill catches fire. The smoke adds to the problem. One can find batteries and other hazardous materials. It's already late, to be frank.

"If rainwater harvesting, segregation of waste, and solar power for every house like in some countries are in place, you can find some changes. Otherwise, you simply have to keep writing, and I, have to keep talking," said Jeeth.

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Comment on this article

  • Robert, Mangalore

    Tue, Nov 14 2017

    Jeeth kindly provide me ur number. Wish to join ur social work i cnvinient tim

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Bengaluru/Katapadi

    Fri, Oct 6 2017

    Great idea indeed. All the best and others too emulate his social concern.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Amitha, Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 14 2017

    I appreciate your great work. Thank you.

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Faye Mathias, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 27 2017


    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mohit, Mangalore

    Tue, Sep 12 2017

    God Bless you Jeeth for creating better living environment for our future generation. Great work.

    We all should be start doing planting of plants in our neighborhood and make Mangalore a Greener Mangalore. Forget about MCC's, MLA's, MP's. They are busy with their own agenda's. If we & our future generations want to live in healthy environment, we citizens should start taking initiative to do our part.

    Jai Hind. Salute to you Jeeth.

    DisAgree Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vijay DSouza, Mangalore

    Tue, Sep 12 2017

    Great Initiative and a Great Vision Jeeth ! Keep up the excellent work that you and the team is doing ! I bet , This article has touched every reader and reminds us of our responsibility of preserving the nature in every little way we can ,starting right from our home . Thank you Jeeth and Team !

    DisAgree Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • SMR, Karkala

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    I appreciate Ms Jeeth Roche efforts for caring for the environment. I had similar initiative by young Delhi residence planting Mango seedling.

    I request her to choose the indigenous plants of flowering and fruit bearing trees to support the surrounding life system.

    Jai hind

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Althaf, Mangalaore/Muscat

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Great work..........Vanamahotsava should be done in all areas
    Green is beautiful

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • s p dsouza, mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Kindly share Mr.Jeeth's address and mobile number . Excellent work needs support from public .

    DisAgree Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Tony, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    What has Jeeth done to keep these trees from being chopped down for expansion of the highway. Does he have any documentation to this effect. If he does not, then very soon his efforts may get erased by this callous government authorities. I remember trees that were planted couple of decades ago are no more. So please be advised and study the area keeping in mind the next 2-3 decades.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Chidanand Udyawar, Kulshekar, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Mr. Jeeth is a true gift to the city of Mangalore. On our request, he managed to plant 30 saplings in our apartment a year ago. Now, they have grown into healthy plants, all thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Jeeth. He has planted more than 90,000 saplings from the last 14 years. May God keep him and all his plants healthy and shower His blessings on Mangalore...THANK YOU JEETH

    DisAgree Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • J.F.D SOUZA, Attavar, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    What Forest Department and other organisations have not done our Roche has done it. hats off to you Jeeth roche. But who is maintaing the seedlings planted? Look after them properly with the help of others.

    DisAgree Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • sunil, karkala/Dubai

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Appreciate your work Mr. Jeeth & team

    DisAgree Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sranley, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Congratulations Jeet, a noble gesture.

    Thanks and all the very best.

    DisAgree Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • Alwyn Crasta, Mangaluru/Bengaluru

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Jeeth Roche's love of nature and commitment to saving our environment, needs our appreciation and full support. Hope his selfless example will be followed by more and more nature lovers and concerned citizens.

    Hope the MCC of 'Smart City Mangaluru' recognizes his efforts and suitably rewards & honors him. May Almighty bless him & his team.

    DisAgree Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • AnoNymouS, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    A really good deed by Jeeth and his army of green volunteers. We have so much rain in Mangalore (Which is unfortunately reducing due to global warming and massacre of trees. These trees are living beings just like us and they live in-spite of us cutting them and abusing them. Just because we don't see their blood or look into their eyes when we cut them, we don't feel guilty. Mother Nature is forgiving only to a certain extent. Then God help us. Jeeth understands this and so do a few other percentage of people. They are not doing it for the ungrateful, but for the ones who deserve this... Their children and their children's children, and the children of the ungrateful who have not committed any crime yet. Please volunteer to water at least one plant/tree which is on the street you live to start the ball rolling. Empty your water bottle on a tree when you come back home from work/school. Every drop helps. ADOPT A TREE AND THE SPACE AROUND IT. Link that tree to your FB page so that they know its taken care of. We cant wait for the government to do things for us. They are busy accumulating wealth and destroying nature and killing people who practice free speech. Bin the garbage in that spot. Doesn't matter who put it there. Its your space. Our space. Make Mangalore green and clean. I am doing my bit around where I live. Watering the trees, putting out water in summer for the birds..little deeds.

    DisAgree Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse

  • Satya, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Jeeth tum jiyo hazaro saal just like the trees.
    Great job.

    DisAgree Agree [24] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dinesh, Udupi

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Indeed a good and commendable work towards environment. Keep going.. People will recognize you like Saalu Marada Thimmakka who contributed to the environment .

    DisAgree Agree [33] Reply Report Abuse

  • S.M. Nawaz Kukkikatte, Dubai

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Great initiated by Jeeth Roche
    Truly you deserve the honor
    God Bless you Always...

    DisAgree [1] Agree [38] Reply Report Abuse

  • SB, Mlore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Salute this man and for his cause. Hope Govt ,MCC recognize s him and encourage him so that more awareness can be created.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [35] Reply Report Abuse

  • Thyampanna, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Thank you Mr. Jeeth Roche.

    DisAgree Agree [34] Reply Report Abuse

  • clement Monteiro, Bantwal/Afghanistan

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    I salute this great Mr. Jeeth Roche ... Good job Sir .Well Done , We Proud to your work and dedication ... Best Luck U Future

    DisAgree Agree [33] Reply Report Abuse

  • Francis Saldanha, Bahrain

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    There are certainly many benefits to be reaped from outdoor greenery environment especially being close to nature as well. Hats off to Jeeth Roche for the initiative.

    DisAgree Agree [32] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rajesh M, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Very good job.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [34] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Hats off to Jeeth. I do understand the problem created by mindless garbage dumping. Last month some one dumped huge pile of garbage into the compound of my house in Udupi village at night. Most caterers dump the waste into river instead of creating garbage well and incinerating with clay for manure. Several people residing near river or canals vent their drainage. It is painful when I am practicing to small extent what Jeeth is doing!
    I have seen highway authorities are planting trees on road divider. Great job! I have hardly seen any drip irrigation to keep these plants alive. Most of these plants perish during summer. These trees are unattended, I do not think surviving trees are trimmed to maintain beauty! What a pity.....high time we citizens devout couple of hours in a week towards the cause what Jeeth is doing.

    DisAgree Agree [34] Reply Report Abuse

  • Utsav, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Appreciate your hard work Sir. Thank you

    DisAgree Agree [37] Reply Report Abuse

  • Heri Fernandes, Mangalore /UK

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Well done Jeeth.. Proud of your work and dedication.... We need greener Mangalore along side being smarter Mangalore... Your name means to win and surely you will win in your commitment towards a greener Mangalore.. Hope to join hands with you in future..

    DisAgree Agree [38] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vishal, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    I salute this great man for his initiative to plant trees. The least we can do from our side is to plant at least one or two saplings near our house or at least tend to those trees that need help. Many a time I have observed that we go in search of trees which provide shade to park our vehicles but when the same tree needs some water, we turn a blind eye to that. How ungrateful are we!! Mr. Jeeth has shown us the way. Let us do our bit to turn our world green. That is the need of the hour and not strikes, rallies and disturbances to disturb peace among people.

    DisAgree Agree [40] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jaimini P.B., Manipal,Sharjah

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    One day...People will call him " Saalu Marada Jeeth" .Divine Work..God Bless..Well Done Sir.. Please accept my Salute...

    DisAgree Agree [42] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Bengaluru/Katapadi

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Great reformation and hope all will join hands in this noble effort.All the best

    DisAgree Agree [35] Reply Report Abuse

  • DENZIL, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    Thank you so much....

    DisAgree Agree [36] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jamal, Mangalore/UAE

    Mon, Sep 11 2017

    God bless you Jeeth. Hope people of the locality at least respect this noble idea and help for success, which in return will benefit them.

    DisAgree Agree [39] Reply Report Abuse

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