More work is being done to care for Arunachala. Recently we have seen hundreds, perhaps more than one thousand, holes dug to plant trees around the base of Arunachala. This is being done in areas that have not previously been planted by the various reforestation efforts – between Leopard Rock and Kattu Siva Tank, and on the north side of the Holy Hill, after the Northside Basin.
Holes are being dug now. I guess that the actual planting will be done later this year, during the time of the Northeast Monsoon, when there is plenty of water for the trees to start growing.
We are not sure what group is going this, but from the extensive nature of the planting, the different form of the holes (square rather than circular), and the new water-retaining dam that was constructed at the same time, I am pretty sure that it was the Forestry Department that is having the work done. If so, this is the first of such work I know about that they have done around Arunachala, at least since we have been here. The reforestation effort on and around Arunachala has been going on for twenty years now. It is good that the government group responsible for Arunachala is finally taking part in the effort.
Here is a map that shows the approximate area. The new planting areas are shown in green. Note that the planting area near Kattu Siva Tank might be larger, since the work was going on when we observed it. As you can see, the planting area is pretty extensive.
Here are a few photos of the work.
After you pass by the Northside Basin, you start to notice mounds of dirt where holes have been dug.
Now the Inner Path goes over a berm that makes a new water-retaining tank, to slow the water coming off Arunachala so that more of it goes back into the underground water supply. In past years, wells dug near Arunachala would find water at ten or twenty feet. Now the water table is at 200 or 300 feet.
Here is the new water-retaining tank, dry for now. It will only have water in it during the rainy seasons, and will dry out in between them.
Holes marked by piles of dirt in the nice green grass.
Looking east on the Inner Path, holes marked by red dirt between the path and the hill. Around the red mountain, Arunachala, much of the dirt is also red.
Holes to the horizon.
Looking north from the Inner Path.
Notice how it looks like the holes are in neat rows. This is another sign that the Forestry Department is doing the work. The reforestation groups plant more naturally. Since it seems to be the Forestry Department, I have some concern about what kind of trees they will plant. Will they plant a variety of trees that occur naturally here, or just plant one kind? It would not surprise me if it turns out to be just one kind of tree. I have heard that this is they way the Forest Department people think.
You can see the square-shaped hole in the photo below.
And more holes.
This is a big effort that is being done. The questions I have are what kind of trees are going to be planted? Also, what will be the survival rate of the plantings? In many of the reforestation plantings I have seen that only 10% to 20% seem to survive. Some groups get a better rate, but they start with deeper holes, bigger saplings, and add mulch to the holes after planting to slow down the drying of the soil.
I am glad to see the work. I hope it has good results. To me, this kind of planting around Arunachala is like the offering of flowers during pooja.