Sri Sakthi Amma’s environmental programs are borne out of Amma’s great love for nature. The programs reflect a concerted effort to counteract global warming by initiating massive tree-planting projects, as well as addressing waste management, recycling and environmental education amongst school children.
At the Green Sakthi Tree Nursery, indigenous trees are grown from seed and up to 100 000 saplings are donated locally each year. The nursery employs 25 men and women from neighbouring villages.
These vast tree-planting projects prevent soil erosion, create shade, provide homes for animals, improve the air quality, enhance bio-diversity and provide employment for local people. Since the trees have been planted, a greater variety of birds now inhabit the area. A drop in temperature during the summer months is also experienced.
In 2000, Sri Sakthi Amma began the first Green Sakthi Initiative – a mass afforestation in the sacred Kailash Giri Hills behind Sri Narayani Peedam. In partnership with the State ForestryDepartment, 100 000 trees were planted annually, reaching 700 000 trees over a period of seven years. All the saplings were raised from seeds in the Green Sakthi Tree Nursery.
The Green Belt (also known as Sakthi Point) refers to 30 acres of land adjacent to Sripuram. Once arid land, this area has been reforested, and is now transformed into a lush environment for future generations.
Green Sakthi Tree Donation Program donates over 100 000 saplings every year to local schools, hospitals, colleges, orphanages, government departments and organisations that wish to plant trees in their vicinity.
Nurtured in the Green Sakthi Nursery, the saplings are ready for donation once they reach five feet in height.
Green Sakthi Club educates school children on the importance of taking care of the environment. Lessons embrace a hands-on approach and by instilling the importance of picking up litter, recycling and tree- planting, inculcate civic values and a sense of ownership and pride as well. The overarching message is that the environment is each and everyone’s responsibility.
EXNORA Zero Waste Management Program was established in 1997, in conjunction with the environmental organisation from Chennai of the same name. The project uses the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ principle, with each item segregated by hand, and all biodegradable waste turned into compost. Paper, glass and cardboard are recycled, plastic bags are washed, dried and sold for recycling.
Today, EXNORA (EXcellent NOvel and RAdical ideas) is a completely self-sustaining unit; collecting more than two tons of waste a day, and employing over two hundred local workers. Their jobs are regularly rotated so that more skills are constantly being developed. This program serves as a model for other rural communities to adopt.
In the first phase, biodegradable waste is mixed with cow dung and urine – neutralising the odour – and sits under the hot sun for three months. It is then moved into the vermi-composting shed, where worms bred on site break down the compost for another three months. Finally, the compost is sifted and packed into bags. This compost, known as ‘black gold’, is sold at the temple and used in the campus gardens, afforestation areas and tree nursery.