Terrific trees

Miguel Braganza

The rain trees or the Albizia saman give the Dayanand Bandodkar road and the Dr Jack Sequeira road shade and coolness during summer. The trees on DB Road were planted in the 1950s, when it was the bank of the river Mandovi and the beyond was not yet reclaimed. The trees on the Dr Sequeira road date back to the early 1990s and the road itself is not much older. The tree planting there was sponsored by the State Bank of India and their maintenance was personally supervised by Pandurang G Kakodkar or ‘PG’, the only Goan to become Chairman of SBI till 2007. I was privileged to be associated with it because of him. Roadside trees matter to road users – both vehicular and pedestrian.

An extensive tree survey of trees in the city of Panaji was conducted throughout May and June 2015, and reconciled by another survey in May and June 2016 with the support of Sanjit Rodrigues, the commissioner of CCP then and again now. The tree survey team comprised of five Botany students with knowledge of plant taxonomy who worked under the guidance of Cassie Rodrigues, PhD in Botany and later the founding principal of the Don Bosco College of Agriculture. The survey found a total of 125 different plant species in different areas of Panaji city surveyed along the roads and in gardens and parks. There are more species within the private compounds, especially fruit trees.

The Nisarg Nature Club led by Sandip Azrencar, my fellow alumnus at St Britto High School has been raising plants in large bags and planting them on roadsides beginning in Mapusa in 1993. The St Xavier’s College, the Hindu Crematorium, the Mapusa and Tivim Industrial Estates, the Saraswat College and DMC have trees that were raised in a nursery adjacent to the principal’s office at the P Valawalkar Higher Secondary School, Khorlim, when Pandurang Nadkarni was the principal there and Bhaskar Nayak was principal of the Saraswat College. Recently, Sandip and I joined the CCP for a tree planting programme coordinated by the Rotary Club of Miramar led by Kamlesh Amlani.

The Rotary Clubs in Panaji have been involved in tree planting in Panaji for the last two decades due to the passionate involvement of Andrew de Souza, the proprietor of A Lua in Merces. Even to this day, many trees in Panaji, Merces, St Cruz, Ribandar and Socorro have tree guards bearing the name of either some Rotary Club or A Lua or both. During a recent survey at Patto – Panaji, we found some such tree guards around exotic trees like the sausage tree (Kigelia africana) and the Maple-leafed champa (Pterospermum acerifolium). Andrew is no more on this Earth; the trees he planted are a living memorial to him. He was remembered with pride and two minute silence before the first tree was planted. Continuing his tradition, we planted a baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) at Campal. It lives for more than five thousand years and there are just six trees of that species in Goa.