Squadron Leader (retired) Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel in space 25 years ago, has vowed to re-forest India, the first phase of which would be launched in 3 arid districts around Bangalore on August 15. Mr.Sharma, a former pilot of Indian Air Force, while speaking at the valedictory function of a hybrid autorickshaw contest and exhibition at SRM University, Kattankuluthur, on Saturday evening, said that the foremost objective behind the project is to create forests in arid areas and to hand over these newly created forests to women.
Elaborating further, he said they have identified 22 varieties of trees and will be creating ‘seed balls’ (traditionally called “beejams”) of the same. These seed balls, based on the Japanese method, will be caged in natural nutrients and once sowed, they will have a higher survival rate. Mr.Sharma said that Indian Space Research Organisation will help in photographing the arid zones of India for this project and they will also be working along with the Centre. He said that Citizen Positive Movement will be taking the lead in this initiative and the first phase of the project “million beejams” will be launched in 3 arid districts around Bangalore on Independence Day. The pilot project will spread over 300 square kilometres, Mr.Sharma added.
Stating that the present centre of global economy is in Europe, he said it is gradually moving East and that the West found it cheaper to start industries in India and other countries owing to cheaper cost of production. He warned that this could at the same time, lead to disaster owing to various factors including a rise in disposable income among others, Mr.Sharma added.
Speaking on the occasion, Bob Hiensch, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India, said the present volume of trade between the two nations was 4 billion Euros and the target was to double it in four years. While wooing the Indian business community to invest in Netherlands, he said his nation offered tremendous potential in the fields of information and communication technology, biotechnology, agriculture, infrastructure and logistics, medical and water technologies.
P.Sathyanarayanan, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said they would be establishing a SRM University Industrial Estate and invite the private sector to set up units so that professionals could interact with students and faculty. He said they planned to make the hybrid autorickshaw contest and exhibition, an annual event. Seven universities from the Netherlands and India took part in the contest. In the two-stroke category, the team from Han University, Arnhem in the Netherlands secured the first prize while the host university won the first prize in the four-stroke category.
The event is organised jointly by the Netherlands-based Enviu and Context India. Among others who spoke on the occasion were Pradeep Esteves, Director of Context India, Stef Van Dongen, Director of Enviu, Biju Mohandas and Country Business Manager of Acumen Fund.