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Funded by Tamil Nadu Govt, a ‘Green’ App to Fix Chennai’s Water Woes Using Century-old Research on Trees

People stand in queues to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

People stand in queues to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

The mobile applicaiton, developed by IFS officer Sudha Ramen, has more than 50,000 downloads. It focuses on plantation techniques.

At a time when Chennai is grappling with an acute water crisis, a mobile application is offering a simple solution to the problem – by increasing city’S green cover.

Treepedia, developed by Sudha Ramen, an IFS officer and recipient of Dr Kalam Innovation in Governance Award, launched the app in 2018 and it has more than 50,000 downloads till date. The app focuses on plantation techniques and inter-cropping and also highlights the concerns of a diminishing tree cover.

“Selection of the right tree on the right land itself will help reduce the water usage and yield maximum returns, both tangible and non-tangible. Secondly, the app categorises trees based on their usage types. Cities like Chennai require more urban green spaces, green avenues, pollution control trees – which are listed out in this app,” said Ramen.

Ramen has been interested in trees and forestry right from her childhood days and decided that awareness should be created for the public as well as for farmers.

Ramen said: “The information about trees was available mostly in books or as research papers. We had a lot of resource material on trees but it wasn’t being used in the real world, especially the farmers and tree growers were not aware about this. That’s when I thought that this information should reach those who actually need it. We wanted to bridge that gap and create a digital encyclopedia of trees that are beneficial to the farmers and tree growers. This app is meant to reduce mono-cropping and offer the farmers, interest groups, NGOs and anyone interested in gardening, more choices. I wanted to encourage the growth of native trees.”

Tamil Nadu government has given Rs.18.4 lakh for the project.

“Tamil Nadu government, under the scheme Tamil Nadu Innovative Initiatives, funded this project. Tamil Nadu Forest department, my parent department, supported me by all means to complete this project. Information from 100 years of Forest Research was collected from several sources. Presently, it is developed as a one-way application wherein the forest department will be able to update or add any information related to Tree cultivation through this app. A team of five JRFs who worked on project mode, went around the state to collect the data on trees and plantation models. They interacted with farmers and farmer societies to get more information on trees,” Ramen added.

Ramen says work is in progress to make this project pan-India.

“Yes, senior officers of Tamil Nadu and a few officers from other states have promised to help to make this app Pan-India. The continuous support and request to make the app Pan-India is under consideration. We will start the process of initiating the phase-2 of this application very soon.”

The app covers a diverse set of topics, including one on cyclone-resistant trees.

“Native trees are the best solution to this. Those trees have natural geographical adaptation to suit the environment. Selection of the right tree matters a lot. Usually, people ignore the post-plantation care and maintenance. After planting, the tree requires care for about two to three years. During their phase of growth, based on their utility, the tree requires branch pruning on a regular basis. The more heavily branched tree will add to its weight and hence get badly damaged during disasters like cyclones. The trees’ root system should also be known before selection,” she added.

Treepedia is a one-stop platform that gives details on trees and its significance, district-wise plantation techniques and also has videos that give insights into the plantation techniques.