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Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for - "Trunnels or Tunnel of Trees"

Bob Rupani Updated: September 03, 2022, 11:49 AM IST

Recently, industrialist Anand Mahindra in one of his tweets requested our Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari, for "Trunnels or Tunnel of Trees". What Mahindra actually said is, "I like tunnels, but frankly, I'd much rather go through this kind of 'Trunnel' ...@nitin_gadkari ji, can we plan to purposefully plant some of these trunnels on the new rural roads you are building?" And along with this he posted a beautiful video of a road flanked on both sides by trees, with their top branches touching and forming a green canopy.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – Anand Mahindra has requested Nitin Gadkari to make such "Trunnels or Tunnel of Trees".

I completely agree with Anand Mahindra and sincerely hope Nitin Gadkari acts on this. As far as I know, the first proper roads in our country were built by Chandragupta Maurya, in the 3rd century BC.  In the 16th Century, Sher Shah Suri went on a road building spree and even expanded one of Maurya's roads, into what later came to be known as the Grand Trunk Road, Asia's oldest, longest and most important road. While both these rulers are amongst our pioneering road builders, many others that ruled India also understood the importance of roads for purposes of connectivity, security, trade and commerce, etc.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – Sadly, our new highways and widened roads are almost completely bereft of trees.

While building or expanding roads, an extremely important welfare measure, many of our former rulers ensured that they also planted shady trees along with fruit bearing ones, on both sides for the benefit of travelers. Sher Shah Suri went farther and constructed Kos Minars (road distance markers) and also dug wells at regular intervals alongside our roads. He even made caravanserais (or roadside inns) with fully functional kitchens, where travellers could stay overnight and rest themselves and their horses, camels or bullock carts! And when on the move, they would often tie their horses or mounts to trees, and relax in the cool shade. If the season was right, and the fruit ripe, they could also pluck some and rejuvenate themselves.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – Many of our former rulers planted trees on both sides of the road.

In some parts of interior and rural India, such tree lined roads still survive and on my frequent road trips, I am always in search of them, as I take great delight in driving on such shaded roads. Sadly, with the increase in traffic and our population, they are fast disappearing and being replaced by "wider tree free roads".

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – Such tree lined roads still survive in some parts of our country.

Given this, I humbly ask Anand Mahindra, to request Nitin Gadkari, to not only make new tree lined roads, but also save and preserve the ones that still survive. These roads are part of our transport heritage, and it's important to preserve them.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – It's a real delight driving on tree clad roads.

These days when I head out on an overland journey, what I really miss are the tree lined roads. I normally carry a packed breakfast and lunch from home and in the earlier days; one would look for a grove of shady well foliaged trees, and then park under them for a refreshing repast. But now, finding a tree to stop under is not only difficult, but often quite impossible. And this is mainly due to the road widening that has happened in the last twenty or so years.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – There was enough room on these tree covered roads, to park in the shade for a refreshing break.

I understand that the growth of our economy, has resulted in a huge increase in the volume of traffic and we certainly need to widen, expand and improve our network of roads. But what I fail to comprehend is why we are not planting trees alongside our new roads and highways, which are as barren and bare as a billiard table.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – The authorities also followed the practice of painting white and red stripes on the tree trunks.

In the old days, not only were our roads lined with trees, but our authorities also took special care to paint the base of the trunks with prominent white and red colour stripes. This is still done in some forest areas and no oil paint is applied as it can harm trees and the colours used are made of white lime and red ochre powder. As the lime is alkaline, and the red ochre is acidic and rich in iron, they help protect the trees from pests and funguses. Another big benefit of colouring the tree trunks is that the paint serves as a reflector or road marking for motorists and aids in road safety, especially at night. One more advantage is that it conveys that the trees are protected and cannot be cut without proper permissions from authorities.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – If lucky, you sometimes also see wildlife on roads in forest areas.

That's not all. Trees absorb sound and lower noise pollution too. They help cool the surroundings and act as natural barriers for movement of dust and dust storms, which are common in the summer in the northern parts of our country. Trees are also barricades for both hot and cold winds and in the rainy season they act as umbrellas provided by Mother Nature to slow and regulate the flow and fury of rainwater. Trees hold the ground soil together and prevent it from coming onto the road too.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – There are numerous benefits of having roads surrounded by trees.

And if all this is still not reason enough for our roads to be lined with trees, let's not forget trees absorb harmful carbon dioxide and release life giving oxygen and this is one of the best ways to reduce the greenhouse effect and global warming. The fact that it makes roads more beautiful, and the trees also host birds and bees, in my view, conclusively seals the argument in the favour of "Tunnels of Trees". I hope our Minister for Road Transport & Highways somehow gets this message and responds positively to Anand Mahindra's request.

Anand Mahindra Requests Nitin Gadkari for – Road to Heaven

All photos-Bob Rupani

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