The forests are important for human lives as ‘concrete jungle’ cannot provide fresh oxygen and cannot absorb carbon dioxide. In this regard, I wish to highlight the great personality of India and the noble soul of Dr. G.B.K. Rao, the Chairman cum Managing Director of Pragati Resorts in Hyderabad, a famous bio-diversity park. Dr Rao is Chairman Expert Committee (Agriculture & Food Processing), Southern Regional Council, ICC. Pragati Resorts is one of the World’s First Resorts to obtain integrated ISO certification and Green rating from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). According to Dr. Rao, a tree absorbs 12 kilograms of carbon dioxide and supplies oxygen throughout the year which can benefit six members of a family. Thus, the importance of a tree can be greatly realized. Anyway, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Countries are encouraged to undertake local, national, and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree-planting campaigns. The organizers are the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and other relevant organizations in the field (un.org/en/observances). It is also observed from the website that “for millions of people across the world, wood helps provide safe drinking water, food, and shelter – but wood can do much more and is a renewable resource when forests are managed sustainably”.
In the case of Pragati Resorts, it was established in 1994 and at that time the area was totally barren with terrible climate conditions such that even lizards would not lay eggs there. The water in the area depleted due to the mining of limestone which made the land unfit for cultivation. Dr. G.B.K Rao selected the land on the basis of three criteria – i) it is away from the city also away from highway, ii) area is totally non-cultivable /barren, and iii) totally depleted of water (pragatiresorts.com/about-pragati/). Now, the area has been turned into heaven and the people call “Pragati is Heaven on Earth”. I visited a couple of times and undoubtedly it is ‘Heaven’ as Ambient Air Quality is only 1.4. We know if Ambient Air quality is worse is the impact. It is pertinent to mention that as per the World Bank report, “Globally, air pollution is a silent killer. The air pollution levels in India are among the highest in the world, posing a heavy threat to the country’s health and economy. Almost all of India’s 1.4 billion people are exposed to unhealthy levels of ambient PM 2.5 – the most harmful pollutant – emanating from multiple sources. These small particulates with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns are about one-thirtieth the width of a human hair. Exposure to PM 2.5 can cause such deadly illnesses as lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease” (worldbank.org/en/country/india/publication/). Dr G.B.K Rao, an industrialist-turned-environmentalist, believes that Indian culture is an integral part of nature, and only when sacred herbal and medicinal plants and local cows are protected, then nature can be protected, and man can lead a happy and healthy life. Around 800 varieties of sacred herbal heritage medicinal plants, other rare mother plants, and trees inter alia are Kalpavriksha also known as kalpataru, have been planted in the Pragati which is spread over an area of 2500 acres. There are healing herbs also which remove toxins and provide refresh to an individual through aromatherapy. Also, the area is completely free from mosquitoes, bad bacteria, and viruses. In the Resorts, there is a provision of ‘Amrutha Ahaaram’ (meaning Amrita/lifesaving foods) and for this the special 3-day package has been designed to boost immunity levels naturally to fight against any type of virus or bacteria.
On the International Day of Forests 21 March, I salute Dr. G.B.K. Rao for his great initiative to develop an undeveloped area and to make it a wonderful biodiversity area in India.