Greening Temples: Kerala Govt’s ambitious project to fight climate change

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)-led government in Kerala has initiated a unique approach to addressing climate change and its adverse effects on the state. A new project has been launched to improve the vegetation in more than 3,000 temples run by the five Devaswom Boards under government control.

The project, called ‘Devankanam Charuharitham’ (Beautiful Green Abodes of God), aims to be implemented in more than 3,800 temples across Kerala. It focuses on renovating abandoned temple ponds, protecting sacred groves, and preserving water resources.

On June 5, Devaswom State Minister K Radhakrishnan launched the project on World Environment Day by planting a sapling in the courtyard of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) headquarters.

The initiative has received an official order and has been communicated to all devaswom boards in the state. The plan is to use the land available at these temples for tree planting, thus improving the overall green cover.

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The temples will cultivate flowering plants and fruit trees within their precincts. This initiative not only contributes to the self-sustainability of the temple, but also provides a daily supply of flowers and fruits for various temple rituals.

The TDB, responsible for managing numerous temples in districts from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam, has ordered its assistant commissioners to assess the state of temple ponds, which are important sources of water in several areas. The plan is to renovate and preserve these ponds with government funds.

Devaswom Boards are also active in protecting sacred groves, which are natural forests where serpent deities are worshiped in the open. The Chairman of the Devaswom Board says important sacred groves are already protected and by encouraging other temples to develop their own green cover, the overall vegetation can be substantially improved.

The project is being implemented not only by the Travancore Devaswom Board, but also by the Kochi, Malabar, Guruvayur and Koodalmanickam Devaswom Boards. The properties owned by Devaswom Boards will also be included in the project.

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The Kerala government has a pre-existing initiative called ‘Kavum Kulavum’ (Sacred Forests and Ponds), where grants are given to individuals for the conservation of sacred forests and ponds on their properties. The temples have always been eco-friendly, using organic materials derived from nature for rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, extending the environmental protection aspect to these temples aligns naturally and helps raise awareness among the public.

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