Green champs

Green champs
Dr Easaw Thomas, an anaesthetist, at his home in Bukit Timah.

EASAW Thomas, Bhavani Prakash and Kirtida Mekani have an evergreen passion which rightly deserves to hog the headlines as the National Parks Board (NParks) commemorates 50 years of Singapore's greening in a golden jubilee tree-planting session and commemorative dinner next week.

The trio have earned ecological nicknames for their long-term association with nature and plant-beauty. Dr Thomas, who has planted more than 100 indigenous forest trees in his 26,000 sq ft bungalow along Wilby Road, off Upper Bukit Timah, has been hailed the "Green Doctor". Ms Prakash, a financial expert turned environmental activist who runs a popular website Eco Walk The Talk, has been praised as the "Green Lady" while Mrs Mekani and her businessman-husband Bharat are fondly known as the "Green Couple" because of their passionate grassroots roles in greening Singapore.

"Green" Indians, you may call them but, in a nutshell, these role-model Indian Singaporean migrants sum up how the community can work hand-in-glove with the Government to ensure Singaporeans enjoy living in a garden environment that is covered with pervasive greenery - a tribute to the half-century islandwide tree-planting campaign that former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew started in 1963. It has become an unbroken 50-year tradition.

The National Parks Board will mark 50 years of tree-planting and greening Singapore by setting aside 1,963 trees for members of the public to plant this year. Anyone who wants to plant a tree in any of the parks pays $200. The more than $470,000 raised will go to enhancing the biodiversity and heritage value of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

"You have to salute Mr Lee (Kuan Yew), who had a genuine interest in greenery and laid the foundation stone for Singapore to be globally known as the 'Garden City'," says Dr Thomas, 68, the former head of the anaesthetic department of the-then Kandang Kerbau Hospital, who traces his ancestry to Kerala. Born in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Thomas came to Singapore in 1954 when he was nine.

Chennai-born Ms Prakash, 43, renowned as a speaker, trainer and writer who gives talks and conducts workshops on green sustainability and various environmental issues, adds: "We are struck, wherever we go overseas, by how green and beautiful Singapore is. It's a huge achievement for Singapore, a tribute to Mr Lee (Kuan Yew), held in the highest regard and seen as a role model by other cities and countries for being clean and green. Yes, greening raises morale and pride in one's country.

There is a growing body of scientific research that green spaces can increase the well-being of people, by decreasing stress and improving health."

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