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Monika Mondal
Monika Mondal

Migrants/Refugees and Migration is one of the very sensitive issues of this era. Its not just about Rohingya, Mexicans, Kurds or the millions of humans who are crossing borders in search of better livelihood opportunities. Since the onset of globalisation, flora and fauna, ocean water, soil and all that can be imagined has equally been  affected of this perilous displacement. Eucalyptus, which was migrated to the south Indian land in late 1700s, holds such a story. As stories goes, This tree was first planted around 1790 by Tippu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, in his palace garden on Nandi hills near Bangalore.

Eucalyptus is a native of Australia but thanks to the globalisation wave, it is found both in the tropical and temperate world, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China, and the Indian subcontinent, to sum up the 700+ species of this tree has acclimated itself to most parts of the Earth. This widespread promotion of the tree comes with a reason.

Euclyptus in India : 

During the period 1980-86, several factors, such as high and increasing market price of wood, comparatively high and stable returns from wood farming, risky nature of agriculture, and savings in labour costs and supervision ease in the cultivation of eucalyptus, prompted several farmers to experiment with eucalyptus farming. In states like Karanataka, Eucalyptus plantation was backed by governmental support and now the region is in dire straits since the groundwater level has faced drastic fall.

Eucalyptus species have attracted attention from researchers, governments and environmentalists is because of desirable traits such as being fast-growing sources of wood, producing oil that can be used for cleaning and as a natural insecticide, or an ability to be used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria.

But this profitable tree is also termed as ” Water guzzling: Ecological Desperado “

Here is why :

Eucalyptus, a perennial tree which sucks out water from the land for the entire 12 months of an year unlike other trees, which shed their leaves in season. Have you ever seen any other tree/ plants growing in the vicinity of Eucalyptus? It is because it is blamed for modifying the chemical composition of the soil where its roots stretches to, making an inhospitable environment for other plants to germinate. So, basically Eucalyptus functions as the lone wolf.

World Bank push for plantation of this tree, has led the roots to scatter all over the world. But the policy was not backed with enough research it seems now. In 2003, NABARD was funding Indian farmers to plant Eucalyptus, with the same logic of economic gains perhaps. Data tells that 80% of Indian paper mills are dependent on the tree. What once highly recommended by the government and the social forestry department is now backed by efforts to undo the damage. Governments are promoting other plants and trees over Eucalyptus and NGOs are also working to bring the issue to the public.

Where on the one hand, the country is hosting numerous open breeding sites for mosquitoes and with no proper management of sewage and water waste, on the another hand we have, such a tree which is open to the idea of taking in all the water and eventually giving out monetary gains and inestimable oxygen, What all is needed to be done is fixing the parts of the jigsaw.

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