Paul Walsh has been going to Maidan every Saturday morning for 15 years to oversee the training of his Jungle Crows rugby team, comprising hundreds of boys and girls. This Saturday though was different: no children chasing after the rugby ball, no bruises or scratches to tend to, no yelps of delight on scoring a try. Walsh was there with a group of players to clean up the mess left behind by Cylone Amphan and replant some of the trees that had been partially uprooted.
Walsh and his team had surveyed the patch of Maidan they play on opposite Ispat Bhavan on Chowringhee a day after the cyclone and were devastated by what they saw. The place was littered with shattered trees. Some of the old priceless trees, along with many young trees that Jungle Crows had planted around the patch of green they had adopted as a rugby field, had been uprooted.
Around eight years ago, TOI had helped Walsh carve a rugby ground out of a section of the Maidan that was in utter disuse. The Army, which owns the Maidan, had also extended its support that saw a garbage dump, that was being used as an open toilet, turn into a lush green ground where children now play the game.
“While some large and really old trees may be difficult to save, the partly damaged younger trees could be salvaged. Accordingly, the team went about cutting off the sections of the crown that were damaged and then pulled the trees into place,” Walsh said.
WWF India state director Saswati Sen said it would take time to get the beautiful Maidan back to some normality but it was getting a helping hand. “This is a small yet crucial step towards nursing the damaged trees. Other clubs are also chipping in to restore the Maidan,” she said. Naturalist Arjan Basu Roy, who had been involved in helping Jungle Crows reclaim the rugby field, said it was heartening to see Walsh and his team be the first to come to the aid of the Maidan and attempt to heal its wound.
Walsh, a former British diplomat (he had given up a promising career and stayed on in Kolkata to teach rugby to kids), said, “We’ve been shaken, a bit bruised and for sure shocked by events. But like every good rugby player, we’ve shaken off the hit and got back into the game.”
Source: Times of India