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Monday, August 21, 2019: Indian all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin alongside former Indian player Hemang Badani and Indian all-rounders Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar, Dindigul Dragons skipper Narayan Jagadeesan led a plantation drive initiated by the Balkrishna Industries Limited (BKT) Tires. They were joined by former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris and former Australian captain Shane Watson.

Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) had initiated a unique activity during the ongoing Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) that blended cricketing skill with Mother Nature.

On behalf of batsmen hitting the giant BKT tyre, situated a few metres away from the boundary between mid-wicket and long-on, the associate sponsors of the league had decided to plant thousands of saplings. This venture is in association with Isha Foundation, an NGO associated with Sadhguru.

Joint Managing Director of BKT Tires, Rajiv Poddar is hoping to plant 50,000 plants through the TNPL initiative. “We have tied up with Isha Foundation, which is an NGO associated with Sadhguru and are expecting to plant around 50,000 saplings in Tamil Nadu through TNPL,” he said.

In the Playoffs, if the ball hits the BKT tyre, 10,000 saplings will be planted and in the final it will be 20,000 saplings.

Watson wished that batsmen hit the BKT tyre more often during the match so that more saplings can be planted. “It is a great initiative by BKT to get more trees planted around Tamil Nadu. We have to continue planting saplings, because so many trees are being cut down around the world, not just in India. I hope that a few sixes that are struck on the ground will hit the tyre and make sure more and more trees can be planted,” he said on Tuesday.

Poddar feels the association with TNPL and the unique activity was an extension of the company’s concern for the environment. “We as a company are very conscious about our environment. Not just recently but for the past ten years. Near 50% of our electricity requirements for our two plants in North India are produced by windmills. That has been there since 2004. We’ve been recognised with National awards for Energy Conservation and Sustainability from the President of India. We’ve got it for a couple of years and again we’re surrogating that. We’ve invested a lot in environment. We’ve planted over 1,00,000 trees. We are very conscious about our footprint,” he said.

BKT Tires already has a presence in sports events across the globe but it is the first time that they have been associated with such an environmental activity, reveals Poddar. “Across the globe we are associated with football in France and Italy. In most of the events it is because they use our tires in the US. We are also associated with the Big Bash Cricket League of Australia. In India we are associated widely with Pro Kabaddi and now with TNPL. We also did the Bharat Super League kabaddi. It had four legs and one of it happened in Tamil Nadu which was hosted in Coimbatore.”

Tamil Nadu Cricket Association joint secretary RI Palani concedes BKT’s initiative has gone a long way in spreading awareness about conserving nature in the league. “BKT’s ground activity has become a talking point amongst the teams and the planting of saplings by the cricketers proves that they are also keen to bat for a greener environment in future,” he said.