Bhubaneswar, Oct 3 (PTI) Ramon Magsaysay Award winner and Gandhian environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt today strongly advocated steps to expand the green cover to counter climate change.

“The extreme heat conditions we are experiencing now can only be countered by plantation of trees. It is the answer,” he said after planting two saplings – Rudraksha and Termanalia — in a university campus here.

Pointing out that Kalahandi district in Odisha figured among the hottest areas of the country during summer, the 83-year-old social activist known for the Chipko movement said vigorous effort to extend the green cover would recharge the ground water and counter the effect of rising heat.

Bhatt was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982 for community leadership and was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

Recalling his experience when he visited the areas devastated by the 1999 super cyclone in Odisha, Bhatt said it worried him a lot as a lot of greenery had been wiped out by the natural calamity.

“The city of Bhubaneswar was badly affected in the 300 kmph storm and scores of big trees had got uprooted. But it made me happy when I saw that the city had reclaimed a lot of greenery,” he said.

“I am also glad that the area under mangrove vegetation in the Odisha coast, which covered an area of 193 sq km in 1999, has increased to 231 sq km as per the latest Forest Survey Report,” the eminent environmentalist said adding the mangroves acted as a buffer against cyclones and need to be protected.

Bhatt was felicitated in the Siksha O Anusandhan (SOA) university during his visit, a university release said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.