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The Opium Toffee: A Green Initiative

In a first of its kind initiative, author Khushwant Singh, The Hoshiarpur Literary Society, and the Punjab Forest Department collaborated to plant trees in their endeavour to eliminate the carbon footprint of Khushwant Singh’s upcoming novel, The Opium Toffee. Every writing and publishing activity leads to the release of GreenHouse Gases, and the major contributor is Carbon Dioxide and methane.

The Punjab Forest Department carried out this plantation at the Punjab Forest Nursery in Muallanpur. The department planted fifteen hundred trees, including species like Shishma, Kanakchampa, Rajhain, Sukh Chain, Australian Kikar, and Kaindu.

According to author Khushwant Singh, this noble idea came from a conversation with a friend from Sustain to Survive organization while having coffee.

“Once he made me aware and calculated the kind of CO2e (Carbon Dioxide and other gases) a book produced, I wanted to mitigate the carbon footprint of the novel and approached the Hoshiarpur Literary Society and the Punjab Forest Department to help me in taking this initiative. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Punjab was very receptive to this idea, and I am sure that the step that we have taken will find roots, and many such initiatives will follow. Steps like using recycled paper, energy-efficient printing methods and usage of less toxic printing ink are some of the immediate remedies that the publishing industry can adopt,” added Khushwant Singh.

“Even though it’s challenging to arrive at an exact figure, rough estimates suggest that fifteen trees over their life cycle can offset one tonne of CO2e. Keeping in mind the various steps involved in writing and publishing, the mortality of plants in forest conditions etc., I figured that fifteen hundred trees would be a safe figure to plant.”

The Opium Toffee will be formally released in February and is a love story set in the Punjab and London of the nineteen-eighties. It is a story that traverses through love, drugs, betrayal, politics and fanaticism and opens a window to that disturbing phase in India’s history. Keroscene films have already optioned the Opium Toffee, Mumbai for a cinematic experience. This book will be author Khushwant Singh’s third book to be optioned for a movie making him one of the stellar contemporary Indian authors. Omung Kumar is adopting his biography on Fauja Singh into a biopic. At the same time, his previous novel Maharaja in Denims is being adapted into a film by Guneet Monga, producer of Lunch Box and Gangs of Wasseypur 2. Khushwant Singh has also authored, The People’s Maharaja, the authorized biography of former Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh.

“We are very proud of this initiative, and the Hoshiarpur Lit Society has always taken the lead in bringing important narratives into the society,” said Sanna K Gupta, President of the Hoshiarpur Lit Society.

Through this tree plantation, we plan to sensitize the writers and the publishing community about GHG emissions that the publishing industry produces. We will soon hold a seminar as well as write to all the stakeholders in the writing industry to consider options to help build a carbon-neutral world,” added Sanna.

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