Bhadrak: Bishnuprasad Padhi from Nami village under Bhandaripokhari block in Bhadrak district has made a name for himself for environmental conservation.
Padhi, a teacher by profession, says the devastation caused to the trees by 1999 Super Cyclone left him shattered.
“I was shocked to see large number of trees lying on the ground everywhere. A desire grew within me to plant trees in order to replenish the lost greenery to some extent,” he says.
So far, he claims to have planted over 8,000 trees. He also claims to have spent one-third of his salary on plantation.
A garden spreading over three acres of land near his house and Nami College is a testimony to his hard labour. Another garden, two kilometres from Manjuri Road station and eight kilometres from Chhatabar National Highway takes the cake.
Padhi started working at the garden on the Rath Yatra day in 2016. Now this garden is the envy of passersby. It has varieties of plants and trees starting from medicinal plants to fruit-bearing ones. It has 30 different types of trees including neem, asan, harida, bahada, seven to eight types of mango trees and acacia.
Padhi spends most of his leisure time in this garden. He gets up at 5:00 am and after finishing his daily chores, he goes to the garden where he works till 9:00 am. He takes care of plants, herbs and trees, treating them with medicines and manures. After returning from school at 5:00 pm, he again works in the garden. There is a house in the garden where he reads and narrates the Bhagabata to people.
Locals say they have not seen any day when he has skipped his duty.
The teacher employs a homeless person named Nanda Jena to take care of the garden. He says he spends over Rs 1 lakh every two years to repair the fence. “My family members never oppose me. Rather, they inspire me to go ahead with my works,” he adds.
Padhi is now employed at Gedema Primary School in Keonjhar district. But the teachers, staff, students of his earlier schools where he served along with locals still remember him for his efforts to add greenery to the institutions he served in. For this, he has been felicitated on several occasions.