Keonjhar: With an aim to make the lungs of the towns and cities healthier, sexagenarian Ramesh Chandra Mishra has taken it upon himself to reforestation. Mishra’s dedication to restoration of greenery is exemplary and he has already planted more than four lakhs of trees. He is fondly called ‘Bruksha Manisha’, a man of trees by local people.
The man in discussion is 64 years old resident of Janghira village under Harichandanpur block in Keonjhar district. Six-and-half years in teaching profession and now retired as bank employee, Mishra, is also associated with Gayatri Parivar and understands ‘Tree is life’. This understanding keeps propelling him from within to work for the cause of greenery.
Unlike many of his friends and coworkers who have ensconced themselves in their dream houses and are spending time with grandchildren, he has made it a point to dedicate his life for making the environment green.
Regarding the beginning of his labour of love, Ramesh says there was a time when Keonjhar district used to have jungles and jungles everywhere. The roads used to have verdant green canopies over them, treating the commuters passing under them with a soothing effect.
“Now the picture is totally different — a worst one. Rapid industrialisation, infrastructure development and unmindful felling of trees have taken a toll on this green cover. This painful picture of the district has made my heart cry. Then I decided to do my bit to bring back the lost greenery.
“And since then I have been working for this single cause, tirelessly and relentlessly,” Mishra said.
Despite being not in a better position, he is carrying out plantation by spending from his pocket. He has so far planted over 4 lakh saplings in last five years. “Unlike some organisations, I never forget to take care of the saplings till they have grown up to a safe height,” he boasts.
“It is his effort for which the barren lands have transformed into jungle. He has made us understand the value of trees in making the earth a livable place. He has always been advising elders and younger generation not to fell trees and plant at least one sapling in their life time. Following his advice, now we are also planting trees,” some villagers said.
“But we are nowhere near him, when it comes to dedication. It surprises us when we see him visiting villages and educational institutions, creating awareness among the people and students, even in his advancing age,” they add.
With the help of students and environmentalists, he has founded a nursery on the premises of Bateswara temple, at the village end. There he is growing saplings of over 30 varieties including teak, sal, piasal, peepal, neem, Indian black berry, jack fruit, wood apple, mango, guava, cashew nut, lemon etc. Besides the villagers, the forest department too is taking trees from his nursery.
Asked about his mission, Mishra says he has adopted two villages. “My aim is to give a green coverage to these two villages. Now I am persuading the villagers to plant at least five saplings each. I am felicitating those people and organisations who are green crusaders with awards like ‘Prakruti Sakha’ and ‘Prakruti Sathi’ on various occasions. And my target is to spread my movement to 108 villages in the coming days,” he signed off.