Puri: Krushna Chandra Biswal of Gundalba village in Astarang block here has carved a niche by planting around 50,000 saplings and turning around 5 km area of the village green which now stand as a bulwark against the natural disasters like cyclones.
Biswal, a 59-year-old retired army officer and a dedicated planter by passion, began the initiative to plant palm, jamun, mango and other fruit saplings in the coastal area near his village 22 years ago. He has planted saplings up to Gumuti Keshab temple of Daluakani village in Puri district.
Interacting with Orissa POST Biswal said, “I have planted saplings near the seashore to prevent soil erosion. I have encouraged local youths to collect seeds of palm and other fruits or saplings so that I can intensify the plantation drive. I have been successful in my endeavour and till now I have planted around 50,000 saplings which include cashew nut trees too. But, it’s appalling that neither the local authorities nor the state government extended a helping hand to sustain the efforts and I’m not cribbing either.”
Revealing about the initial hiccups, Biswal said, “When I began the drive, I faced stiff resistance from the local forest officials. I tried to convince them about my plantation work and later they agreed. What pained me the most was when a government official destroyed my garden where I toiled very hard.”
The officials, Biswal said, often accused him of taking over government land. Later, the divisional forest officer (DFO) allowed him to plant saplings and they realised their folly, he said. “I personally believe it’s our social obligation to protect the ‘Mother Earth’ and more so the coastal areas which often bear the brunt of cyclones. It’s quite fulfilling to see people enjoying the fruits of the trees I have planted,” he added.
Locals say the casurina jungle and Biswal’s plantations stand as a bulwark against the cyclonic storms and are instrumental in saving lives of many.
Environmentalist Jayakrushna Panigrahi said, “Biswal is doing an incredible job and his plantation is helping the villagers to stay safe from the havoc of cyclone. It also helps prevent soil erosion and provides firewood to the villagers. Biswal has carved a niche in creating forests and has become a role model for past the 22 years for the villagers in Puri.” Many environmentalists often visit him to discover the secret of his passion for plantation, he added.
Wildlife activist Soumya Ranjan Biswal said, “Realising the fact that natural disasters are wreaking havoc to the coastal villages almost every year, Krushna Chandra had started collecting and planting palm seeds in the forests 22 years ago. He has invested his own pension money, running upto lakhs, to keep the environment green. He himself walks around to collect palm seeds and plant them. The trees protect the sand dunes and villages from natural disasters. The presence of palm trees also helps reduce unnatural deaths due to lightning in the future. The greenery protects the farmland near the coast from salty winds.”
He also took the initiative to plant various fruit-bearing trees and small plants in the village forest in participation with his children and friends which has gone a long way to resolve the issue of food shortage for wildlife, Soumya Ranjan added.
Chaitali Shome, OP