Yadutand (Kaderma) Jharkhand, Aug.18 : At a time when global warming has become a major concern for all, an octogenarian in Yadutand Village of Jharkhand's Koderma District has contributed in his capacity to make the world around him turn green.
Pritam Mahto, an octogenarian illiterate farmer, has been planting saplings and caring for trees for over five decades. He has grown them on his eight acres of land, which was once rocky and barren.
Giving a new face to his land as well as the barren area skirting the village, Pritam Mahto in the last five decades has planted over 20,000 saplings.
These trees include mango, Mahua, Saal, Kendu, Khajur (dates), palm and many others that are converting this area into a mini forest.
Pritam felt inspired by the plantation drive of Forest Department in 1957. He was in his thirties at that time.
Determined to turn the barren land in his village into a green place full of trees, Pritam Mahto, 86, commenced bringing saplings from the nursery of the Forest Department whenever he could visit Hazaribagh area.
Alongside the forests are the vast agricultural fields where crops like maize, wheat, sugarcane and vegetables are grown.
"This land was in bad condition. It was barren and full of stones. First, I made drains and removed the stones making it better. I filled the drains. I planted trees with the main objective that I could use them to earn my living. But the government banned cutting of trees, the trees keeps multiplying," said Pritam Mahto.
Pritam, who lost his wife 30 years ago, never felt lonely since he kept himself engaged in planting saplings and tending plants and trees. So much so, he considers the mission of social forestry as his fourth son, in fact, his most beloved one.
A couple of fellow villagers, who branded him to be 'foolhardy' for his passion about growing trees, today praise him for his endeavour to increase the green cover in their village.
Recalling those days, Pritam Mahto added, "When I planted trees people called me a mad person. I cannot keep the count of saplings I have planted here but I can say there are over three lakhs trees here. This year alone I've already planted 300 saplings."
Villagers today want Pritam to be recognized for his endeavours.
"He should be given recognition in the country inspite of being illiterate that from such a small pond he is tending his trees and plants in his 8 acres of land. He never runs out of food. To provide water to his plants he dug small drains so that water can flow to the plants through them. We and the administration look up to him as he has great personality and doing a good job by planting saplings here," said Om Prakash Rai, local villager. By Girija Shankar Ojha