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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Even as the world continues to witness the horrors of nature due to climate change and over exploitation by humans, an elderly man at a far flung district in Odisha has dedicated his life in spreading green cover in his surroundings and awareness about conservation and protection of jungle.

Meet Giridhari Bhoi from Polabandha village under Tarabha block in Subarnapur district who has been planting trees in more than 35 hectare of land at public places in his village since the last 30 years. He has not just planted the trees, but has also nurtured and protected them like his own children. 

All his adorable saplings have now grown to towering heights and Bhoi feels a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment in them.  He spends over eight hours every day in his densely covered forest for its security and spreading awareness about the utility of trees in human lives. In the evening hours he visits homes in his village to spread awareness among people.

“A major chunk of our village land was barren. I started planting trees in the area 30 years back as forest is indispensable for rain, and without rain we can’t grow crops and survive,” said Bhoi, a sense of urgency in his voice.

Bhoi’s journey to create the beautiful tropical forest so far has not been without obstacles. He crossed swords with the wood mafia and many locals in the process to create the forest. But nothing could deter him from his mission.

“Jungle is my life. I will protect it in the village till my last breath,” he said convincingly.

Local residents are effusive in their praises for Bhoi who is popularly known as ‘Tree Man’ in the area.

“Be it the planting of trees or motivating others through his environmental campaigns, Giridhari has given his 100 per cent to the cause. A majority of the people of the area have been inspired by his efforts and are now committed for preservation of nature,” said a villager.

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