Staying single for a greener planet, Bihar’s ‘Bhishma’ plants 8 lakh-plus trees

Bettiah (Bihar) (IANS) A resident of Pipra village in Bihar’s West Champaran district has taken a vow to remain unmarried for environmental protection, similar to ‘Bhishma’ in ‘Dvapara yuga’ (in Hinduism, an age believed to be the best of the four yugas) took a vow of lifelong celibacy for his father’s happiness.

Gajendra Yadav, of Pipra village under Narwal Borwal Panchayat of Bagaha block, has planted about eight lakh saplings so far.

Yadav considers the trees his family and celebrates major festivals such as Dussehra, Diwali and Raksha Bandhan with them.

In a conversation with IANS, Yadav apprised that he is the eldest of four siblings and all of them are married.

He said he gets worried if his trees are harmed.

Yadav talked about how he was listening to the radio in his teens, wherein in a programme it was said that the environment would become unbalanced in the absence of trees, threatening all life on earth due to lack of oxygen.

Yadav changed the course of his life after that episode and dedicated himself to protecting the environment.

Marriage proposals started coming in for the modern day ‘Bhishma’ when he reached the suitable age, but Yadav stood firm on his ground and remained dedicated to his work.

Yadav mentioned how he once met Vikas Vaibhav, an IPS officer who was posted in Bagaha as the Superintendent of Police.

Yadav invited the SP to the banks of Semarkol Tirhut canal of the panchayat, which was known for being an area where crimes like rape, murder and theft were common.

Vaibhav planted a mango tree in the area to spread the message of peace and harmony.

Yadav said that his work intensified after getting inspired by this gesture and he now spends his entire day in serving the trees.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi honoured Yadav in Patna and were impressed by his commendable work and dedication towards tree plantation.

Yadav apprised that he has been indulging in the work since 2003 and has planted about eight lakh saplings so far, most of which include Banyan, Peepal, Pakad and Neem as they provide shelter to birds and small animals, along with preventing soil erosion during floods.

These trees live long and provide ample oxygen to humans.

Yadav’s use of empty spaces on embankments, canals, roads, school premises and outskirts of villages to plant trees has won him wide acclaim.

He said that he prepares the saplings himself and has a team of 100 youths who help him in the process.

Adding that, he keeps an eye out for woodcutters, who are mostly released by the police after they admit to their action.

Yadav said that FIRs are registered against the ones who do not admit their mistake.

While speaking of his upcoming plans, Yadav said that he would stick to his routine as long as his body allows him to.

Sakina Khatoon, head of Narwal Borwal Panchayat, also praised Yadav’s work and said that he is spreading the message of protecting the environment and motivating youths to do the same.

She added that greenery could be seen everywhere in the village because of Yadav’s efforts.

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