In summer, Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh is dry and brown, but not Bharatpur village. A human-made forest by a small hill outside the village is lush with greenery. This is the result of years of dedicated work by Bhaiyaram Yadav.
Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh
The sun is sharp and there’s a nip in the air, but the landscape is not particularly lush in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh. However, there’s a patch of welcoming green in Bharatpur village, where a human-made forest by a small hill welcomes all. This green cover and the birdsong in the vicinity is the result of years of hard work by Bhaiyaram Yadav, 57, who began planting saplings in 2007.
We all hear of sapling planting drives, but not many of these survive and grow into trees, because everyone tends to forget about them after planting. This is where Bhaiyaram shines in contrast. Bhaiyaram built a hut for himself in a vacant spot outside the village and began living there. Although the land belonged to the forest department, it neither had water supply nor a hint of greenery. In the initial years, Bhaiyaram manually fetched water from the village in the morning and evening to keep the plants alive.
But, this did not happen without hard work. He also had to handle being called “crazy” by other villagers. And where did his inspiration come from? His parents. “When I was young, my parents used to tell me that they could not educate me, but if I wanted to be remembered forever, all I had to do was plant a few mahua trees. I listened,” Yadav told Gaon Connection.
But, it took a long time for Yadav to “green” the village. He got married and had three children, and after they all died early, he decided to no longer live for himself but for others. “I began planting saplings for others. These trees are now my children, and I live for them,” he added.
“In the beginning, everyone thought I was mad, because I was digging hills to plant saplings. But, how does one plant without digging?” asked Yadav. Today, those plants have grown into strapping trees, and the once-barren stretch is home to thousands of trees such as mango, mahua, acacia and banyan.
The attitude of the villagers has also changed, and several youths have come forward to help him. However, there are some people who chop off the trees stealthily at night. “No one dares to do so during the day, but the nights pose a problem. So, these days, I stay awake at night,” said Yadav. However, he understands that people have use for dry wood that is generated in the forest. “I never refuse people that. But, no one is allowed to cut a live, green tree,” he explained.
The government has also done its bit, with the setting up of a hand pump. Water from that keeps the saplings alive. “If only all saplings planted are taken care of and watered regularly, they will all thrive. If an individual can save so many trees, anyone can,” said Yadav.