Trees for company

Last Updated : 25 October 2010, 12:38 IST
Last Updated : 25 October 2010, 12:38 IST

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At the crack of dawn, this old man in Mysore picks up a pick axe, two plastic pots full of water and a sapling. He arranges everything neatly on his bicycle and sets out from his house in Saraswathipuram. He returns home four hours later, only after planting the sapling in the city.

This has been the routine of Gurikar, a retired supervisor of the then Karnataka Electricity Board, who has, in his own way, gone about with the mission of ‘Green Mysore’ for the last eight years. He takes a break from what he calls his kayaka (mission) only when he goes out of town to teach students of a job-oriented course in Bangalore. At first glance, he resembles Baba Amte, the social activist.

Shying away from publicity, this staunch believer in 12th century social reformer Basavanna’s message of  ‘Work is Worship’, does not like to highlight his achievement.
“I am in my own way doing a little to protect and preserve the greenery of the heritage city of Mysore. I would like to continue this mission as long as age permits me to.”

Vanamahotsava, every day!

So far, he has planted around 2,000 saplings in both Mysore and Bangalore. Government departments and organisations are known to celebrate Vanamahotsava but for Gurikar, planting saplings is so much part of his routine and he has been doing it without seeking anybody’s help.

“In Bangalore too, I have planted several trees on the West of Chord Road, Rajaji Nagar 13th Cross and also near Kanteerava Stadium before shifting to Mysore in 2002.” Even at the age of 68 years, Gurikar gets up early in the morning and goes out to plant trees. He carries a pick axe and digs a pit of four feet and then plants a sapling. He waters the plant.

“When I step out of the house, I have no idea where to plant the sapling. I stop wherever my instinct tells me to and get down to work. While in Bangalore, I bought saplings at Rs 2 per piece from Aranya Bhavan in Malleswaram. Subsequently, the price of the saplings was hiked to Rs 10. Now, I regularly buy saplings from the local nursery of the Forest Department. I get a monthly pension and all my four children are well settled. I do not have any financial problems. As long as we live on this planet, we need to give back something to society. We enjoy the shade provided by trees planted by our forefathers. The trees I am planting now will provide shade for future generations.”

He says maintenance of trees is more important than planting saplings. Every tree needs utmost care till upto two-and-a-half years. Later, it will be taken care of by nature. It is a great feeling to see trees planted by him eight years ago providing shade to people. Every citizen can do his/her own bit to the environment by planting at least two saplings in front of the house and regularly watering them.

“I am busy during the rainy season because it is the right time to plant saplings. But, I am equally busy during summer because I have to water saplings that I have planted in different localities. I collect water from public taps and water each and every plant, no matter how many trips I make.

“On an average, I make around 50 trips from the public tap to the spot where I plant the saplings. Many people who have seen my work ask me to collect water from the taps in their houses.”

Taking the bad with the good

Gurikar also works as a guest faculty and earns Rs 1,600 daily. Even that money is spent on the noble job of buying and planting plants. After retirement, this has become his main profession.

“Planting trees is our job and nature takes care of them later. We are only instruments in the hands of God to do this job. People need to understand the importance of trees. They give shade and bring rain. Usually, I plant honge saplings. Some people request me to plant fruit and flower bearing plants to which I oblige with a smile.

I also remove weeds grown around the trees planted by the Forest Department so that rain water percolates into the soil during rainy season. I get a sense of satisfaction seeing the growth of my plants. But, when they are chopped, I have felt really sad. But, sometimes cutting trees is inevitable keeping in view the growth of the city, but it is also necessary to plant ten trees if one tree is cut.”

Published 25 October 2010, 12:38 IST

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