Jaipur: In 1975, an 18-year-old youth was advised by his grandmother that there is no better deed than planting saplings and feeding animals and birds.
The suggestion of his grandmother, who helped him plant a peepal tree at that time, seeped deep into the mind of the youth, which eventually changed the course of his life. Now, Himmaram Bhanbhu, is known as the 'tree man' of Rajasthan.
Recipient of Padma Shri in 2020, Bhanbhu has planted over 5.5 lakh saplings, of which 3.5 lakh have grown into big trees, giving oxygen worth Rs 12 billion to the masses.
Bhanbhu is a social worker, nature lover, conservationist and environmentalist from Nagaur district in Rajasthan, who takes pride in his work and urges people to start caring for the environment, else they will face the consequences by the year 2040.
"The rising temperatures across the world due to global warming is a warning sign for all. Every person might have to carry oxygen 24x7 if the current trend of depletion of greenland continues," he said.
Bhanbhu has converted his six-hectare land into a jungle by planting 11,000 trees. Now there are 300 peacocks and hundreds of deer and other animals on this land.
"Even the peepal tree which my grandmother inspired me to grow has spread wide and large, allowing around 500 people to sit under it. We celebrate its birthday each year by lighting diyas around it," he said.
Bhanbhu is 70 now, but there is no lack of energy in him as aims to plant 2 lakh more trees.
"During the Covid-19 pandemic, we faced oxygen crisis which taught all of us a lesson to care for our environment. While a person normally lives till 80, a peepal tree has an age of 700 years while many other trees also live for around hundreds of years. So, we all should try to grow one sapling into a tree," he said, adding, "We have ensured that we plant one tree on the birth of each child in our village and name it after his name so that his name lives for hundreds of years."
Bhanbhu also has issues with bursting crackers during Diwali.
"When we were kids, we used firecrackers in limited numbers. But over the years, factories producing crackers have mushroomed with the sky turning into a smoke chamber during Diwali, posing health hazards to people, especially the children and the elderly. Is this the way to celebrate festivals," he asked.
"I have made 2.5 lakh kids take a pledge to shun crackers during Diwali. Instead, they can light diyas and distribute clothes and sweets to the poor by saving the money they spend on crackers," he added.