By Vikas Vaidya :
Friendship Day celebration, in a ‘green’ way
Celebrating Friendship Day doesn’t merely mean, tying a band to your buddy’s hand. It can have a different meaning. Can an activity on Friendship Day be planned as such that it would help the whole mankind? Yes, a city youth did something on that line. He has converted a barren land into a forest-rich land by planting saplings on every Friendship Day. He did not do it just for the sake of it, but he conserved the saplings leading to transformation of the land into the forest full of flora and fauna. Shrikant Shivankar, a young dynamic social worker of Nagpur city and Secretary of Green Foundation, bought acres of land 12 years ago at Chhichholi Pathar, 38 kms away from Nagpur in Hingna tehsil, and today he has converted it into a beautiful forest and environmental potential place. “When I bought the land. I looked at it. There was nothing except the rocks. I thought wouldn’t it be great to wake up to the sound of chirping birds, with fresh air and splendid scenery around? In the busy lives of our cities when even house sparrows are fast disappearing, and I made it my dream project in 2010. Now, I feel happy as I could convert my dream into a reality with 12 years of extreme efforts by creating a forest-rich habitat,” said Shivankar while talking to ‘The Hitavada’ “Now, this only private forestry nearby the city, is host to animals like nilgai, wild cat, hyena, wild rabbit and a large number of peacocks. The diverse vegetation including teak, Arjuna, Ain, Jamun and other trees, add colour to this sprawling land. The lake inside the land is home to many birds, especially in winter.
The area has diverse topography and forest types, which make it an ideal home for a large variety of fauna, from insects to mammals,” said Shivankar. Shivankar, the Spokesperson of Nationalist Congress Party, city wing, is passionate about wildlife and nature conservation. In 2010, he started planting saplings in the barren land. Today, he could cover acres of dense plantation planting lakhs of trees in 12 years that host many wildlife species. “The problem is, we expect the Government to do everything. But I think if like-minded people, NGOs and other agencies purchase the land and do their own bit to conserve the forest and preserve it will do a wonder,” felt Shrikant. Shrikant started a campaign for plantation every year on the occasion of Friendship Day by giving the slogan, ‘Make tree your friend’, to make society aware of planting trees. The passion to expand the green cover grew stronger and Shivankar kept buying land from farmers who weren’t using them. This way the land was used and also farmers got money to repay their debts as the land was anyway lying idle. Gradually, the 20 acre tree cover became larger and today it covers 54 acres of the land. There were a lot of native trees that already existed there.
He decided to retain those and follow three important rules: no chopping down of any tree, no human interference and no poachers. And with this thought, the efforts to make a dense plantation started in 2010 which is continued every year to make the area further green. He took initiative to stop poaching in the area, deforestation due to locals’ interference by taking help of forest personnel Shri Ninave and Shri Kolhe. “Creation always seemed to come about in a sort of chain reaction. We should not worry about it, pursuing our task in all its simplicity; but as we turned around we saw water flowing in brooks that had been dry in the past. This is the most impressive result of the chain reaction that is created. Trees protect our watersheds. They inspire wonder and provide places for recreation. They supply the oxygen we need to survive,” stated Shrikant. As the green cover expanded, animal and bird species increased too. The flora of this place includes hundreds of varieties of indigenous trees, many of which are of medicinal value. His wife Rashmi also gave complete support to her passionate husband and made several sacrifices. “Our aim is to preserve the flora and fauna, especially the forests and to increase green cover, for the future generation. We believe that when we die, we should give back the same which we got from our ancestors to the next generation,” said Rashmi and Shrikant Shivankar.