The 1999 cyclone in Puri wreaked havoc on the coastal areas and brought damage to the environment. When Krushna Chandra Biswal witnessed the damage inflicted on the environment, he decided to start planting trees on vast stretches of barren land. After cyclone ravaged his village, he started planting jamun, mango trees to restore greeneries on the barren areas with. A retired army officer, based out of a coastal village in Puri district, Orissa; he has planted more than 50,000 saplings with his own savings. His plantation now covers an area of up to 5 km and it acts as a green cover in preserving the village against any natural disaster.
His work has been appreciated by many environmentalists and has often hailed as Puri's 'palm man' by the locals. All the expenses incurred for carrying out the plantation activities have been covered by his pension money. He feels that it is his moral obligation to work towards restoring the greeneries in his village and protect the environment.
"I visited my village after the 1999 super cyclone and I was extremely disappointed to find the damage that was caused in my village. There was widespread devastation in Puri district and various other parts of Odisha. In the initial days, I decided to start planting trees like mango or palm trees to cover barren areas. Since my childhood days, I have always been interested in nature and it gives me immense satisfaction to work for a cause through which I can give back to society," shares Krushna Ranjan Biswal while speaking with The Logical Indian.
After serving in the army, he settled in his village and decided to complete work on restoring plantations in the cyclone-affected areas. His first encounter with a cyclone was in 2019 when Fani hit the coasts. He realised the gravity of the issue. He started talking to the young members in the village who would be interested in assisting him in the plantation drive. His daily routine centres around plantation activity for nearly seven to eight hours.
"Monsoon season is considered favourable for planting seeds. After I came in contact with locals of my village for planting activities, I planted nearly 50,000 seedlings on a vast stretch. Most of it included varieties like palm, mango, jamun, etc. These trees act as a saviour, in case of occurrence of any disaster such as cyclones or floods. In the long run, it also allows to maintain the fertility of the soil and prevents soil erosion." shares Krushna Ranjan Biswal while speaking with The Logical Indian.
When he dedicated his entire time to plantation activity after his retirement in 2005, he spent his own savings for carrying out the activities. His venture is one of its kind as he himself collects palm seeds, plants them and ensures that their maintenance is being done. The entire process has not been easier for him and he has faced a lot of challenges to keep it going. The forest officials inquired about him when he started planting palm seedlings on vast stretches of land. In the beginning, many of his planted trees were cut inadvertently by the forest officials. However, with his zeal and fervour, he was able to convince them of his noble intentions.
A volunteer with the Orissa Paryavaran Sanrakshan Abhiyan, Soumya Ranjan Biswal, who has been working with him told The Logical Indian that on a daily basis, Biswal walks and cycles up to kilometres for collecting and planting palm seeds. "In the past 22 years, he has done incredible work by planting palm trees. These trees stand sturdy when any cyclonic activity takes place in the village. He has also planted many fruit-bearing trees which is good for the village people."
"Not all trees which I have planted since 1999 has survived the fury of nature. Since floods are a common occurrence in our village, many trees get uprooted. Despite that, I feel that it is important to keep the plantation activity going on. These trees also serve as a habitat for birds, animals and help to maintain a balance in our ecosystem." adds Krushna Ranjan Biswal in a conversation with The Logical Indian.
The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of Krushna Ranjan Biswal for conducting plantation drives to restore greeneries in Odisha.