Khirod Jena retired from the Indian Army in 2005, and since then, he has planted more than 20,000 fruit-bearing trees in public places. The fruit-bearing trees in Odisha's Jajpur include mango, guava, jackfruit and Jamun in 11 villages of Barachana block. He planted more than 600 saplings during this year's monsoon.
Every morning, Jena wakes up at 6:00 AM and sets out with a bag full of saplings to find vacant patches of land. He does not stop planting the saplings but creates a bamboo fence around the plant to secure it from wandering cattle. This has been his routine for the last 16 years, and he is not yet done.
Started Planted After Retirement From The Army
Jena is a resident of Kalashree Village of Barachana block. He was inspired by a local teacher, Kishore Chandra Das, who pursued a similar initiative in the area. The New Indian Express quoted Jena, "When I left my village to join the Indian Army in 1985, it had hundreds of trees. But when I returned after 20 years, I found that the entire area had lost its green cover". The retired Army personnel began planting fruit-bearing trees on roadsides, river embankments, and wastelands in Kalashree, Gajendrapur, Raipur, and nearby areas. He has also planted hundreds of trees on Bahadiha hill, which was barren till a decade ago.
Aims To Plant More Than 1 Lakh Trees
He uses his pension to maintain and nourish the plants. Every month, he spends around ₹ 10,000 to buy saplings, planting and fencing material. He said that the mango trees he planted 15 years ago have begun to bear fruits, and he sees people plucking them to sell in the market and earn a living. He aims to plant more than one lakh trees, and till then, there is no stopping him.