Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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मैं बनूंगा करोड पैाधा पति

Malara Wants To Plant 10 Million Saplings


NatConnect Foundation

Fifty-four-year-old Kishen Singh Malara too has a dream - to connect people with Nature

By NITIN JUGRAN BAHUGUNA

A four-year-old village boy was accompanying his mother to the temple and on the way crossed a dense forest where he heard birds chirping in the tall trees. The sound was so melodious that the child stopped and begged his mother to catch the birds and take them home. His mother explained that the birds lived in the trees and would not be able to survive at home as their village did not have a dense forest.

On returning home, the boy planted bhima   (Grewia Optiva) and timul (Ficus Auriculata Lour) plants in the field near their house hoping that it would attract the birds and he could hear their song again. For Kishen Singh Malara, 54, this was the start of a deep love for the environment which would lead to the creation of ten shanti vans (peace forests), forests in the land of all Panchayats of Bageshwar district and parks in schools, colleges and temples across many states of India and abroad and his own nursery on his ancestral property where he is growing a diverse variety of plants.

“Abhi tak, maine 800,000 paudhe ugaye hai. Mai ek crore paudhe ugana chahta hoon jinke alag alag faide hon ( So far, I have planted 800,000 saplings and my goal is to plant one crore multi-useful saplings,” says the frail constant gardner who has changed the green face of Kumaon in the hill state of Uttarakhand.

Despite a debilitating impairment to his hip (ostrolysis) which has aged him beyond his years, Malara has kept his passion alive and grows fodder leaves, fruit plants and multi-use medicinal plants in his nursery in Mandelsera village which he gives free of cost to promote green cover.

He started producing traditional seeds from the age of 18 and due to his persistent efforts more than 3.25 lakh saplings have been distributed free of cost and planted till date.

“In 1990, I established Devki Laghu Vatika  on two- bigha land in the name of my mother. For twelve years I grew different plants for medicinal purposes and fruit trees in three nurseries on my land,” he says.

Today, he has just one nursery, but the diversity and range of the plants he has cultivated are impressive. Committed to the conservation of endangered tree species, he has planted saplings of 160 endangered species which are flourishing on his land. “I have 200 species in my garden, most of which are medicinal. Along with local herbs, I am also growing plants from other states such as Chandan (sandalwood), Ajneer and Rudraksh,” he reveals.

The states which have invited him to create forests include Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jharhand, Assam and Maharashtra while visiting teams from universities in Japan, Lithuania and Russia have taken tulsi and Rudraskh plants from his nursery. “I also presented tulsi plants to researchers from Yale University in the U S,” he says.

By planting trees, he rejuvenated two dried out water sources in his village. In 2015, Malara received a grant of Rs five Lakh from the state Forest Corporation to develop the Vatika due to which two peace forests were created. The following year, he received Rs one Lakh from the MLA Fund of  Chadan Ram Das for developing the Vatika.

In 2011-12, the Vatika was selected for a unique project – creation of a coral silk garden. “Hundreds of families were presented with coral silk saplings for planting and from 2012 to 2015, in all 175 farmers were trained in the Vatika by the Coral Silk Board, Uttarkhand,” Malara informs. “In May this year, Coral Burmese was brought from Assam which was added to our coral resham garden. Those who got the crop prepared 10,000 cocoons and after 15 days the butterfly was ready.”

Explaining what coral silk is, he says all types of silk are of white color except for coral silk which is golden-colored.  Four to five crops are obtained from this plant within 40-50 days and there is low risk of infection. “There is high demand for this silk in foreign countries and after Assam, our vatika is the second place in the country that is successfully cultivating coral silk,” he claims.

Along with coral silk, the crops of lemon grass, rosemary, ginger, aloe vera, big cardamom, basil, turmeric and camphor are being jointly produced.

According to him, coral silk production is environmentally the best form of sericulture as it can be produced on the tree itself. In traditional silk production, twigs have to be cut from other trees and this can cause infection to the plant. “If even 25 per cent of farmers take up coral silk production, it is possible to solve the problems of employment migration and environmental degradation in our state,” he avers. “But for this, we will need government cooperation.”

Malara’s vision for a permanent solution to the issues of migration and employment is to produce and preserve more local fruit and fodder leaves and multi-purpose plants. “I want to create forests that are medicinal and produce crops that are protected from animals along with the cultivation of coral silk. This will lead to rejuvenation of the drying water sources which, in turn, will boost the tourism industry,” he is confident.

Farming and animal husbandry are the two main sources of employment in the hill areas. Observing that villagers have to go far and wide for fodder for their livestock, Malara underlines that plantation of fruit and medicinal plants along with availability of fodder leaves around each village will provide ease of work and employment at the local level for the new generation.

Malara takes time out to attend seminars in schools and colleges where he appeals to the youth to take the help of the forest department to plant trees on their campus. This, he feels, will instill a sense of responsibility among the youth towards the environment.

 “My aim is to plant two saplings on the birth of a girl child and to take this programme up to the global level to connect people with the environment and preserve Mother Nature.”