Assam Northeast

Assam’s Brikhyo Bondhu Dots The Town Line With Deciduous Cover A Sapling Everyday For The Past 12 Years

A 10X15 square foot backyard of a Railway employee’s quarter is today the reason behind a better deciduous cover in Assam’s Bongaigaon district, the commercial nerve centre of western Assam.

Close to 3000 trees today dots various locations in not just Bongaigaon town, but Abhayapuri and Jogighopa in the district and Rangiya in Kamrup district, thanks to over 12 years of tireless efforts by Uttam Das, a senior commercial officer in Northeast Frontier Railway.

For the past 12 years, Das had been planting at least a tree six days a week every morning. And it all began with an epiphany he had during a visit to Bengaluru with his son in 2009.

“Seeing Bengaluru and the greeneries amid the cityscape, I realised what a green city is and how badly we lack in terms of green cover in our town and its nearby areas. So, I have taken a pledge to plant a tree every morning,” Das, also known as Brikhya Bandhu (friend of trees) in Bongaigaon, told News Move on Friday.

He grows most of the saplings in his backyard by investing a part of his salary every month, while the rest, he gets from well-wishers and forest department.

“I have received assistance from the forest department as part of Bongaigaon social forestry program under which, the department has provided me with saplings,” Das said.

As time passed, several have tagged along in the journey that he began alone and thus formed the NGO Basundhara in which, along with him, the key participants are Anup Saha and Rajesh Lalani.

The group plants a sapling at least every day and takes care of the already planted saplings to the period it can sustain itself. They carry the saplings on a hand-pulled cart and the members themselves travel around on cycles in order to not to contribute to carbon footprint in the environment.

“Several saplings planted beside roads have grown big enough to become a boulevard. It feels good to see people and animals taking shelter from the sun or rain there,” Das said.

Of late, the organisation and Das has received accolades and awards for their continued efforts. The title of Brikhyo Bondhu was conferred upon him in the year 2019 by Adil Khan an IAS officer posted as Deputy Commissioner Bongaigaon at that time.

“I have made a pledge to myself that I will continue planting saplings as long as I live,” Das said.

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