'Green Man' Effort in Orissa to Galvanize Villages from Cyclone

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 13 2007 12:11 PM

Nirakar Mallick a lowly paid staff of the Orissa Government's Irrigation Department, has converted 10 acres of barren government land along the coast into a green forest so that cyclones hitting the village could have less disastrous impact.
Over the past two decades Mallick has planted and nurtured over 100 varieties of tress like sal, teak, casurina, mango and even coconut palms and bamboo in his individually grown mini forest at Aliha village under Aul Block of Kendrapada District in Orissa.

He has covered the surroundings of coastal village, which faces the brunt of cyclones often, with greenery by creating forest in the area. The main purpose of planting trees was to stall the cyclonic storms, which strike the region often.

"Plants are lifelines for human beings. It maintains the ecological balance. More forest and trees can only protect the village from high tide. So I thought to have plantation and planted thousands of plants," said Mallick.

According to him, in 1981 when he started his mission by planting saplings in the barren land, villagers branded and even criticised him as mad but he ignored all such comments and went ahead with his mission.

Later on when the seeds sprouted into saplings and trees, the locals appreciated his selfless work renamed the madman as 'Green Man'.

According to the villagers, nobody gives him fund for plantation. He created the entire forest by delving fingers into his own purse and the only assistance he ever availed was the sum of rupees 3000 sent by federal lawmaker Menaka Gandhi as gratis.

"Wherever people call him for help in plantation offering them plants as well as his expertise. He never takes a penny from anybody for his plants or guidance," said Bijay Panda, a local.

He often feels that he alone cannot guard the three-kilometre stretch of forest, which needs volunteers and also funds to construct a boundary.


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