The famous American writer, Sidney Sheldon, once said, “Try to leave the earth a better place than when you arrived.”
Vishnu Lamba who hails from the Lamba Village at Tonk district, near Jaipur in Rajasthan has been doing just that. Popularly known as the ‘Treeman of India’ (a tag given to him by Former Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee) Lamba runs and manages a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Shree Kalptaru Sansthan to contribute to the environment without any government support.
Planting trees for a better future
Lamba undertakes initiatives to plant trees through campaigns and plantation drives. And, he is known to have gifted around 26 lakh trees to mother nature through this. The idea of reforestation was introduced to him at the tender age of seven when he began to plant all kinds of flowers and shrubs in a cattle ranch.
Ever since, Lamba has traversed the extra mile to make way for greener spaces and tackle issues like climate change and pollution. Speaking about the reasons for promoting greenery, Lamba says, “Trees are not just trees, in India they are divine”.
Over the years, he has toured 22 states across India to visit 56 freedom revolutionaries and plant saplings at their homes to commemorate their sacrifices. Dignitaries like the then-President, Pranab Mukherjee as well as both the former and current Chief Ministers of Rajasthan - Vasundhara Raje and Ashok Gehlot, and Chief Ministers of other states like Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, accompanied him for some time on the trip.
Inspired by the Hindi film, Paan Singh Tomar, the plot of which revolves around the lives of bandits and Chambal, Lamba wandered across the ravines in Chambal and Chitrakoot in Rajasthan for nearly two years. During the course of this, he met and lived with many individuals who used to be dacoits and encouraged them to take an oath to protect the environment. He organised a ceremony in Jaipur called ‘Pehle Basaaya Beehad-Ab Bachage Beehad’ in 2016 to inspire them to safeguard the region. His conservation efforts also led to a rise in the popularity of green weddings, where saplings were taken as Kanyadaan with zero dowry.
Under the leadership of Lamba, Kalptaru Sansthan has pledged to make 100 villages in the country environmentally ideal (Kalp Grams), out of which three of them are already on the path to becoming Adarsh Grams (becoming ideal villages). With reference to this, Lamba says, “Life's goal is a big question, I will endeavour to make about 100 villages environmentally friendly by planting five crore trees.”
Prioritising animal welfare
Besides this, Vishnu Lamba has also been working towards the welfare of birds. From organising ‘water pots for birds’ campaigns and actually installing them during summers, to putting together free medical camps for injured birds at the time of Makar Sankranti, he has done it all.
Lamba and his organisation have kept their shoulder to the wheel to implement year-round rescue operations for injured animals and birds. After noticing many instances of the death of birds in Sambhar, poaching in Ranthambore National Sanctuary, and deteriorating habitats in Jhalana jungle, he urged the state government to work towards tackling the climate crisis. He even began campaigning for the conservation of camels and peacocks, owing to their ill-treatment in Tonk near Jaipur.
Lending a hand during the pandemic
While India has been reeling under the pandemic, Lamba and his team have continued their tireless work in protecting the environment.
“During the pandemic, our young brigade (workers and volunteers at Shree Kalptaru Sansthan) have been distributing medicinal plants to the public, to help boost their immunity as we battle COVID-19,” Lamba notes.
In addition, Lamba says that the efforts have been fruitful in generating employment too. “We managed to revive the traditional methods of making plant-based disposable plates. This way many individuals, especially women who were rendered jobless found a new livelihood,” he reveals.
Lamba’s feat is serving as an inspiration to several people in the region and beyond to take small steps towards rejuvenating the environment.
Edited by Roshni Shroff
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