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Meet the ‘Tree Man’ who turned a desert green!

Turning a sand dune into a green garden might seem like a difficult task, but a septuagenarian has single-handedly achieved this and managed to plant over 27,000 trees in a village near the Rajasthani city of Jodhpur.

Ranaram Bishnoi of Ekalkhori village near Jodhpur climbs a high sand dune every alternate morning and waters the trees that he has planted in about 25 bigha (little above six acres) of land with a large earthen pitcher!

Defying his age (he’s over 70), every other day he walks three kilometres to reach the dune from his house, climb it, go down the other side to get the water from his friend’s tube-well and mount it back to reach the site where his trees are flourishing. In this manner, he has planted about 27,000 indigenous trees such as
neem, rohida, fig, khejadi, kankeri, babool
and bougainvillea.

‘The plants are like gods for me and by serving them I feel accomplished and relieved,’ Ranaram says. He has also developed a small crater on the dune to collect water using a big polythene sheet and keeps it covered to avoid the water from being consumed by the cattle or getting evaporated in the severe desert heat.

‘Sometimes, I also take the women of my house along and at other times, I take the girls of the village to help me with watering the plants. The trees are spread on a large chunk of the dune and I pay them Rs 2 per plant from my own pocket,’ says a beaming Ranaram, who has earned the sobriquet of the ‘Tree Man’.
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