For many years, Shyam carried out these activities all by himself. But soon after his marriage, his wife too joined him in his efforts and now his children also help him care for the environment. As soon as a young tree grows to a particular height with a decent girth, Shyam ties a plastic bottle with small holes in it to the plant. The water dripping from the bottle keeps the soil around the tree moist.On seeing Shyam’s work to keep the environment healthy, others in the village have also joined him. They help him plant saplings and today, within a radius of 15 kms around the village, there are some 23,000 trees. Around eight years ago, Shyam bought an auto and became an auto driver. He has painted ‘Save Water- Save Trees’ on the the back of his vehicle in both English and Malayalam. He usually carries cans of water in the auto to replenish the water bottles tied to trees on the routes he takes. Shyam’s auto really stands out and invariably intrigues the passengers who ride in it.Around four years ago, Shyam started another activity. He noticed that some tailor birds from the surrounding trees had flown down to a pool of water stagnating around one of his plants and were drinking from it. The heat was soaring in Kerala and Shyam realized the birds too need water. He first placed some water in some empty coconut shells on his front porch and found that these makeshift water bowls did attract thirsty birds.
Shyam Kumar’s work has been appreciated by the local media in Kerala and many people have been influenced by his efforts. Recently, he received calls from a friend in Lakshadweep and another in Salem, asking for expert advice on what trees to plant in and around their homes. Shyam personally helped his friend transport saplings to Lakshadweep from Kerala.Around five years ago, Shyam was asked to assist in planting tree guards for the trees at Mangalavanam, which is very close to the High Court in Cochin. The judge from the court requested Shyam to help them in their afforestation drive too. Shyam carried some tree saplings with him when he went to Cochin and not only did he help with the tree guards for the external trees, he also planted trees to attract birds. Today, this area feels like a small bird park with plenty of birds and squirrels being attracted to the trees at Mangalavanam.
Shyam’s efforts have not gone unnoticed – over the years he has received recognition in various forms from the forest department as well as from private organisations. ‘Vrikshamitra’, ‘ Vanamitra’, ‘Prakrati Mitra’ and the ‘Harita Vyakti Award’ are some of the honours he has received.Shyam has read about how the once commonly seen house sparrow is slowly vanishing from most areas where there is a high density of human population. He is taking measures to learn more and hopes to be able to do his bit for these little birds. This extraordinary crusader for nature and the environment believes he still has a lot more to learn and do in order to leave a green and clean world for future generations to enjoy.
Photo credits: Shyam Kumar
Source & Credit:http://www.thebetterindia.com/55278/shyam-kumar-auto-driver-kerala-palakkad-environment-trees/