Bhopal: Death was knocking at his door but he defied it and plunged into action to save environment by planting saplings. Here is ‘Vrikshamitra’ Sunil Dubey, 59, who was down with brain tumour and doctors had given up hope on his survival. So, before entering the operation theatre, the doctors had asked him “If you survive what you will do?” Dubey’s curt reply was “I will plant saplings my whole life.” Nine years have passed since he returned from jaws of death and never looked back.
Dubey who works as stenographer in public health engineering department, has planted 1, 68, 484 saplings, mostly of medicinal varieties, till now in different places of the state which include 3,784 plants in Khandwa, 3,000 in Vidisha, 5,000 in Tikamgarh, 300 in Indore, 2,000 in Gwalior and Sagar. In Bhopal, he has planted saplings at 40 places including Nehru Nagar, Kalpana Nagar, Kalpana Nagar, Rachna Nagar, Gautam Nagar, Ashoka Garden, Old Subhash Nagar, Babadiya Kala, Govindpura, MANIT and Hoshangabad Road among others. Not only this, he has planted samplings in different cities of other states too including Raipur, Agra, Kannauj, Jhansi, Ahmedabad etc.
Dubey who is active in plantation for past 10 years, says, “My operation was held in July 8, 2008 and doctors gave me three months complete bed rest. But I took one month rest and started studying about plants and trees. Due to my strong belief and will power, I was able to recover soon. Even I stopped taking medicines after five months while doctors advised me to take it at least till one year.”
Apart from planting, Dubey organises various workshops, drives and awareness programmes in schools and colleges. Even he uses to gift plants on occasions like birthdays and marriages. Seeing his huge contribution in the field, he has been feted with various awards by private institutions including ‘Vrikshamitra’. In 2016, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) appointed him as ‘Swachchhgrahi’. He is member of ‘Shine India’, a scheme by the Central government.
He further says, “Now, I am absolutely fine. I wake up at 4 am and leave home at 4.30 am for morning walk. After walk, I go for watering plants, carrying 30 litre water can in my car. I water plants especially in those areas in the city where we planted the samplings and which are dying due to excessive summer heat. I plant at least one sapling every day.”
“My father, a follower of Gandhiji was deputy secretary in Vidhan Sabha and mother was a teacher. So, since childhood I had interest in social work. I spend all my salary of Rs 30,000 in plantation work. I didn’t take single penny from government. I get immense support from my wife, principal in a government-run home and my son,” the environmentalist said.
“Since god gave me second birth, I want to devote my whole life to serve environment. I want to convert the hills near Kaliyasot dam into green area. This is my dream project. We have planned to plant saplings of 12 species in the area and we have started collecting seeds for the same. We also asked help from government for protection of saplings from animals here,” said Dubey adding, “Death, thou shall die, but trees shall survive in the name of ‘Vrikshamitra’.”