Kerala

This autorickshaw driver is on a green drive

Autorickshaw driver M. Syam Kumar is on a mission to retain the green cover in three grama panchayats in Palakkad.- Photo: K.K. Mustafah  

M. Syam Kumar of Thenkurissy drives an autoricksaw to eke out a living. But what differentiates him from other auto drivers is the way he blends his profession with his passion for planting trees.

Each passenger who boards his auto is requested not to object to carrying tree saplings in the vehicle. Often, the traveller is bowled over by the rare social commitment of this school dropout, and by the time the destination is reached, the traveller promises Syam Kumar that he or she would utilise at least a portion of their free time to plant trees.

Syam Kumar also often them gifts one or two saplings from those that are ready for distribution in the auto.

More than being a planter of trees, he is also a guardian angel of the green cover of Thenkurissy, Koduvayur and Peruvembu panchayats, located on the eastern fringes of Palakkad.

He leads a social movement against felling of trees.

“I have been on this mission for the last 18 years, and my wife and son are also part of it. Inspired by us, people have planted more than 23,000 saplings in all these years and ninety per cent of them have turned into big shade-giving and fruit-bearing trees,” Syam Kumar told The Hindu .

It was only three years ago that the autorickshaw driver won the Haritha Vyakthi Award of the Kerala State Bio-Diversity Board.

 It was his early stint as a temporary watchman with the Forest Department that helped Syam Kumar realise the need for planting trees.

In the beginning, he concentrated on the arid regions of Palakkad such as Kozhinjanpara, Menonpara and Eruthenpathy to plant trees. Local communities were forced to upkeep the planted trees by utilising the minimal water they got daily from the local self-government. He mainly plants trees such as ungu (Pongamia pinnata), vepu (Neem), Mayflower, njaval , badaam , manimarudhu and poovarasu .

His three-wheeler sports the slogan, ‘Tree a Blessing.’  Syam Kumar begins his day by tending to the saplings growing in his nursery located close to home.  He also discourages people from erecting huge hoardings close to shade-giving trees.


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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 4:30:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/this-autorickshaw-driver-is-on-a-green-drive/article7556133.ece

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