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The land of civil disobedience set to bloom again

ISP Patna Bureau 

Do you remember Sushil Kumar, the youngster who became an overnight sensation after winning a bounty of 5 crores in the Kaun Banega Crorepati show on Indian television? Well, eleven years later, Sushil Kumar has moved on to become much richer in commitment and resolve. Kumar is a dedicated ecological warrior today and is working steadfastly to claim back the real sense of the name of his native place – Champaran meaning the forest of flowering Champa trees. 

Blessed with abundant streams flowing from the Himalayas, located near the Nepal border, Champaran once used to be a land of abundant flora and fauna.  The region is presently divided into separate districts East and West. Once, it used to be thick forest land. Kumar is determined to reclaim the real meaning of the place. He is on a mission to plant saplings of Champa trees and nests for sparrows and other birds. “I wish for a time when there would be a Champa tree with beautiful flowers in front of every house and the birds can also sustain their lives,” he says. He calls it a ‘mahabhiyan’ or a mass movement, something like that of the first civil disobedience in Champaran led by Mahatma Gandhi. 

It all started with the construction of a new home by Sushil Kumar in 2018. It was then that his father instructed him to ensure that a Champa tree was planted in the courtyard. His father told him the importance of it and how the city has its name after the tree. His father’s advice made a lasting impact on Kumar and he not just planted the Champa tree in front of his house but also made it a mission to plant more trees. He kicked off the drive on Earth Day 22nd April 2018.

Initially, it was tough for him as he was almost a point of mockery of other people. But he persisted. He selflessly dedicated himself to the drive and went to every home donating one sapling and a sparrow nest. He was alone in the beginning but then after a while, his wife too joined him. Today, he has a dedicated list of volunteers including his friends who accompany him on the purpose. 

Initially, he had to purchase the saplings from his savings money but later on, people came forward with donations. Many business houses and professionals from the city joined him to plant Champa trees and fix sparrow nests across Champaran. Sparrow nests are accompanied by a water pot and a grain strand which is hung beside the nest for the birds to feed on. 

Due to the efforts of Sushil Kumar and his voluntary force, today there are 80 thousand new Champa trees growing in Champaran and an equal number of nests are providing a safe abode to sparrows and other birds. There is a strict policy of replacing any dried out Champa tree with a new one and every citizen of Champaran is aware of it. The movement has caught the imagination of many eco-friendly organisations and now plantation drive has crossed over just Champa tree to include Banyan, Peepal, Mango, Neem, Mahua and other trees as well. 

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