By Abhishek Anand: Six years ago, Ajit Singh, a native of Chhinchas village of Sikar area of Rajasthan, took a one-of-a-kind vow–walk barefoot till he planted 51,000 saplings. Now, having met around 85% of his target, Singh, a techie by profession, is confident that he will be able to achieve his goal this year and wear slippers, hopefully before the monsoon.
Singh started his initiative of planting saplings in 2017 and since then, has given up wearing footwear. The initiative is aimed at stopping expansion of desert and making oxygen parks. So far, Singh has planted over 43,000 trees, most of them on his own and many with the help of self-help groups.
“I started the Yatharth Welfare Trust and started planting saplings in 2017. I took a vow to not wear shoes till I completed the target of planting 51,000 tree saplings in and around my village. I tried to sensitise people and many came forward to help me in this cause.
I want to complete this task as soon as possible but also with a guarantee that the saplings survive,” said Singh.
“So far we have planted over 43,000 trees, hopefully we will achieve the target this monsoon. The plantation is meticulously planned. We are making oxygen parks for residents, involving them in taking care of the plants till they grow into trees. A number of trees in a cluster are easier to take care of. Such green islands can change the temperature of nearby areas and increase the ground water levels in the surroundings,” said the techie-cum-environment conservationist.
Many areas in Rajasthan experience harsh summers and due to lack of irrigation methods, tree planting remains a government responsibility. Singh, however, took the task to a next level and spent about 90 per cent of the total expenditure from his salary in the past six years.
“The kind of satisfaction I feel when I see the saplings growing is unparalleled. Hopefully I will complete the target and wear shoes again this monsoon,” he quipped.
After working at a private firm, Singh took up the challenge of walking barefoot around the village and sometimes in various cities to identify available land and convince people to grow an oxygen park.
“We have planted trees in Rajasthan’s Sikar, Churu, Nagaour, Bikaner, Bhilwara, Tonk, Jhunjunu, Jaipur and other districts,” he added.