“How many saplings you have planted so far to build a green tomorrow? If you have planted any, it is commendable. If not even a single, plant at least one and nurture it. There is only one earth and we all should strive to preserve it for the future generations as well as our better tomorrows.” – This is the advice of Bhoohalli Puttaswamy to whoever he meets.
The 63-year-old retired history lecturer from Bhoohalli of Channapatna taluk is popularly called the ‘Tree Man of Channapatna’. In a little over 11 years, he has single-handedly planted around 4,000 saplings on barren lands, roadsides and government land. He has also involved students in planting over 500 saplings in and around Channapatna.
The sexagenarian has converted 3.5 acres of barren land at Bhoohalli into an urban forest by planting nearly 500 saplings of varieties of native species. He created ‘Jeeveshwara Vana’ with 500 saplings next to Mahadeshwara Temple on Channapatna-Sathanur Main Road, and ‘Vidyarthi Vana’, next to Jeeveshwara Vana, with the involvement of students of various colleges. While he created ‘Kavi Vana’ near Bhoohalli with around 1,000 saplings, he increased the green cover with varieties of saplings at Kempegowda Layout in Channapatna.
It all started with an effort to prevent encroachment of a government land at Bhoohalli, he said.
Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, Mr. Puttaswamy stated that some influential elements eyed the government land at Bhoohalli years ago and began exercises to grab it. Upon learning of this, Mr. Puttaswamy rushed to the village and trying to save the land, alerted the villagers about the incident and later planted saplings. “Nearly 800 grown trees are there now,” he said.
Mr. Puttaswamy claimed that he had spent nearly ₹18 lakh to plant saplings, and has been spending ₹15,000 a month to nurture them. “I hire tankers for watering the saplings during summer,” he said.
According to Rudreshwar, a folk enthusiast from Ramanagaram, the Tree man has spent most of his retirement benefits and earnings on planting saplings. “Mr. Puttaswamy mobilises students and volunteers, digs pits himself, plants saplings and nurtures them,” Mr. Rudreshwar, who is also a close aide of Mr. Puttaswamy, said.
Mr. Puttaswamy retired a few ago back as the Principal of the Government First Grade College of Channapatna, after serving for 32 years. He has penned 12 books on various issues.