Freedom Fighter who planted 50 lakh trees on barren land dies aged 96

In sad news, Conservationist Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani, famously known as the ‘Vriksha Manav’ or the ‘Tree Man’ drew his last breathe in Uttrakhand’s Tehri District at the age of 96 on Friday morning.

Born on June 2, 1922, Saklani developed an interest in planting trees when he was 8 years old. His journey started from there and finally went on to plant over 50 lakh trees in Tehri district itself. This goes to show that he is the man for the environment. It should be noted that the land was barren when he started the planting trees and now there are abundant green trees.

Credits: Twitter

“A decade ago, he lost his eyesight because mud and pebbles went into his eyes while planting trees. But, that did not deter him. Even without eyesight, he planted thousands of trees,” his son Santosh Swaroop Saklani, who works at Governor’s Office, said, as stated in Hindustan Times.

In the beginning, he was opposed and targeted by the locals in his district who thought that he was trespassing on their land by planting trees. But his love, dedication and passion for protecting the environment and trees finally won people’s hearts.

Throughout his journey, his wife Bhagwati Devi backed his passion for the trees – “Trees were his everything. He used to say, trees are my family, my parents, my friends and my world. He did not wish to see the world because for him every tree was a world of its own,” 80-year-old Bhagwati said.

The forest area comprising lush green trees standing tall today which was planted by Saklani was named ‘Nagendra Dutt Saklani Van’ after his elder brother Nagendra Dutt Saklani who was also a freedom fighter. Saklani was honoured with the ‘Indira Priyadarshini Award in 1986’ by the then PM Rajiv Gandhi.

Hailing from Chennai, Chaithanya G is the Managing Director of TheYouth. He has dedicated his whole life to reading and writing.