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Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
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He's saved trees, now this Calcutta typist fights for a holy creek

He's used up his entire resources for his cause. However, the economics does not bother Robin Pal: "I believe in bringing citizens together. "

He's saved trees, now this Calcutta typist fights for a holy creek
He's saved trees, now this Calcutta typist fights for a holy creek
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

"I t ’s an apt moniker. As a child growing up in Bhowanipore’s shady treelined streets, Pal was shocked by felling of trees on Bakulbagan Road by the municipality. "One day the road was just stripped naked of its foliage. It broke my heart." The Bhowanipore babus didn’t seem interested in doing anything about it, so the plebian son of a government clerk, who ekes out a living as a typist in a paints company, dipped into his paltry savings to fund a massive tree-planting job on the road. Some two decades on, Pal has emptied out his savings, provident fund and gratuity in spending nearly Rs 35,000 on planting and tending to the trees on the street. He still waters his trees unfailingly every morning, but these days he’s also obsessed with saving a river.

For the past five years, Pal has been fighting to revive the Adi Ganga (also called Tolly’s Nullah), Calcutta’s filthiest creek that wriggles away up to the temple at Kalighat and winds past grubby red-light ghettos, grotty tenements, putrid hooch shacks and wealthy Alipore to reach the Vidyadhari canal. Major Tolly, a British officerr, had dredged it more than two centuries ago so that pilgrims would be able to bathe in Ganga water when making a sacrifice to the Goddess. Today, pilgrims cover their noses from the gaseous stench spewed by its fetid waters that are polluted by the city’s sewage. Water buffalo hide in it from the heat, people bathe, defecate and wash utensils and children play skidding games on its steep banks of greasy black mud. To make matters worse, nearly 2,000 shanties have sprouted on both sides of the creek.

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