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75 Years Of India's Independence

We The People: Devender Sura, The Tree Man Of Haryana

Known as Haryana’s ‘Tree Man’, Devender Sura (35) is a constable in the Haryana Police. An athlete, the father of two turned environmentalist after observing the loss of forest cover in his state

Devender Sura, Tree Planter

Known as Haryana’s ‘Tree Man’, Devender Sura (35) is a constable in the Haryana Police. An athlete, the father of two turned environmentalist after observing the loss of forest cover in his state, and decided to reverse that on his own. His journey began in 2012, when he started pla­n­ting trees in Son­ipat. He says, “We pla­nt 40-50k tre­es every year, with focus on Indian species like lilac, ban­yan and fig.” With his father bearing all family expenses, he spends his salary on tree plantation. “I’ve been spending all my earnings on this for the past 12 years.”

“Materialism is rising. People are cutting trees for it. As a result, bird species are losing their abodes, which is resulting in extinction of many bird spec­ies,” Sura says, adding, “The Covid-19 pandemic was a result of us not preserving nature. We are disturbing the earth’s balance, and need to restore it.”

Through a people’s movement, Sura has so far conn­ected with 11,500 youth across his state who pla­nt trees, preserve them and ensure their safety. “We call them Paryavaran Mitra (friends of the environment).” Sura remembers a time when Har­y­a­na had a lot of greenery. “Our for­est cover is 90 per cent destr­o­yed, and water levels are going down. I want people to become aware of the cost of materialism.”

Sura has opened a “Janata Nursery” along the Son­i­pat-Gohana highway, where around 25,000 sapli­ngs of various species of trees are prepared every year for distribution free of cost.

(This appeared in the print edition as "Haryana's Tree Man")

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