‘Sarojini Vana’, a small plantation site in Bonai forest division of Sundargarh district, Odisha. This small plantation patch has earned the name out of the love and care of labour. Sarojini is the one who has transformed the ‘denuded forest land’ into a green patch of trees. In the span of one year, this patch has accommodated around 3,200 varieties of wild valuable trees and fruit-bearing floras by adopting all scientific methods of plantation. Clearly, it is not an overnight effort but the consistent dedication of Sarojini.
Sarojini resides in Ulsurei village under Kuliposh forest range in Sundargarh. The forest stretch that we see today was once a barren land. The Bonai Forest Division, Sundargarh came up with an idea of creating an artificial forest and initiated the plantation project in Bonai. Initially, the local labourers from adjoining villages started working under the project. However, a strong management of the plantation project was necessary. And that’s how Sarojini was handed over the responsibility of looking after the comprehensive management of the project.
“I incur immense satisfaction during plantation and that’s why eagerly opted for the assignment. I’ve reared these big trees from tiny saplings infusing all the knowledge I have learned from the rangers. These plants are just like my children and I will look after them till the end”.
As Sarojini took up the job in July, 2020, the forest department provided her with around 10,000 saplings along with other resources. She distributed few saplings among the villagers and planted rest of them at selected grounds. Initially, she took care of the plants by treating the soil with vermin composts, DAP fertilizers and urea for better growth of the plants. Sarojini has also dug circular channels around each plant to facilitate proper water supply in the nursery. Further, the fire line has been constructed into 4 quarters to prevent accidental fire in the nursery.
The forest officials were overwhelmed by the miraculous growth of the plants and proposed to name the patch of land as ‘Sarojini Vana’. The ‘Sarojini Vana’ includes trees like Aamla, Neem, Jackfruit, Berries, Guava, Black plum etc that were destroyed at the nearby forest.
Today, this site has turned into a home for many exotic birds. School children spend time here and enjoy delicious fruits of the nursery. And it also suffices for the daily needs of habitats. Besides, Sarojini also plants trees and motivates others for plantation under several VSS programs.
Generally, we name something after a deceased person. But I am fortunate to have such a thing while alive. I am happy that my life has been utilized for the service of people. I believe people are now aware and will do a lot for the environment in the future.
In the present scenario, forests are the victim of ambitious human interventions and sporadic wildfires. Saving and flourishing forest areas is the need of time. The story of ‘Sarojini Vana’ highlights the small but valued aspiration of the ‘conservation of forest’ in the Bonai forest division. We must retrospect that if a single woman could turn barren land into a lush green forest through love and care, then how significantly a positive human intervention could reboot nature!