This Indian bus conductor has planted 38,000 trees

This Indian bus conductor has planted 38,000 trees

His name figures in CBSE textbooks as a green crusader

By C P Surendran

Published: Thu 15 Jun 2017, 12:39 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Jun 2017, 2:41 PM

Yoganathan used to travel a lot as a salesman decades ago when he had no hope of becoming anything else. He did not particularly like his job; but it afforded him an opportunity to travel the towns and villages in around South India's Nilgiris range of mountains. And he had found solace in its beauty.
Even in that position - as a sales representative -Yoganathan had found time and energy to plant saplings. After his stint at a tea estate, he became a conductor with the Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSTC ). It was around this time that Yoganathan realized one man can make a difference. In the last 28 years, he has grown a whole forest all by himself as a tribute to the Nilgiris which sustained him through the days of a job he had not liked. He has planted 38,000 trees, and his name now figures in CBSE (Central Board Secondary Examination) text books as a green crusader.
Yoganathan is a school pass-out. He is a native of Mayiladuthurai near Nagapattinam, South India. What prompted him to crusade on behalf of the silent, sentinel trees is not just their beauty, "But also the fact I have been witness to large-scale tree felling and smuggling. A tree takes years to come into its own, and often gives shade for 100s of years. It can be felled in hours. It's a kind of mindless destruction".
Yoganathan has staged, in his younger days, protests against tree felling and smuggling. However, since the forest officials themselves were often a part of the operation, the protests were not producing results.
A conductor on the Marudhamalai-Gandhipuram number 70 bus, Yoganathan has always found time for his passion which was at first laughed at by the public at large. But now people join him in his mission.
With Yoganathan's popularity growing, he is often invited as a guest lecturer to conferences and university seminars. "This helps me to engage with the students and convince them of the need to plant trees."
The National Service Scheme (NSS) teams of schools and colleges too regularly invite him to participate in their activities. Yoganathan says, "If every man or woman planted just one tree, we would be all living in a garden."

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