Kashmir’s Chinar Man: On a mission to preserve legacy, conserve environment

wilayattimes (Jammu and Kashmir)

Srinagar | WTNS | July 04: Setting a glaring example of social-responsibility, a man in Kupwara has planted hundreds of Chinar trees to preserve the legacy of Kashmir’s rich past and contribute towards the conservation of environment.

Earning the tag of the “Chinar Man of Kashmir”, Abdul Ahad Khan, 36, a resident of Hatmulla Mughabpora in North Kashmir’s Kupwara has since past many years, embarked on a journey to plant hundreds of Chinar trees in the remote district’s Kamraj forest division. While doing the laborious job on his own, he invests all the money from his pocket to buy the plants despite his constraints of earning paltry wages as a labourer.

Over the years, Khan has been very instrumental in creating viable ecological spaces and helping revive the fast-fading presence of Chinar trees, which have fallen to the increasing habitation, development and commercialization.

Khan said that diminishing chinar cover in Kashmir valley created a deep sense of concern and disappointment inside him. “The decreasing number of Chinar pushed to keep planting. It holds great significance in the Kashmir valley. No planting has happened for a long time now. Everyone cherishes the shades and beauty it offers,” Khan said.

Initially starting with a trail in his locality 15 years ago, Khan says its unexpected growth awakened the spirits to go beyond the edge. “As I planted some and they grew well, there was no looking back and I went on with the chinar campaign of 200 plants, the number of which only continues to swell since then without any harm to the natural habitat,” he adds.

After recognizing his relentless efforts over the years, he said that having earned the coveted tag of Chinar Man from the Forest Department was indeed a big-achievement and acted as a shot in the arm. “From then onwards, I always received the support of the concerned Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in plantation strides although there was no financial support. But, nevertheless, he has always been very supportive and encouraging to do good for the environment,” he said while appreciating the role of DFO.

Khan holds an unwavering passion for planting trees and conserving the environment in its true spirit, however due to the weak economic conditions, his efforts are constantly fraught with hiccups as multiple headwinds of survival weaken his perseverance and commitment for the cause of my environment.

“Despite this all, I’ve vowed to keep the mission Chinar alive and growing against all the odds. “I’m not financially sound. There are challenges and other hardships but I want to continue this passion for the rest of my life,” Khan noted.

For him, Chinar trees are no less than a family, which require constant care and regular upkeep to keep tap of their well-being and growth. “I’m doing this selflessly without expecting anything in return for these Chinar trees. I have even been called mentally retarded for choosing chinar over fruits, walnuts and other plants that help financially well,” he says while adding that, at times, he hops on to plant other varieties like Deodar as well.

Concerned over the dwindling number of Chinar trees, he wants to leave an everlasting contribution towards the society and inspire others to take up the responsibility of preserving and reviving the legacy of Chinars, which have in the past been the hub of shades, chatters and spiritual awakenings.

However, he laments the lack of government support and sensitivity towards the environment at a time, when Climate-Change is becoming a major concern while taking a center-stage at many top level international talks. “I have always meant to do it for the sake of Allah and their responsibility towards us as humans. I have dedicated these trees to each individual in this world and want them to enjoy the best of its essence,” Khan said