‘Tree Man’ or ‘Vriksha Manav’ of Uttarakhand passed away at the ripe age of 96. As per his family’s estimates, Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani must have planted lakhs of trees during his lifetime. As many as 50 lakh of them in the Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. Conservationist as well as a freedom fighter, Saklani died in his village in Tehri district. He was born on 2 June 1922. Saklani began planting trees when he was an 8 year old. He planted more than 50 lakh trees in the area.
“10 years ago, the Tree Man lost his eye sight. As mud would go into his eyes during the plantation activity. It did not deter him. Even without the help of his eye sight, he went on planting thousands of trees,” says son Santosh Swaroop Saklani. He works at the local Governor’s Office.
Tree Man Saklani forested a 100 hectare area
Almost single handedly, Tree Man Saklani covered more than a 100 hectare area in his village. Through planting trees such as rhododendron, guava, and many other fruiting trees during his life. When he started the planting initiative, the land was barren. But now it is a lush green forest today.
During his starting years, locals opposed the Tree Man as they believed that he was trying to take away their lands by planting trees in the area. His love for conserving the environment would never be forgotten by people of the district for many years to come, say the local people.
Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani’s second wife supported him in his love for trees during many years. The first wife passed away in 1958.
“Trees meant the world to him. He would say that trees were his family, his parents, his friends and even his world. He would not wish to see the world as for him every single tree had a world of its own,” says the 80 year old village woman. The forest planted by Tree Man Saklani has been named ‘Nagendra Dutt Saklani Van.’ After his elder brother, who was a freedom fighter too.
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