Express News Service

PATNA: In a one-of-its kind campaign, the district administration of East Champaran in Bihar has traced over a thousand old trees and rechristened them as ‘Guardian Trees’.

Believed to be between 70-400 years old, these trees are being protected under people’s initiative called ‘Save Our Guardian Trees’.

The programme helps display the social, historical, local grandeur and association of these trees with the community through signboards. These details are also uploaded on a specially-designed app ‘Paryavaran Prahari’.

All these trees, including a 400-year-old Banyan tree, were left in utter neglect for the last several decades in the interiors of the district till DM of East Champaran Sirshat Kapil Ashok launched this campaign to trace them through community participation. 

Locals are now seen drawing rangolis, watering and cleaning the premises surrounding these trees. 

A team of local residents has been formed at the initiative of district magistrate and the MNREGA Program officers (POs) to take care of these ‘Guardian trees’.

There are 1450 such trees in 27 blocks of East Champaran. 

The campaign that began on June 11 this year saw even school students participate in it. 

According to DM Sirshat Kapil Ashok, one of the oldest trees at Mirpur pokhar has been in existence since the British era. “Now, an MNREGA park is being developed around this,” the DM said, adding that another Banyan tree believed to be more than 100-years-old, has been traced under Mehasi block.

A colossal tree of Pipal in the premises of district collectorates was first identified as more than 80-years-old.

Amit Kumar Upadhayay, District Program Officer (DPO) of MNREGA in East Champaran said that a 400-year-old Banyan tree at Sonvarsa village under Harsidhi block has been identified and protected with the support of the locals. Upadhayay said that all trees have now been given geo-tags through ‘Paryavaran Prahari’ app. The app provides complete description of trees including their age, girth, scientific and local names.

Raghunath Sahni,75, said that the Banyan tree is worshipped as local deity called ‘Kalishewari Maa Asthan’ by locals. The district administration under the MNREGA scheme has started strengthening the roots with soil work and making concrete platform keep the tree protected. Another Banyan tree has been identified in Dhaka block, under which shadow, labourers during the British rule used to take shelter.

A signboard has been put near each guardian tree and an oath by the members of “Sanrakshak- Mandal” (members of local community) is taken to protect these age old trees.