Charity begins at home, and so does change. A 32-year-old resident of SG Impressions has made it his life mission to make Raj Nagar Extension, his neighborhood, a green haven in the concrete jungle of over 35 high rises.
The harsh reality of living amidst towering high rises, where finding an open green space is a rarity, prompted Ruchin Mehra to bring about a change, when he shifted here five years ago.
"I was appalled to see tall buildings lined alongside the four-lane highway but not a single tree shade to give a moment of peace to passers-by. There's no public park in the vicinity as well," Ruchin said.
"It’s unjust that our kids have no open areas to play and enjoy the blessings of nature. I wish they could have the same childhood that I had – playing in open, running around and learning so much from the nature. With this resolve, I started my mission,” he added.
Ruchin is on a mission to plant a sapling, which he fondly calls “one tree every day.” Till date, he has planted over 1,700 saplings. He started his mission on January 2015 and since then, he has tried not to miss a single day, except a few.
"We humans are social animals. There are weddings, untoward incidents and other social responsibilities, which we can't ignore. So yes, I missed a few days. However, I have always compensated,” he explains proudly.
When he misses a day, he either plant saplings in advance or later when he comes back. His friends and family also help out.
“But my work doesn’t end with plantation. It begins with it. I every day water my plants and check whether their tree guards are in place," he adds.
Ruchin’s father and children from his society also happily support him. “It's so satisfying to see younger generation respecting and protecting nature. I urge all parents to encourage their children to plant saplings,” he advised.
However, he feels that his mission needs more manpower so as to achieve anything substantial. "I am trying to add like-minded people and push my mission with more vigour," he said.
Ruchin takes tuition classes and is also studying law. But his love and passion for environment and wildlife supersedes everything.
Just recently, he had helped rescue of a Langoor held captive in his neighbouring society.
"Wildlife and a healthy environment are inter-related and one can’t survive without another. And trees play the most important role in all this. I love to read about different types of trees and their productivity, utility and suitability as per soil and location,” he added.
So, what fueled his passion towards environment? “I get it from my father as we both share love for wildlife and nature,” he answered.
To this, his father added proudly, “I’m proud of my son. It was just an interest for me but he has turned it into his passion.”
What can residents do?
“They can at least plant one tree in front of their house or neighborhood and take care of it. Ghaziabad has a population of more than a crore. If every resident can follow this simple step, we will have more than a crore tree and climate would be much better," he said.
"If you don’t have space in the society, plant on the roadsides but please plant," Ruchin appealed adding “Try to plant fruit-bearing saplings as they are more beneficial for the ecosystem."
But he does have one grudge. “I don’t like it when people call taking care of environment or planting trees as activism. It is our responsibility, our payback to nature for what we have exploited for years. It is our duty and responsibility to leave this world worth living for our future generations. Planting saplings is our only chance at fighting the brutal effects of climate change,” he concluded.