In India, one man defies tradition, plants forest
Nirakar Mallick, who is a harijan, battles tradition in his endeavour to green the coastal areas of Orissa’s Kendrapara district


ORISSA, India, May 19, 2003, Outlook: The harijans of Aliha village in Orissa have never been allowed to plant coconut trees. The belief here is that if a harijan plants trees, a death will occur in the community.

Nirakar Mallick, a harijan, decided to break this age-old stigma by planting thousands of trees along Orissa’s coast. Mallick was concerned about the state’s degraded coastline, which is often victim to either drought or floods. So he set about planting trees to prevent soil erosion along the coast and help tackle the problem of floods.

Thanks to Mallick’s efforts, a two-hectare plot of land on the banks of the river Brahmani that was devastated by the 1999 supercyclone, now supports more than 5,000 trees, and no one has died.

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