Meet the autorickshaw driver who helped plant over 23,000 trees in Palakkad

Autorickshaw driver Shyam Kumar is a passionate reader and environmentalist. Carrying over 10 litres of water in his rickshaw every day, he nurtures the trees he planted across Palakkad.

Shyam Kumar is an autorickshaw driver who hails from Thenkurissi, Palakkad in Kerala. However, his passion lies in reading books and saving the environment.

After chancing upon a book called ‘Vrukshayurvedam,’ he learnt about the various benefits of trees and the difference it can make to the lives of children. So, he decided to do his part by planting a large number of trees.

“I have been on this mission for the last 18 years, and my wife and son are also part of it. Inspired by us, people have planted more than 23,000 saplings in all these years, and 90 percent of them have turned into big shade-giving and fruit-bearing trees,” Shyam told The Hindu.

Renowned for being the ‘forest minister’ in his social spheres, Shyam has received over 10 awards, including the Haritha Vyakthi Award of the Kerala State Bio-Diversity Board. He was also selected for the 23rd PV Thampy Memorial Endowment Award for Environment Protection in memory of journalist and environmentalist PV Thampy, which will be conferred later this month.

Apart from planting trees, Shyam is also helping the plant grow through drip irrigation. For this, he has placed a plastic bottle at the base of every plant. In fact, he always carries at least 10 litres of water in his rickshaw to water his plants.

Shyam Kumar (Image: The Better India)

The backside of his rickshaw has a Malayalam writing that reads, Maram Oru Varam,’ which translates to ‘Tree is a blessing.’

Besides being an ardent plant lover, Shyam is also interested in birds. “The premises of my house look like a mini bird sanctuary. Palakkad is a very hot place, especially in the summers when the temperature soars beyond 40 degree Celsius,” he told The New Indian Express.

“Besides birds, animals like snakes, mongoose, etc., come seeking water to quench their thirst,” he added.

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Edited by Suman Singh


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