JOURNEY OF A GREEN MIRACLE MAN
It was December 26th, 2004, Tsunami brought a massive disaster to 14 countries and about 2.5 lakh people lost their lives. Ocean earthquake and Tsunami perturbed conscience of Shri Dinesh Rawat. He was in Sri Lanka on that unfortunate day. Seeing the devastation, he understood that nature has given a warning that if human beings do not change the way they are conducting life, Global warming and climate change would result in more natural calamities.
His conscience was speaking loudly. He wanted to dedicate himself to bring in awareness amongst the people and inspire them to live in harmony with nature, but he was so deeply involved in his business of international trading that it was impossible for him to find time for any of the environmental activities.
But then nature provided him an opportunity in disguise. A major problem erupted with his bank and his business came to a grinding halt. Just within 8 months of Tsunami, he was compelled to shut down his business activities in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Singapore, and Bangladesh. He took this incident as a design of divine to bestow upon him a new assignment. He heartily accepted a new role in his life and started thinking of the ways and means to help and inspire people to go green and lead a life in harmony with nature and combat desertification with his small might.
His business of international trading had provided him with the opportunity to travel to over 60 countries. He made the best use of his travel by visiting all the leading botanical gardens and leading plant nurseries in countries like USA, UK, Australia Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. He received on-ground experience and training from expert botanists and curators which prepared him to share technologies and know-how with fellow Indians.
He discovered that in India of trees are cut down for construction of buildings, roads, and Infrastructures. He was unhappy with the situation. To save the trees from being fallen like this, he obtained training on the excavation of Big trees and palms, storing them and subsequently replants them at a desirable place. He demonstrated this technique of excavation and tree plantation to nurserymen, made video training presentation and distributed all over. His efforts helped to save thousands of trees from felling. Presently this idea about tree excavation and re-planting in India is practiced in large scale and many trees are saved every day.
He realized that he cannot do a genuine work of inspiring people to take actions to combat desertification by staying at his plush apartment in a multistory housing complex in the city. He moved to a village called Samukpota in the district of South 24 Parganas of West Bengal and started to work from ground level.
He observed that in India property owners and managers do not give much importance to landscaping with Palms. Palms are the best plant for the urban landscape. They are evergreen; they do not litter leaves and flowers like other trees, their root system is compact, and they do not disturb underground service lines like sewerage, gas line, electricity, and other pipelines. They are much disciplined and maintain symmetry. To make palms popular in India he imported about 200 types of palm seeds and started a Palm Seedling project at Samukpota, in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. Through this project, he distributed millions of Palm seedlings to nurseries all over India.
Thereafter, builders and landscapers realized the usefulness of palms in urban landscaping and palms have become an essential part of any landscape in India.
To provide impetus to use and cultivation of Palms he decided to write a handbook ‘PALMS FOR INDIA’ detailing uses of palms and its cultivation.
His exploring mind kept on areas of improvement all over. He noticed that in India, people are throwing away by-product of Coco fiber or using it for land filling. He wanted to educate people that this waste coco-dust has an excellent property of making the soil porous and maintain moisture in the soil. People just laughed at his suggestion. But he did not give up, he imported two containers of Coco Peat from Sri Lanka and used it in his own nursery. After seeing good results in practical, other nurserymen slowly but carefully started using Coco Peat and now it has become a household name, no one can think of any potted plant without coco peat!
It was essential that all the items required in greening homes, gardens and landscapes, lots of inputs are required and they are readily not available in the market. He decided to establish Green Mall on his prime land of 12 acres at Samukpota. Lots of business people suggested to him that his plot can be used for commercial construction, but Dinesh’s Idea was set up a facility which would make available everything for gardening including all types of plants at one campus. He wanted that this campus should not only provide all materials but a practical guide and inspiration for people to go green and combat desertification which is going on all over. Within this campus, he wanted to demonstrate creative ideas for gardening and landscaping. With a collection of 2500 types of plants and exclusive collection of palms, Green Mall was inaugurated on 27th February 2007. It is now the largest garden shop in India and providing a 360-degree solution to all.
In 2006 he visited Indian Botanical Garden Howrah with his Palm-Guru Michael Ferraro and was disappointed to find that they were left with a very poor collection of Palms. He submitted to them a plan for rejuvenation of palms. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Dinesh Rawat and Indian Botanical Garden, Howrah. Lots of palms species were given to the botanical garden. He observed that a rare palm Lodoicea maldivica was there in Palm House. It was not bearing any fruit for want of male pollen. With his efforts, this 125-year-old female palm was pollinated, and it is now bearing seeds.
He has a special affinity for the city of Kolkata since he is born and brought up here. He had a strong desire that Kolkata should become the greenest city with wisely planted avenue trees. He a survey of roadside trees of the city and submitted his findings and suggestions to the mayor of Calcutta in 2007 along with a plan which would make Kolkata a role model for other Indian cities.
He visualized that due to global warming and desertification; there would be a great potential business of grown-up trees and palms. India could become a supplier of big trees to the world. After thorough research and study he prepared a blueprint of a plan which would provide an additional source of income to 70% of Indians living in villages. India would emerge as the largest exporter of trees at the same time India would become the greenest country in the world. He submitted his study report and a plan “Let’s make India Green” to then Prime Minister of India in the year 2008.
To provide easy guidelines to those living in cities he compiled a handbook “Green Your Surroundings” which gave practical guidance about the selection of plants and their maintenance. The book has helped thousands to go green and live a clean and healthy life.
He was unhappy to observe that west Bengal Nursery industry was having a negative growth whereas States like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka were advancing a lot. He submitted a plan to the government of West Bengal in 2012 titled “Sobuj Sasnar” This plan had guidelines to make West Bengal a hub for Indian for gardening, landscaping and nursery industry.
From time to time he organized Green Day at Green Mall where prominent people are invited. They are given a live demonstration as to how they can green their surroundings and live happy and healthy.
He realized the increasing role of Social media in the daily life of people. In 2012 he formed an NGO under name and style of Prakiti Bandhu and created an online portal to inspire people to choose a lifestyle based on “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” its membership is free, and members relate to group discussions and e-newsletters.
Every year at the beginning of monsoon tree sapling donation camps are organized under Prakriti Bandhu trust, through which millions of tree saplings have been distributed so far to villagers of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.
With divine inspiration and guidance, he produced two audio albums with environmental songs titled “Prakriti Ki Pukar “& “Prakriti Vandana”. It is for the first time in the world that anyone has bothered to show love and regard to nature, and to inspire people from the bottom of their heart to green every part of India.
In 2013, he reinstated the devastated Panchwati garden at Dakshineswar Kali Mandir, a 175-year-old garden which was used by Sri Ram Krishna Paramhans for his meditations in 1865.
In 2015, he conceptualized “Green Paradise” a 100-acre campus which would be an eco-friendly inspirational world with an Institute to create 200 Green-Entrepreneurs, Green Memorial Park, Palm Grove, Fruit Orchard, Palm Collection, Utility Garden, Herbs & Spice Garden, Flowering Trees Lounge and a mangrove forest. This would have 214 farm houses where people would be able to grow their own organic fruits and vegetables. 300 school children would travel to this green paradise to get training and inspiration to love & respect nature.
In 2016 he realized that there is a tremendous potential of employment generation in the field of gardening and landscaping, all over India. He started Safal Jivan institute at Green Mall campus to train young generation to be green entrepreneurs, gardeners, landscapers, and nursery owners.
He has attended many International seminars and conferences like “Tropical Flowering Trees Seminar” in the USA and “International Palm Conference” in Thailand.
His journey continues with more zeal and enthusiasm. and he is about to complete two books titled “Importance of Palms in Landscape” and “Landscaping and Green Surroundings”
In 2019 he has been given Indian Flower and Plant Industry Award 2019 for “Best Palm Collection in India” for his rare and exotic palm tree collection.
The latest revolutionary gift to society by him is the conceptualization of an ultimate solution to people who desire to have green surroundings but find it difficult to succeed due to various obstacles. He has come up with “Ready Packages” for the roof-top terrace, balconies, gardens, indoor house plants, air-purifying plants, succulents, Vaastu plants, Feng Shui plants.
He is in the process of completing two useful books “Usefulness of Palms in urban Landscape” and “Green Surroundings and Landscape Guide” These handbooks would help people to create beneficial gardens and landscapes.
With the help and guidance of Divine, his journey into woods continues, he is dedicated to serving mankind and five elements of Nature with love and dedication.