New Delhi: A 60-year-old environmental activist Wahid Sardar is on a mission to save trees across Bangladesh by removing nails that have been hammered in their trunks. Since July 2018, when he first started ‘nail-picking’, Sardar has removed nails from over 10,000 trees.
Nails are used to stick advertisements, political banners and sign boards among other things to the trees.
“When a nail is inserted in the trees, my heart feels the pain. The liquid that comes out of the trees because of that is its blood. The tree gets wounded and its blood infected and slowly it starts dying,” he said in a video posted by the Hindi division of German broadcaster DW.
बैनर और पोस्टरों के लिए पेड़ों में कील ठोंकना भारत, पाकिस्तान और बांग्लादेश में आम है. बांग्लादेश में 60 साल के बुजुर्ग अब तक 10000 पेड़ों के सीने से कीलें निकाल चुके हैं. #DWEcoFix pic.twitter.com/CI8y8pcT90
— DW Hindi (@dw_hindi) September 23, 2022
A mason by profession, Sardar believes that trees are his children and has worked relentlessly to take out nails buried in tree trunks. He began the mission in his own district of Jashore, and later expanded to Jhenaidah, Khulna and many others.
Through his work he hopes to make people aware of Bangladesh’s Graffiti Writing and Poster Sticking Control Act, 2012, according to which attaching advertisements and billboards on trees is illegal.
In addition to caring for existing trees, he has also been planting trees in his district with his own money from as far back as 2006. He has planted about 20,000 fruit and medicinal plants in his hometown of Jashore.
The activist has become a known figure over the years, brandished by some reports as an inspiration, “setting an example of what can be done on a personal level to save the environment”.
He was also recognised in the ceremonial speech of National Environment Award 2020, an event meant to felicitate outstanding contributiors to the development of Bangladesh’s environment.
Speaking at the event, Forests and Climate Change Minister, Md Shahab Uddin said, “Most of the people cut down trees indiscriminately for the sake of temporary benefits, but people like Wahid Ali Sardar are working to remove nails from thousands of trees because of his passion to trees.”
There is anecdotal evidence that the practice of nailing advertisements and posters hampers the “normal growth of trees” and causes some species to “die prematurely.”
It is a common practice in India and Pakistan as well.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)