Dukhu Majhi, an environmental activist hailing from Sindri village in West Bengal’s Purulia district, has been cultivating a love for planting saplings since his early years, mirroring his father's influence.
Engaging in tree planting activities across various locations such as rural markets, bus stands, roadsides, crematoriums, temple areas, school premises, and health centers, the 78-year-old, affectionately known as ‘Gachh Dadu,’ aims to provide shade and shelter to passersby.
Additionally, Majhi strategically plants fruit-bearing trees like mangoes and blackberries to offer sustenance to birds, animals, and travelers.
Despite facing financial constraints and leading a modest life, Majhi persists in his unwavering dedication.
Notably, his unique approach to safeguarding the saplings he plants involves constructing fences using burnt wooden logs or discarded clothes from crematoriums, materials considered untouchable due to superstitions among poor villagers.
Filmmaker Somnath Mondal was inspired by Dukhu Majhi's story, leading to the creation of the documentary film, ‘Rukhu Mati Dukhu Majhi.’
This environmental documentary earned the 2023 National Film Award, shedding light on Majhi's simple life and innovative tree protection methods, ultimately raising awareness about the crucial role of trees in ecological balance.
Despite being a Padma Shri awardee and gaining national recognition, Majhi, a tribal environmental activist, expressed surprise at the honor. His passion for tree planting, fueled by a foreigner's warning about future oxygen scarcity, has become the mission of his life.
The Padma Shri award has only fortified his commitment to continuing his tree planting efforts in Purulia, where he has dedicated the past 12 years to this cause.
Majhi's neighbors in Sindri, witnessing his achievements, feel joyous. Initially met with skepticism when he embarked on his tree planting mission over a decade ago, Majhi's determination earned him the moniker 'tree-freak' among his neighbors, empowering him to persist despite challenges and ultimately reaching great heights.