Mahesh Shevade, an auto-rickshaw driver from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, finds his reserve of strength by nurturing and donating saplings for free. The 42-year-old believes that the planet can be saved by planting trees.

When on duty, he is always on the lookout for seeds and waste bags to collect. Whenever he goes to stops like Deokar Panand, Rajarampuri, Circuit House, Line Bazaar and Nagala Park, he collects seeds from beneath the trees.

After collecting the seeds, he nurtures and looks after them until they can be transferred to small bags. Several boys from his rickshaw stand also help him with this activity of growing the saplings, and ensure adequate supply of water and fertilisers.

Mahesh gives these saplings to people who ask for it. He doesn’t charge anything for the saplings, as he says “It is for nature”. “Earlier, I used to keep an account of the number of saplings delivered, but I have stopped doing that now, because anyway I don’t charge any money for the same.”

With a smile he says, “It doesn’t require money to do this activity. It just requires dedication of a few minutes daily.” More than 8,000 saplings have been donated till date. In 2010 and 2012, he donated several saplings to Walawalkar High School. He keeps donating to several organisations and schools. Mahesh said that in April 2017, he donated 500 saplings to the Kolhapur Forest Department.

Talking about the reason behind this social service, he says, “The planet is heating up, and everybody should do something to solve this crisis. Everybody should plant four trees, be it at home or office, and carry a bottle of water for the plants and trees.”

Mahesh has been an auto-rickshaw driver for more than 20 years now. He collects seeds while he awaits his turn in the rickshaw stand queue for passengers. Some of the saplings he has delivered include cashew nut, almond, sugar-apple, jackfruit, mango, lemon, sacred fig (pimpal) and basil. Whenever Mahesh finds even a minute free, he rushes to his saplings and makes sure they are receiving proper care.