Elderly gardener offers plant specimens to free environment of pollution

Sher Alam Shinwari

PESHAWAR: An elderly gardener has been offering specimen of different flowering and fruit plants to people with an objective to free environment of toxic pollution and raise awareness regarding among masses the significance of plants for life on earth.  He has been running a charity nursery for the seven years along bank of a canal in Gulbahar No 2, Peshawar with an aim to turn Peshawar again into a city of flowers and also to free the environment of pollution filled with poisonous gases and other pollutants.  

According to the elderly gardener, he has distributed around 30, 000 specimen of fruit and flowering plants since 2016 and also has gifted away about 2,000 plant samples to a Government High School for Deaf and Dumb in Gulbahar No 2.  He said it was everybody’s duty to Sufi Pir Misal Shah Naqeebi, 69, resident of Shabqadar and a staunch devotee of Rahman Baba was born with love for nature and his parents motivated him further to take care of plants and never get indulged in polluting environment. He said after completing education he joined Education department and set two targets in life, one was to educate students to safeguard the environment and second was to keep relating himself to spiritualism.  

“I am not doing something new. I was graduated in Physical Education and it had been my duty to impart physical, mental and spiritual training to my students, also I used to train them on clean and green environment. I got retirement in 2013 as a Physical Education director, I wrote down a book in Urdu on the hazards of environmental pollution and distributed its free copies to schools in and around Peshawar city” Mr Naqeebi narrated.  

Mr Naqeebi while recalling the background said that in fact the bank canal was an even place where heroin addicts used to gather and also land grabbers tried to encroach upon it. He said that after retirement from the service he along with his followers thought to kill two birds with one stone, began leveling the uneven mound along the bank canal and also launched Sufi teaching to the heroin addicts to give up the bad habit.  

It took him three years to prepare the land for plantation and then turned it into a charity nursery. His efforts he said bore fruit. He said, also he had hired an expert to guide him on planting trees especially flowering and fruit bearing specimens. He said he had set up two green houses and arranged for water supply on his own expenses.  

“I got enough experience from him and then guided my own volunteers to grow Red Rose, Arabian Jasmine , White Jasmine, Yellow Jasmine, White cestrum, Yellow cestrum,  Purple cestrum, Tulip, Plum, China Rose, Oleander, and Coral tree.  The project became so successful that people from across the KP turned up for specimens of plants. I gift it only to teachers and students with instructions to take care of the plants and make their environment green and clean,” the mendicant explained.  

Prof Khalid Khan, an expert on plantation told this scribe that plant cabs were rightly called the lungs of the environment because our lungs oxygenated our bodies, similarly plants oxygenated the air.  He added teachers and religious clerics should instill the spirit of green environment and raise awareness among students about the plantation of fruit and flowering plants. “Plants and trees reduce pollution to a great extent and it is quite true that green can clean,” he said.

Arif Gul, 40, a volunteer working with Pir Misal Shah Naqeebi said that eight years ago he along with four other drugs addicts used to come place now a charity nursery and consume heroin and marijuana. He said that Mr Naqeebi taught us and compelled us to give up drugs abuse and also made us work in the garden. “Since then we have been doing wages, reconnected with our families and also pick out time to help our spiritual guide.  We found a spiritual solace in spreading the message of green and clean environment,” Mr Gul maintained.  

Pir Misal Shah Naqeebi said that canal bank was government’s property and a few days ago, officials of the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) had visited the charity nursery and encouraged him a lot. “The officials provided two young gardeners and also pledged that they would build a running track round the garden where the city residents would enjoy the run inside the garden,” he said.

The elderly gardener said he had planned to spread his message of pollution free environment to other districts including Charasadda, Nowshera, Mardan and other parts of Peshawar where his old students and disciples would open similar charity nurseries. He said the message of great Rahman Baba too was ‘Kar Da Gulo Karra Che Seema De Gulzar Shee’ (Grow flowers so that your area may get enough greenery).  “I would continue to spread Baba’s universal message,” he pledged.  

Prof Rahman Ali, an educationist in Peshawar told that the charity nursery was a wonderful idea and the education department in collaboration with other relevant departments should bound schools and colleges to submit an annual report regarding the green environment and also encourage students and teachers to float the concept of green and clean Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on practical grounds.  

Mr Ali suggested that a cash award and commendation certificate should be set up for those students and faculty members who participated in such health activities. He said that a group of students should be instructed to take care of a particular part of the school garden or plants.  

“At least one school assembly should be dedicated to debates and other different kinds of activities where students and guest speakers should demonstrate, or deliver sermons on the significance of pollution free environment. Practical activities should be arranged in which plants, flowers and air should talk to humans through a dramatic presentation, or storytelling,” Mr Ali advised.  

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