The transformation from Radhakrishnan Nair to R K Nair happened in 1999 when he became the manager of Right Choice Exports company. The company which began with 18 stitching machines expanded to 400 machines in four factories in 10 years. In 2009, he began to think of starting his own company. When he shared his dream with the owner of the Rights Choice company Abhishek Podhar, he gifted him 20 stitching machines. Today, Nair is owner of the company which own three factories with 400 machines.
Among the adivasis
Out of his 470 employees in the company, 45 percent are adivasis from Maharashtra and Gujarat. He always reserve 20 machines to train adivasis free of cost. So far, 16,000 women and girls were trained. Three training centres were established at different parts of Gujarat for this purpose. With this, he ensures decent job and wage for them. Adivasis who led a miserable life at their huts now live with dignity, Nair claims.
Roots that pierce rocks
R K Nair has developed a technique to plant trees on rocks. Saplings are planted 2 feet high by depositing soil on the rock at a distance of two feet. In the intial two and a half years, saplings are watered in morning and evening during summer along with organic fertilizer.
Mulch was applied at the foot of the saplings to retain moisture. As they age three years, the roots will grow piercing the rocks, said Nair.
Selection of saplings is done and the most common plants in the locality are picked. Now, Nair is planning to implement the same thing at his home in Kerala which has a large portion of rocky terrain and has only a banyan tree. He wishes to transform it into a kavu (sacred grove).
From toxic land to green forest
The Industrial park of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation at Tarapur had a four-acre land where chemical wastes are dumped. Envio Creators Foundation led by Nair decided to transform this area of toxic land into a green forest.
On November 5, 2016, the land was ploughed with earth movers and spread with organic fertilizer. 32,000 saplings of 38 varieties of trees were planted there and the land irrigated for two years.
Over hundreds of birds nested in the mini forest and three varieties of bees hived there. Many herbal plants grew without any human intervention. Birds brought the new seeds of variety of other trees from far away. The land wounded by toxic wastes dumped by human is now healed by trees, said Nair.
Besides this, Nair’s forestation was done at a half-acre landfill site in Vijayawada. He planted 6000 saplings of 150 varieties of trees to make a park.
According to Nair, a flowering plant in a pot on the courtyard is given water and fertilizer its entire life but we never get anything in return. But, if it’s a tree grown on the courtyard, give water and fertilizer for three years, it will give you clean oxygen, water, fertilizer and much more for its entire life, opines Nair.
Trees and employment guarantee scheme
Nair planted and nurtured trees in collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi employment guarantee scheme in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. In the name of Mahatma Gandhi Oxizone, 1,03,000 trees were planted in seven-acres at Pandripani and Jurida villages in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh. At the centre of this forestry, an artificial lake was also built in two-and-a-half acres of land. 60,000 trees are growing at Nimmakuru in Andhra Pradesh. Trees were planted in other parts of the state too.
His trees are growing at Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Vapi, Umargam, Bhavnagar and Hastagiri in Gujarat. Nair was invited by district collector Shammi Abid to plant trees at Juruda in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh.
There is no meaning in planting trees after killing the soil biodiversity. Soil is the life. Once the trees are grown, the soil will regain its life. It will attract birds, butterflies and bees. I have adopted the method of Japanese professor Akira Miyawaki, a specialist in the restoration of natural vegetation on degraded land, said Nair.
R K Nair is the founding president of Umargam Apparel Welfare Association and a member of the ICDS under textile ministry. In 2017, he was honoured by the Maharashtra government by awarding Vasundhara award. He was appreciated by Gujrat chief minister Vijay Rupani for forestation. For growing 5,50,000 trees in India, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by International Peace University of Germany.
48-years-old R K Nair was born to Periya natives Kunjambu Nair and Kamalakshi in Kasaragod district in Kerala and moved to North India to find a job at his young age. Gujarat native Anakha is his wife.