successfully treated thousands of cleft-lip patients, including
the little waif Pinki Sonkar -- the lead character of
Oscar-winning documentary "Smile Pinki" -- a doctor here is now on
another noble mission: making the earth greener.
Subodh Kumar Singh, a noted plastic surgeon, gifts saplings to
patients visiting his hospital in the Mahmorganj area and makes
them aware about environmental issues.
"It's just around a couple of weeks ago I started offering
saplings to the patients visiting the hospital. It's a small
initiative aimed to make our mother earth and surroundings
greener," Singh, who established the G.S. Memorial Plastic Surgery
Hospital in 2001, told IANS on phone.
"Patients visit a doctor's clinic for healthy living. The
distribution of saplings amongst the patients and their families
has been initiated to serve the same purpose. Plantation is the
best way to nurture nature and mitigate environmental
degradation," he added.
His hospital, which has emerged as one of the finest centres for
cleft surgeries in the world, performs more than 3,500 surgeries
"I ask the parents to make a commitment that they would look after
the sapling in the same way they take care of their kids," said
"I wish more and more people are made aware about environmental
problems, so that they could become eco-conscious and contribute
their bit to the environment. I know the situation cannot be
changed overnight, but, don't forget, the journey of a thousand
miles begins with the first step," said Singh, who started the
saplings distribution July 15.
Singh's hospital, which is associated with Smile Train -- a
non-profit organisation with the mission of providing free
corrective surgery for children with cleft lip and palate in over
70 countries -- receives most patients from eight states of the
country -- Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West
Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.
"On an average, 25-30 patients visit the hospital every day. So,
as per an estimate, over 400 saplings have been provided to
patients and their families during the last few weeks," said an
official of the hospital.
Singh has also roped in various NGOs, clubs and people from
various walks of life for his initiative.
He is also planning to undertake a massive plantation drive Aug
"I have named it 'Freedom plantation drive', mainly for two
reasons. First, it would be launched on the Independence Day.
Second, the drive, to an extent, will provide us freedom from
pollution and other environmental problems," he said.
Meanwhile, locals have lauded Singh's efforts.
"First, he devoted himself to treatment of cleft-lip patients, and
now he has taken up an additional responsibility. It's
commendable," said Anshuman Rai, a science student of Banaras
Hindu University (BHU).
Rananjay Singh, a native of Varanasi's Lanka locality who works at
a nationalised bank, said: "We all need to take lessons from the
doctor...Most of us cite paucity of time as the reason for not
getting involved in a social cause, but Subodh should be a role
model for all us for shouldering this social responsibility
despite having a hectic schedule."
Srivastava can be contacted at email@example.com)