The unique forest, inaugurated on Friday, is being developed on a four-acre property owned by Sachin at Mundaje village in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district.
The farmer told TOI, “Each sapling is dedicated to the 527 soldiers who died in the conflict between India and Pakistan in July 1999”.
The saplings were planted by his mother Latha G Bhide and nine retired army officers from Ex-servicemen Association, Belthangady.
The park is also a tribute to his father, Ganesh M Bhide, whose death anniversary was observed on Friday.
The Indian Army declared the mission successful on July 26, 1999; since then the day has been celebrated annually as Kargil Vijay Diwas.
Several instances inspired Sachin to develop a forest. “I remember my father asking me to deposit money to the PM’s Fund in 1999. After the war, I attempted Army exams twice. In 2008, I had visited the Kargil war memorial and during my Amarnath Yatra in 2003, I saw thousands of central armed forces and state police personnel deployed to provide security to pilgrims from potential terror threats. This inspired me to do something for the soldiers. This is also an attempt to encourage local youth to join the army, “ he said.
Meanwhile, he has pledged never to chop the trees. “Each tree is dedicated to the soldiers who laid their lives for the country.” He has planted mahogany, teak, jackfruit, gooseberry, and other native saplings that will attract birds and animals.
Environmentalist Dinesh Holla, said, “When people only think of commercial crops, Sachin Bhide surprised us when he decided to convert rubber plantation into a forest and dedicate the same to soldiers. Whenever he gets to hear about the death of a soldier, he has decided to plant a sapling in that soldier’s name. In case it develops well, in the next five years we will have a model forest. Retired ex-servicemen have assured support by visiting the place regularly. He is a true inspiration, “ he said, appreciating Bhide’s conservation work.