Books placed on a tree in Alipurduar are not just driving out drug addicts from a 109-year-old club ground, but also spreading the joy of reading.
Nimesh Lama, 25, an unemployed graduate from Kalchini, placed books on a Rain Tree, a species of a flowering tree in the pea family, on the European Club ground at Dima Tea Estate, around 30km from Alipurduar district.
Lama’s idea behind starting the open-air library was to clear the ground of drug addicts who would loiter in the area and also to spread the joy of reading.
According to Lama, he came up with the idea as he did not have the wherewithal to physically drive out the drug addicts.
“I did not have the physical ability or other means to chase the addicts out of the ground. I shared my idea to start a tree library with my friends. They appreciated it and helped me collect books as my finances are limited,” said Lama.
The plan worked. Even though Lama “opens” the library on Sundays, the initiative which started around two months back has pushed the drug addicts away from the club ground.
In the past, residents and even the administration had tried to drive away the drug addicts, but to no avail.
The club, which was set up by European managers of 13 tea gardens in 1913, was used to play golf.
Today there is no sign of the club building left. It had turned into a safe haven for drug addicts, said residents.
Things have changed now. Thanks to Lama, on Sundays the young and old visit the tree library and spend time reading the diverse collection.
The books include works in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali and English.
Lama, who has always loved books, said he “loves to spend his Sundays with books and book lovers”.
Apart from reading sessions, Lama organises recitations, plays, extempore events and debates on the ground.
The initiative is also attracting tourists.
Biswajit Saha, the owner of a lodge near Jaldapara, the wildlife sanctuary in the Dooars, said: “I take tourists to the tree library site. They appreciate Lama’s initiative.”