Unsung Indian Heros of climate change

Years of negligence have brought us to the time when climate and environmental issues cannot be overlooked anymore. After United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, dozens of promises were made by governments, businesses, and civil society. While these conferences happen yearly, there are people who have dedicated their lives to serve the Mother nature, environment and the climate. While 16-year-old Greta Thunberg is making headlines with her activism for climate change, ObserveNow brings to you Indian environmental activists who have worked and are working very hard to protect mother nature. 


Here are few Indian Environmentalists who have been silently working for the environment: 

 

1. SAALUMARADA THIMMAKKA

 

Also known as Aalada Marada Timakka, she is known for her work in planting and tending to 385 trees along a four-kilometer stretch of highway between Hulikal and Kudur. She has also planned nearly 8000 other trees. She has also been involved in other social activities like constructing a tank to store rainwater. 


Interesting fact - Saalumarada who was awarded the National Citizen’s award of India and with Padma Shri in 2019, received no formal education and used to work as casual labor. 

 

2. JAMUNA TUDU - Jamuna Tudu formed ‘Van Suraksha Samiti’ along with 5 other women to prevent illegal felling of trees near her village. She saved 50 hectares of forest from demolishing and united 10,000 women to protect wildlife and trees. She is awarded Padma Shri and was the winner of the women transforming India awards in 2017. 

Interesting fact - She is famously called as ‘Lady Tarzan’ for taking on the Timber Mafia in Jharkhand. She has also convinced her villagers to plant trees on the birth of every child.

 

3. JADAV PAYENG - Jadav Payeng spent 30 years of his life planting trees to save his island, creating a forest and restoring wildlife in it. He created a man-made forest of 550 hectares. He has planted trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra and has successfully turned it into a forest reserve. He is known as the ‘Forest Man of India’ and was conferred with Padma Shri in 2015. 

Interesting Fact - This forest Reserve is also called ‘Molai Forest’ based on Jadav’s other name ‘Molai’. Molai Forest is home to Rhinoceros, Bengal Tiger and a variety of other wildlife creatures. 

 

4. M. YOGANATHAN 

Known as the ‘Tree man of India’,  Yoganathan has planted over 3 lakh saplings in 32 districts across Tamil Nadu over the last 30 years. He usually works with school and college children in creating awareness about the hazards of felling.


Yoganathan fought against the timber mafia in the Nilgiris, back when he was in school. He urged the authorities to take action against the offenders by pasting handmade posters. He has received the CNN-IBN Real Heroes Award and Suttru Sudhakar Sevai Veerer by the Tamil Nadu government.

Interesting Fact - Yoganathan is a government bus conductor who spends 40% of his salary towards buying saplings and educating children. On Mondays, when it’s his off day, you will find him planting trees in a school or a college.

 

5. TULSI GOWDA - At 70, it’s been more than six decades that Tulsi Gowda has been selflessly contributing towards the environment. She has planted more than 1 lakh saplings to prevent the fertile land from turning into barren. Joining the forest department at a very young age and retiring after 14 years hasn’t changed anything for Tulsi as she still manages to nurture and plant trees in her surroundings. She is the recipient of the Indira Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra Award, Kavita Memorial Award and many others. 


Interesting Fact - Although Tulsi hasn’t received any formal education, she possesses immense knowledge about different species of plants and herbs. Her vast knowledge on uses of plants and nurturing them has astonished almost everyone who knows her including the forest officials.

 

SPECIAL MENTION- 

While the world is praising the 16 year old climate activist, Greta Thunberg whose UN speech recently got viral, it’s time India knows it’s own Greta Thunberg.


RIDHIMA PANDEY - 

Only 11, she was one of the 16 children including Thunberg who filed a complaint to protest against the lack of government action on the climate crisis in the United Nations Climate Action Summit, this year. 


In 2017, when Ridhima filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the government was when she hit the headlines. She claims the government has failed to take action against climate change and mentions her concern over environment degradation in the country. She has called on a full ban on plastic and also questions the government to take action for the cleanliness of the river Ganga. 

 

This is the time when climate and environmental degradation cannot be ignored anymore. India needs to know about the people who have been working so hard for the betterment of nature and we need to join them now. All of us have to take immediate steps to save our environment and climate. After all, great things never come from comfort zones.

 

 

Author - Anusha Bhat. 23, New Delhi

 

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