Thinking about working as an environmentalist and actually being an environmentalist are two very different things. While we rest or crib about the happenings in the environment, some people move out of their comfort zone and work on it. Some people have devoted their precious time to save our cherished environment. Here is a list of a few environmentalists who have made a tremendous impact on us by protecting the environment:
1. Gaura Devi
The powerful chipko movement which started in 1974 is well known to everybody as it is taught in schools. Everyone knows the leader Sunderlal Bahuguna, but no one remembers the female leader Gaura Devi, the head of Mahila Mangal Dal, at the Reni village. She contributed equally to save the trees. When loggers came to cut the trees and 27 other women, she tried to convince them otherwise. But when she failed, all the women hugged the trees overnight till the lumbermen had to surrender and leave the place. This news spread in the nearby villages, and several other women came forward for the same act.
2. Ajay Awasthi
A social worker from Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, works for spreading awareness among people about health, environment and education. He is the NGO Global Village founder and organizes workshops and seminars in school to spread awareness to the future citizens about Agenda 21. He also worked to curb the scarcity of water in Khajuraho by a rainwater harvesting system. Along with this, he made many documentaries and films, such as Parivartan and Utthan, based on women’s empowerment.
3. G.D Agarwal
Dr. GD Agarwal is known for stopping damming of the river Bhagirathi. 6 hydroelectric power plant dams were about to be installed on Bhagirathi river. He campaigned to protect the river Ganga by maintaining the uninterrupted flow of Bhagirathi River between Gangotri to Uttarkashi. He commenced his fast on 13 June 2008 and kept it until 30 June 2008 in Uttarkashi. “The water …(of the Ganges) is not ordinary water to a Hindu. It is a matter of life and death of Hindu faith”, said Dr. Agrawal.
4. Kinkri Devi
An Indian environmentalist who did not know how to read or write is known for starting a war in Himachal Pradesh on illegal mining and quarrying. She went on a hunger strike outside the court for 19 days, compelled the court to terminate the pass on mining, and imposed a blanket ban in 1987. Hillary Clinton invited her to Beijing to speak about her efforts and how a common man can make a huge impact.
5. M. Yoganathan
A bus conductor by profession is well recognized for planting lakhs of trees around Tamil Nadu. In his leisure time, he visits schools to teach the students about environmental conservation. In the last 25 years, he planted 50,000 tree seedlings single-handedly. For his extraordinary effort as an environmentalist, he has been awarded Eco-Warrior Award by the Indian Government.
People like these are an inspiration to us, and they teach us that even an ordinary person can make an enormous change and save the environment if they have a clear vision.