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Nature’s advocate Mike Pandey
Nature’s advocate Mike Pandey

On the occasion of World Environment Day, noted environmentalist Mike Pandey speaks out

On the occasion of World Environment Day, the first Eco Warrior awards were given away. Instituted by Earth Matters Foundation, its CEO, noted environmentalist Mike Pandey, talks about how the idea is different. Excerpts from an interview:

What is the criterion for the awards?

The Eco Warrior awards are in recognition of selfless individuals who are committed to the cause of restoring the earth’s delicate balance. They are role models who have gone beyond the call of duty and whose commitment to conservation has translated into action at the grassroot level. For the first time the common man is being recognised. From the “Glacier Man” who has been building artificial glaciers in Ladakh to a bus conductor for planting 38000 trees over the past 26 years, from an IFS official who worked courageously in protecting the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve to a 60-year-old who is spreading the message of whale shark protection and from a class IX student propagating the message of conservation by making drawings and greeting cards to Bollywood star John Abraham, a campaigner for the setting up of an elephant home in Maharashtra.

What are the Foundation’s activities?

It has been disseminating information on conservation and protection of the environment and natural resources and thereby sensitising students, the youth, citizens in general and local communities and stakeholders in the case of specific regional environmental concerns. This has been possible due to direct interaction such as through workshops as also the screening of wildlife films and the informative and thought-provoking weekly tele-series “The Earth Matters” beamed by the Doordarshan.What has been its impact?

Thanks to “The Earth Matters” series 146 nature clubs have been formed across the country voluntarily by the viewers. In fact, the Eco Warrior awards have been instituted inspired by the tremendous response to Earth Matters.

People need to be sensitised and “Earth Matters” is making a difference because it is put together in a way that is understood and the message is easy to sink in. I am grateful to Doordarshan.

Viewed in 130 countries, the popular programme was awarded the international Golden Giraffe Award at France, for the series has created a movement across India and reached with information where none existed.

It has been instrumental in spreading awareness about several environmental issues and their impact on human health, the social and cultural issues surrounding our environment and the urgency of conservation. The episodes also offer a fascinating panorama of wildlife in their natural habitats.

What is the role of government in conservation? While legislation is needed, conservation changes take place only when the people get to know, think and react positively.

Besides creating awareness through its various programmes, the Earth Matters Foundation also has a resource and documentation centre and is involved in activities such as creating a home for the elephants in Maharashtra, working with the salt workers in Gujarat, and water conservation in Himachal Pradesh, etc.

The shape of things to come with the awards?

An all-women list will form the next round of awardees.

The unsung, tireless conservationists.

N. KALYANI

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