Dried water tables, abundant hospitality and other tales

Pedalling through: Philem Rohan Singh making a pit stop in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: Prashant Nakwe

A 24-year-old post graduate student from Noida is cycling across the country to promote the cause of water conservation, gathering insights and experiences along the way.

Philem Rohan Singh, a student of Sharda University, hails from Manipur. An orphan raised by his grandparents, Mr. Singh started on his journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on June 14, sponsored by his institute.

Mr. Singh has been an avid cyclist since he was in Class VII, and has completed four long-distance rides till date. “I didn’t want to be an engineer or a doctor or an IAS officer. What I did want to do was make a difference,” said Mr. Singh.

Apart from getting a sense of the water shortage and spreading awareness about conservation, Mr. Singh’s other objective was to meet various ethnic groups.

He has so far passed through Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Currently in Mumbai, he will proceed to Goa, Karnataka and finally Kerala, where he aims to terminate his journey within the next 25 days.

Mr. Singh’s journey has been a mixed bag of memories. For example, in Bihar, despite having heard stories about discrimination against people from the North East, he was welcomed warmly by associates of Rajesh Ranjan, better known as Pappu Yadav, a four-time MLA from the State.

“The last thing I expected was to be offered an extravagant meal at Mr. Yadav’s house, as my family members had warned me of racist tendencies in Bihar. On the other hand, in Ahmedabad, a man accused me of winking at his daughter while I was cycling past, because of my facial structure,” he said.

Apart from these experiences, his travels made Mr. Singh’s travels also made him realise the depth of water crisis in the country. “The government, surprisingly, has not taken any steps to manage water across all the States I have visited so far. All regions face a similar situation of severe water scarcity, including the outskirts of Chandigarh, which is said to be India’s best planned city,” he said.

In Mumbai for another four days, Mr. Singh will leave for Pune and then proceed on his journey.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 5:40:54 PM |

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