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Of nature trails and thrills

In 1995, Anand Pendharkar gave up his job as a freelance writer and part-time lecturer at various MBA institutes across India to start working towards saving the environment.

“Nature and environment have always been my favourite subjects,” says the 40 year-old, who set up SPROUTS (Society of Promotion of Research, Outdoors, Urbanity, Training and Social Welfare) 17 years ago. “I noticed that not much was being done about the environment in terms of saving it.


Participants enjoy a session of cycling at the Earth Mela last year

All the major environmental groups focused on the negative side or the ill effects of deforestation but nobody was looking for a solution. This urged me do something about it in a better, more positive way. SPROUTS organises a lot of nature trails and workshops that helps nurture the ecology in positive ways,” he tells us over a phone interview.

In 2008, Pendharkar began organising the annual Earth Mela — a platform where people could come together and talk about things related to the environment. “After the initial success of SPROUTS, I realised that we were only focusing on a privileged group of people who could afford our workshops.

With Earth Mela, I wanted to inform people about the various aspects related to ecology in a more holistic and affordable way and create a platform where people could celebrate nature.”

Earth Mela has an interesting line up of events such as a short film festival, a photo exhibition cum sale, workshops, nature trails, a bicycle rally and a mini-marathon.

Vivek Gilani, environment engineer and founder of No2co2 (.co.in), a website that offers sustainable alternatives to help reduce carbon footprints, heard Pendharkar in one of the environmental programs held by sprouts in Mumbai a year ago. “I think it is an amazing concept and I am very happy to contribute to it,” he says excitedly. “I am going to hold a special one hour lecture today at 4 pm on climate footprints and its implication on the environment that many people in India are not very well informed about.”

The event also showcases various stalls that sell eco-friendly fare. “I am going to hold a special stall that will comprise organic vegetables, vermi-composts, and organic sanitary pads,” says Ankush Vengurlekar, senior manager, Agri Business, Tilak Nagar Industries. Vengurlekar will also speak about organic farming today at 12 noon.

Pendharkar believes that instead of making tall claims on global warming, one should first start talking shorter steps in saving the environment. “I think it is high time that people take Mother Earth seriously. It is not a gift; it needs guardians to safeguard it,” he concludes.

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