Felicitation For Sanctuary Project Leader
On 26 November 2018, Sanctuary's Mud on Boots Project Leader Sajal Madhu was honoured with the Neelkanth Samman in New Delhi. The award was bestowed upon him by Kabir Ke Log, a local organisation from Patna and Centre for Dalit Studies, India Foundation.
Like every year, Kabir Ke Log and NeCentre for Dalit Studies, India Foundation celebrated the anniversary of the adoption of the Indian constitution on the 26th of November. This year, 70 scholars, activists and social leaders were awarded the "Neelkanth Samman" at the event. Here, Sajal Madhu was recognised for his outstanding contribution towards a democratic ethos and constitutional commitment.
Madhu was awarded the Neelkanth Samman for his invaluable efforts towards protecting the people as well as the forests of Dharamjaigarh, Chhattisgarh. Apart from his consistent effort to mitigate human-elephant conflict through his 'Haathi Sabka Saathi' programme, he has fought against two open cast mines by leading a ground movement with farmers and locals under the banner "Bhumi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti". The collective filed a petition and fought a case against unethical land use by coal mining companies. Madhu has also been lobbying for the construction of sixteen eco-bridges for elephants on the proposed railway route from Kharasia to Dharamjaigarh which will cut through important elephant habitat. More than 8,765 trees have already been cut from the dense forests of Chhattisgarh for the railway line, including within protected forest areas. The case is still pending at the National Green Tribunal.
"I am only grateful towards Kabir Ke Log and Centre for Dalit Studies, India Foundation for choosing me for this prestigious award. I am a simple villager who has been fighting for protection of his land, forests and people, and I will try my best to minimise the human - elephant conflict situation in my state," said Sajal.
Sajal Madhu's work in Chhattisgarh is supported by Sanctuary Nature Foundation's Mud on Boots Project. "Sajal's resilience and commitment to his land and people is inspiring. We are proud to support his work and are thrilled that his contribution to social justice and conservation is being recognise at a national level," said Cara Tejpal who heads the Mud on Boots Project.