Srushti Paryavaran Mandal
Sampark, sahabhag, samvardhan or contact, contribute, conserve, are the three words on which the members of the Nagpur-based Srushti Paryavaran Mandal base their conservation ideology, writes Anirudh Nair.
Photo Courtesy: Srushti Paryavaran Mandal.
Hardened conservationists will often tell you that working together is always better than trying to be a heroic lone ranger. A conservation campaign is more like running a marathon rather than a 100-metre-dash, but it need not be a lonely battle if you can find like-minded individuals to work alongside.
In 2007, many non-governmental organisations raised opposition when the Adani Group was allotted a captive coal mine in Lohara village adjacent to the buffer zone of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra, a vital corridor for wildlife. Realising that these independent voices needed to be brought together, Srushti Paryavaran Mandal, a Nagpur-based NGO, invited other allies to come together, and formed a non-political platform under the banner ‘Ekjut’. These civil society members, politicians, scientists, wildlife experts and NGOs were able to convince the government to de-notify the block and safeguard the wildlife corridor.
It was a post-trek conversation under a tree at the Pench Tiger Reserve with Assistant Conservator of Forests L.D. Kolhe that inspired a motley group of wildlife enthusiasts to embark on the path that led them to start the Srushti Paryavaran Mandal. “He told us that everyone is attracted towards tiger conservation, but if we really wished to make a difference, we should work in places which are neglected, which do not receive funds and which require intervention. And he directed us towards a little-known wilderness area near Nagpur called Bor from where our journey truly began,” said Udayan Patil, one of the members.
Following a simple motto – sampark (contact), sahabhag (contribute) and samvardhan (conserve) – Srushti Paryavaran Mandal was formally registered in 2005. With a collective strength of more than 50 members and their associates, the group now works to protect the wildlife of central India by providing assistance to government and private organisations.
One of the first projects they took up was the construction of inverted earthen dams on streams in Bor after realising that the sanctuary severely lacked any water conservation measures. As a result of their efforts, waterholes in Bor could be recharged until April, a marked difference from previous years when the water supply would run out by January. They assisted the Forest Department in the construction of more such dams, and today, these perennial waterholes see animal activity even in peak summer.
When the process to declare Bor Sanctuary as India’s 47th Tiger Reserve was underway, Srushti Paryavaran Mandal played an instrumental role in the preliminary survey of surrounding areas to identify forest compartments which could be included in the expansion of the Sanctuary. A two-member team along with local forest guards walked through the compartments to understand ground realities, and their inputs were crucial to preparing the final proposal for the tiger reserve.
The diverse background of their members, who are engineers, doctors, lawyers, IT professionals, contractors and consultants, has proven to be a valuable asset, and wildlife experts, naturalists, and veterinarians, who have joined them off late, have enabled them to fill the lacunae they previously faced in providing scientific expertise, thus widening their scope of work.
Presently focusing on projects in and around Nagpur district, members of Srushti believe in providing 360 degree solutions to conservation issues. “Instead of pointing out faults within the system, we work towards identifying the reason for a particular problem and then try to find a solution. In most of the projects we undertake, we usually conduct a pilot to check its feasibility and then let the authorities take it over,” said Swanand Soni, founding member of Srushti Paryavaran Mandal. More strength to their crew!
Contact: Srushti Paryavaran Mandal – 101, West Park Road, Dhantoli, Nagpur – 440 012, Maharashtra, India.