A group of 20 people,including 3 women,who have been on a foot march for 17 years to create awareness among youth for environmental conservation has arrived at Chandigarh.
Belonging to the Yuva Jagriti Jan Jagran Anterved Sewa Sansthan,a Lucknow based voluntary organization,the group started the pad yatra on June 15,1995 under the leadership of the eldest member,Awadh Bihari Lal,now 45,for world peace,mutual harmony,respect for all religions and a youth awareness campaign for environment protection. When I was 13 years old,there was a flood in my district and I was the only survivor in four villages. I called school children to join me in my initiative and dedicated myself to the cause, says Lal.
In four groups,the members cover at least 40 kilometers in a day and have covered 2 lakh and 500 thousand kilometers so far. They have vowed to carry on till they cover 3 lakh kilometers in the next five years and will then head back to Lucknow.
There the group hopes to run a university on the 1001 acres of forest land allotted to them by the Uttar Pradesh government,where economically disadvantaged children can enroll for free and complete their education from nursery class to college.
We see that drug addiction is a growing concern among youngsters. The administration is bound but we are apolitical and only concern ourselves to remedy the issues faced by public, says Jitendra Pratap,a member.
During the journey,the group admits that they face language problems,especially in interior regions,and in finding drinking water. They do not keep medicines on them and the danger of falling sick increases in the monsoon as they do not carry a change of clothes or shoes.
The group has visited countries like Bhutan,Bangladesh,Tibet,Pakistan,Nepal,China and Myanmar as a part of the world march. We saw that the Chinese have adopted some good aspects of our culture,like cultivating neem plant and gau mutra (cow urine) and are researching on them. On the other hand,we have let go of these traditions and they should be immediately revived, says Lal.