On pedal to protect environment
Mangaluru: Age does not deter Anbu Charles from taking up social causes.
The exploits of the 59-year-old bachelor from Tamil Nadu may give the impression that he is a cycling enthusiast. Speak to him once and we will realize why he chose the bicycle, the humble mode of transport, to drive home messages on environment issues across India and even Nepal.
The native of Udupatti village in Namakkal district has set out to educate students and public about the need to protect environment. A post-graduate in sociology and a bachelor, Charles has pedaled on a voyage from the past 11 years on a gearless bicycle.
The tsunami in 2004 motivated him to travel the country.
He was recently in Mangaluru, the port city of Karnataka, on his way to Bhutan via Mumbai and New Delhi. He has visited nearly 20 states and covered approximately about 60,000 km on his bicycle.
Speaking to daijiworld, Anbu Charles said, “I am upset about the environmental scenario in the country. There is pollution everywhere. People are leading busy lives with no time for exercise which ultimately leads to diseases. Forget about exercise, they do not even walk.
“The world has already witnessed two world wars. The third world war might soon break out for water. If you observe closely, water and soil have turned poisonous. People are unaware about the need for water-harvesting. During my visit to different states, I interact with public, students and create awareness about environment protection and the importance of rain water harvesting,” he said.
“Today, most of the farmers are unaware about the importance of rain water harvesting. They focus on digging borewells for water. So it is neccessary to create awareness on the immediate need of rain water harvesting, especially in rural areas,” he stressed.
Charles said although the people of Mangaluru are educated, most have little concern for the environment.
“During my visit to Mangaluru, I interacted with the general public. Mangaluru is an educated city, but not so concerned about the environment. The city is filled with polythene bags and plastic bottles. Water and soil here are being polluted,” he said, adding that the people of Mangaluru need to ponder over this and take steps to keep their city clean and green.
“After Mangaluru, I will travel to Mumbai, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. I have visited 20 states including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Nepal, Chhattisgarh and Haryana till date on my bicycle. I have encountered several challenges in my tour from the past 11 years. I was even abducted by Maoists on the Bihar-Nepal border in 2007 as they suspected me to be a police informer. They had to release me after reviewing my documents and certificates,” he said.
When queried about how he manages his expenses for the tough tour, he said, “I manage my expenditure through support from public in providing lunch. During my visits to schools and colleges, the faculty offers me lunch. I prefer staying in temples, churches and mosques.”