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A 13,000-kilometre walk for environment

Mechanical engineer Arun Mittal is currently on a pan-India walk to raise awareness about global warming. NT BUZZ catches up with him on his stopover in Goa

CHRISTINE MACHADO

Haryana born Arun Mittal has been passionate about the environment since his college days, planting saplings when he could and working with local NGOs. But Mittal wanted more people to be involved in this mission to save planet earth. “In Delhi especially, the pollution levels have become critical. And it’s not just India; this is a topic that is important all around the globe. In fact in some places, they have started selling air!” says Mittal.

Thus in a bid to educate people before it is too late, Mittal decided to go on a pan-India walk. “I had been planning this walk for the past one year but I had to delay it after my mother expired,” he says.

Also, not everyone believed that such a thing was doable. “People told me it was impossible. India was so vast. They couldn’t understand my vision,” he says.

Mittal finally began his walk on September 14, 2019 from Delhi. Since then, he has walked through nine states (Jammu, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra) before reaching Goa.

“I chose to walk as I want my message to reach the maximum number of people, and walking is the best way to do this. Also, walking is a good exercise not just for physical fitness but also for mental fitness and I want to promote this too,” he says, adding that he has to change his shoes every 500 kilometres or so. He also schedules days of rest in between, to prepare him for especially arduous walks.

During his journey so far, he has planted approximately 500 trees. “I also visit schools and colleges and conduct seminars to create awareness about global warming and the need to plant more trees,” he says, adding that he usually rests near religious places or gets shelter with the support of the locals of the area. “Walking through forests is the more challenging part as you have to walk through the dark, you can’t stop, as there’s always the danger of encounters with wild animals,” he says. Sometimes, he adds, he has to carry on walking for long distances without food. “My target is to complete this walk by December 2020,” he says, adding that he has found good support from people in every state. At times people also join him to walk for distances of two to five kilometres, “I have found support 99.9 per cent of the time,” he says. And while he has observed that there are definitely people who are working for the betterment of the environment, including in Goa, he says, there is a need for more people to join the movement. “I would say that 20 per cent of the people are connected to the environment. My campaign is to get the maximum number of people onboard,” he says.

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