Shekhar Gaikwad

Nashik based Shekhar Gaikwad is into the fabrication business, but his passion for the environment encourages him to water all the plants along the streets from 6-9 am daily. He has also planted more than one lakh native plants so far across the city. Gaikwad not only plants saplings but also takes it upon himself to water them and nurture them until they are full-fledged trees. Initially, he spent Rs 10,000 each month from his own pocket for his conservation activities, because there were no funds coming his way. He launched the NGO Apla Paryavaran to not only protect trees, but also the mountains and rivers. In 2014, he led a citizen initiative opposing attempts to build new bathing ghats along the Godavari for Kumbh mela, saying the ecology and the course of the river should be maintained.

As part of the Vanrai and Devrai projects, he is reviving dead forests that belong to the government. The Devrai project began in June 2015 and as part of this project, he planted 11,000 trees so far. The Devrai project also includes 10 acres of wild climbers. He says there is very little awareness on the role of climbers in sustaining biodiversity.

The Vanrai project began a year later on June 5, 2016, and he has planted 5,300 trees so far, taking the total number of trees under this project to 8,500. The expenditure on the two projects reaches Rs. 65,000 per month.

Gaikwad dedicates his entire weekend tending to the trees and raising awareness among the people. His volunteer base comprises school and college students, businessmen, retired people and housewives.

People like Gaikwad are an inspiration for the world. He works not for awards or accolades but only to sustain the biodiversity around him. His dedication is such that he continued his date with the trees even when his family members were critically ill.

BFS salutes Shekhar Gaikwad for his untiring efforts to preserve the environment and raise awareness of the need to do so.