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“We Don’t Need Diamond; We Need Life”

Pankaj Koranga, a freelance photographer and digital marketer, hails from Haldwani, Uttarakhand. He is a graduate from Chandigarh University. Passionate about nature and environment, Pankaj was concerned about the diamond mining in #Buxwaha forest in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, about 260 km northeast of the state capital of Bhopal. Pankaj and his partner Siddharth Mishra from Varanasi to show their solidarity with the #BuxwahaJungleBachaoAndolan embarked on a mission to spread the message to the larger audience of India by went on a cycling expedition. Here is an exclusive interview.

1. Tell about your expedition.

As a lover of nature and staunch believer in sustainable development, I was influenced by the cause of the “Buxwaha Jungle Bachao Andolan” that was the centrepiece of livelihood of around 7,000 villagers of the 17 tribal villages in the territory. To further spread the message of this Andolan, we started a 1,200 km of cycling expedition on 12th July 2021. I started from Haldwani and my friend from Varanasi. Our meeting was in Delhi. After meeting in Delhi, we further moved to Ladakh. We covered Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Ladakh.

2. What kind of response did you receive?

People were supportive; they gave us love and care. Throughout our journey, local people encouraged us for propagating the noble causes for the larger good of the country and citizens. Their encouragement gave us the strength to accomplish such a challenging expedition across the most difficult terrains of the world.

3. What message would you like to share with our readers on deforestation activism?

Recently, we are noticing a misplaced priority in the so-called developmental projects in India. In the name of development, we are recklessly expanding deforestation, distorting the ecological balance, aggravating the impact of climate change, increasing carbon footprint, stifling the livelihood of locals, and benefitting a limited few and dejecting millions of citizens. This is not the real development that our country requires. Real development is inclusive, sustainable, progressive, and eternal that goes together with the preservation of natural resources and progress of people in a well-balanced manner. In the context of the Adolan, I would accentuate we don’t need diamond; we need life.

4. What are your future projects? Just we have completed this in last month and we are planning to cover North East to integrate the cultural diversity and bring in a paradigm shift in narratives of regionalism that often build fault lines in national integration on the 75th year of Independence.

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