The cycle rally makes its way through Jamshedpur’s Jubilee Park. (Bhola Prasad)
Ten days, more than 1,100km of hostile terrain and a merciless summer sun beating down at more than 45°C were not enough to deter four cyclists pedalling for a green cause.
Three teenagers from the state — Jitu Hembrom (18), Lal Wasnik (19) and Sanjay Samad (18) — led by one Abhijit Das (42) on Tuesday finished pedalling for more than 1,100km as part of a campaign to spread awareness about environment conservation. The event was sponsored by NGO Debdoot in collaboration with All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) and Kerala Samajam.
The rally, called “Harit Kranti Lao, Paryavaran Bachao”, which kicked off on May 21 and made its way through 11 districts of the state, left the team exhausted but extremely satisfied with the response that they had got. The team visited the districts of East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan, Khunti, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Koderma, Bokaro, Giridih and Dhanbad. Their shield from the sun on the move — ORS pouches, lemon, raw onions, fruits and water.
Addressing a news meet in Jamshedpur on Wednesday, the quartet said that they knew that riding in the May sun would be difficult. Yet, they went ahead with it as the campaign was for the greater good and they wanted to do their bit for the environment.
“After all the pedalling, I am finding it difficult to even move my limbs. But there is a great sense of satisfaction. We did this for the sake of our planet,” said Das, secretary of Debdoot, who led the pack.
The toughest day on the road, according to him, was May 22 when the cyclists left Chakradharpur and took more than 12 hours to reach Khunti, traversing on a rough terrain.
The road to Khunti covered a steep valley that was replete with sharp turns. At times, when the road was steep, they often had to get down and push their bicycles, but refused to stop.
The quartet took small rests of around 15 minutes when they got tired but slowly and steadily continued trudging towards their destination.
“The distance between Khunti and Chakradharpur is just 70km. But it took us close to 12 hours to cycle the distance. The roads were steep and the heat was often killing. I seriously thought that I was going to die. But, then my team members supported and motivated me. We were out for a cause and we had to get it done,” Wasnik said.
The hottest day on road was May 25 when the team reached Bokaro, which experienced temperatures of more than 45°C on that day.
An SUV, carrying medicines, bottles, leaflets, brochures and water, tailed the cyclists through out the trip, though sometimes the four-wheeler managed to pull ahead of the group.
“The vehicle was obviously faster and would often overtake us, leaving us behind by some 8-10km. There were times when we were thirsty but had no ways of contacting the SUV driver as the areas through which we travelled often did not have cell phone network coverage or human habitation,” Das said.
He added that on one occasion a team member had to hitch a ride on a passing truck to fetch water bottles for the team.
To avoid a heat stroke, the team consumed a lot of fruits like cucumber and papaya during the daytime.
However, the exhaustion vanished once they reached a district and were greeted by the deputy commissioners, who promised to chip in for the green cause by initiating plantation drives.
“We were successful with the message that we wanted to spread. Our aim was to get each district to plant one lakh saplings at least and convince them to avoid polythene bags and conserve water,” said Hembrom.
Team- Jitu Hembrom, Lal Wasnik, Sanjay Prasad and Abhijit Das
Date- May 21 to May 29
Districts covered- West Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharswan, Khunti, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Koderma, Jamtara, Bokaro, Giridih and Dhanbad
Sponsors- NGO Debdoot, in collaboration with AIWC and Kerala Samajam