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Gurugram: This story is about a villager who, despite being physically disabled and lacking in education, is trying to save the mountains of Aravalli and the forests of Mangar. He has researched these hills and forests which have been victims of illegal mining and occupation and is now highlighting the importance of the Aravallis through walks which are open to participation from all, especially for residents of Delhi, Gurgaon, and Faridabad.To have a better understanding of the cause he is working for, we arrived at Mangar village situated at the Faridabad-Delhi-Gurugram border. 30-year-old Sunil Harshana lives there in a modest house with very basic facilities. Being born and brought up in a farmer family, Aravallis was what his cattle depended on for their fodder. But with time, the deteriorating state of this hilly range, made Mr. Harshana take up the task of protecting it from illegal mining and occupation.Sunil Harshana mobilises the youth to save Aravalli and the forests of MangarSunil Harshana told us that this area is a recharge zone of water, that is utilised by the people of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Delhi. To spread awareness about the Aravallis and its importance he encourages people from these cities to visit the forest to understand the need for preserving these hills. Mr. Harshana has also involved many youth volunteers from the village for the initiative. He says, “Due to the arrival of the people from the city to explore the mountains and forests of Aravalli, things have taken a positive turn.” Sunil Harshana conducts walks for three to four days every week so that more and more people are able to explore and learn about the Aravallis and the Mangar forests.Sunil Harshana educating people on the need to save the AravallisEvery day many people come to Sunil Harshana to understand the biodiversity of the Aravalli mountains and forests. Rajeshwari, a teacher at Heritage School, says that she often talks to Sunil about Aravallis.Speaking to NDTV about the initiative, one of the school teachers said, “School children should visit Aravallis not just for bookish knowledge, but they should come here and feel the essence of it. As teachers, this walk is very important for us, as we realize that the water recharge zone of the Aravalli range has a greater impact to enrich our environment and trees. We have to understand the importance of saving these hills, courtesy Sunil Harshana. In this three-hour walk as part of his campaign to save the environment, Sunil talks about all the necessary things to the people related to the environment.”This desire to save the Aravallis saw Sunil Harshana clash with the land mafia many times. Even the threat to his life has not been able to dent his spirit and his campaign to save Aravallis and Mangar forests has continued undeterred.



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