Sustainability Crusaders: Stories from India

BuzzOnEarth is an online publication on environmental sustainability and human wellness, focused on creating positive impact. BoE aims to bridge the knowledge gap and act as a catalyst in accelerating sustainable development.

The world is so much about “bling” that it is easy to lose sight of the people who are actually doing the work. The same holds true for people in the field of environmental conservation and sustainability too!

We all saw, that how the Padma awardees for the year 2019 were chosen from among the masses. Most of them were people we had hardly ever heard about. Ideally, that should be the case but the way of the world does not let things like that happen a lot!

So, we appreciated it, just like we appreciate any good work.

However, one crucial bit about appreciating is that we need to keep up with the good work! And so, we worked on a list of lesser-known environmentalists in India who have done a lot to make the country cleaner and greener!

So, here we go! 

Jadav Payeng


Imagine growing plants in the barren sandbar of the continually flooding Brahmaputra. Seems almost impossible right. However, Jadav Payeng from the lush green lands of Assam made it possible. The Forest Man of India, as he is known as in the circles, was recently bestowed with the Padma Shri for achieving this feat. 

Of course, it took him decades to make this happen, however, the “Molai” forests, named after him (Jadav Molai Payeng) are one awesome sight to look at!

Mansukhbhai Raghavjibhai Prajapati


Remember how CFCs which are used in our refrigerators have been known to cause so much environmental damage. Mansukhbhai isn’t a typical environmentalist by definition. He created a great alternative for traditional cooling. His Mitti Cool Fridge is one eco-friendly refrigerator which does not run on CFCs. Rather it uses the simple cooling properties of the soil and that too really efficiently and effectively. 

Kinkri Devi


Kinkri Devi is the epitome of Women Empowerment. She is best known for waging a war on illegal mining and quarrying in her native state of Himachal Pradesh. Though she was a sweeper by profession and lived in abject poverty, this did not deter her from taking up the cause of environmental protection. The results of her efforts were so far-reaching that she was even invited for the International Women’s Conference in Beijing besides being awarded the Stree Shakti Samman in 1999.

Silverine Swer


Silverine Swer is a Padma Shree Awardee environmentalist of global fame. Popularly known as Kong Sil, Silverine was instrumental in recognising the sustainable use of water in environmental preservation

Chandi Prasad Bhatt


Chandi Prasad Bhatt is one of the pioneers of the Chipko Movement for which he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award too. A recipient of Padma Shree, Mr Bhatt is known for his work on subaltern social ecology.

Marimuthu Yoganathan


Marimuthu Yoganathan, fondly known as the Tree Man of India, is a Coimbatore based bus driver who has single-handedly planted over three lakh saplings in the past thirty years. Despite his economic condition, Marimuthu contributes 40% of his salary to the cause of protecting the environment. For his efforts towards environmental conservation, this genuine nurturer of nature had been bestowed with the title ‘Suttru Suzhal Sevai Veerar’, or Eco-Warrior by the Tamil government.

Kallen Pokkudan


Kallen Pokkudan is an environmentalist based out of Kerala who has won innumerable awards including the very prestigious Bala Sahitya Institute Award and the P. S. Gopinathan Nair Environmental Award. Known as the mangrove crusader of India, he has been instrumental in realising the importance of these groves on the sustainability of the planet. Also a prolific writer, Pokkudan is the founder of the Mangrove School that attempts to educate people about the ecological importance of mangroves.

Anupam Mishra


Known as India’s Water Guru, Mr Anupam Mishra has dedicated his life efforts to the cause of water conservation. His work mainly focuses on rainwater harvesting through the implementation of traditional knowledge. Mr Mishra is the recipient of the prestigious Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar and the Jamnalal Bajaj Award among others.



Sugatha Kumari, an Indian poet and activist has been at the forefront of South India’s environmental movement. She played a pivotal role in the Save Silent Valley project. A recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi twice, Sugathakumari was also bestowed with the first Indira Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra Award from the Government of India for her efforts in environmental conservation and afforestation.

Nalini Sekhar


Nalini Shekhar is a social activist and also the co-founder of Hasiru Dala or the Green Force. It is a non-profit helping marginalized waste pickers based in Bengaluru. They were recognized for their work to create a more sustainable waste management system in the city.

We had also covered some of the most eminent (and lesser-known) women Sustainability Crusaders in an earlier blog. If you wish to read about them too, you can read it here!

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