S D Mahajan
Even before he had completed a degree course, Mr. Mahajan was engaged as a Research Assistant with the Indian Survey Research Centre. From there, he embarked on his lifelong journey in the field of Botany. His task in the beginning made him visit all types of forests – from arid jungles of Rajasthan to the evergreens of Karnataka. In each of the forest regions, he was to study and document the flora & fauna, the insects & animals and the symbiosis between them. After 4 years, he came back to complete his B.Sc. and worked in the Botany Dept. at the Pune University. He then shifted to Gokhale College, Kolhapur as the HOD (Botany and Zoology) and continued his services there for the next 30 years. In his free time, he started participating in environmental movements and thus the Nisarg Mitra Mandal (Friends of Nature club) came into being. This club pioneered many activities such as Save the Deorai (plantation attached to temples) and turning barren lands green with the help of tree plantation.
Dr. Madhukar Bachulkar – Cholekar
Dr. Madhukar Bachulkar – Cholekar is plant taxonomist and currently is the Principle of Vijaysingh Yadav Science College at Peth-Wadegaon. Before holding this post he has worked in many other colleges as HOD (Botany) and Coordinator (Biotechnology). He has written 25 research papers on plant taxonomy, medicinal plants and the environment.
He is the president of an NGO – ‘Nisarg Mitra’ – in Kolhapur; member of the biodiversity and taxonomy committee of the Govt. of Maharashtra. He has received many prestigious awards so far. Shivaji University has conferred its ‘Best Teacher’ award on him in 2003. Many young and budding environmentalists look up to him for guidance and support.
This institute was founded in 1982, to spread awareness regarding environmental problems and the need for scientific thinking. From 1990, it started conducting educational programs related to the cleaning of Rankala lake, Panchganga river and the Saving of Western Ghats. The institute also made some films on these matters. It finally succeeded in securing 114 cr. and 8 cr. respectively towards these projects from the Govt., so as to prevent further pollution of Panchganga river and Rankala lake. Since 1988, the Institute has offered alternatives to immersion of Ganesh idols and Nirmalya (flowers offered to deities) into water bodies. It intervenes (with systematic study of laws and regulations) in drought, disaster management, environmental damages caused by mining, tree cutting, industrial and biomedical wastes etc. It has released a Residents’ Charter in Kolhapur called Nandi Paryawaran Samruddhichi by collaborating with various other NGOs and institutes.