FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
Itagar, March 23: Well known environmentalist and photographer Arif Siddique was conferred WIPRO-ture Forever Society Sparrow Award-2015 at glittering function at Maharashtra ture Park, Mahim in Mumbai to mark the World Sparrow Day on March 20 last.
He received a memento, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 50000 from Wipro vice president (HR) Preity Kataria in presence of Dainik Bhaskar senior vice president Viy Maheshwari, Maharashtra PCCF Suresh Tharot, Godrej Limited head corporate communication Sujit Patil, besides of representatives of many corporate houses, film persolities and senior ture conservationist including some foreigners. “We have often noticed in the environment conservation field that while the best known professiol conservationists consistently receive accolades for their good work, there are many others who make consistent efforts in their own way to save the environment without worrying about the credits, said Kataria. “Our sentiment behind launching the awards is to honor such people and applaud their silent efforts. This award is to honor the work of individuals and organizations at the grassroots level for strengthening the conservation movement for better protection of the environment and biodiversity,” he added.
Pleasantly surprised on being selected for the prestigious award, he told this daily that his responsibilities have multiplied and hopes to promote eco-tourism by making it community-based for sustaible livelihood of the local people to make conversation effort meaningful and participatory.
“Aruchal Pradesh has no jungle mafia or poacher but people often hunt because they have no viable altertive to earn their income,” he said adding he would try to involve them in eco tourism. Arif from a family of hunters and went on hunting spree during childhood recalls that even when he was young, but began to protest against hunting one he grew up.
He landed in the state to work a PWD engineer but now terms it amounted to homecoming of sorts for him. He could not have felt more at home among the forests which always inspired him. He began to use his camera to chronicle, shooting butterflies to impress upon people the importance of their existence and the significance of saving their habitat.
As they say, water found its own level and he met people working for conservation and eco-tourism. Arif was instrumental in holding the first intertiol butterfly festival at Jairampur in 2009 followed by another in 2013.
Arif chose a field that does not require major funding. He connected with people at the grassroots and his profession as an engineer with a government department provided him with ample opportunities to reach out to people and spread the issues that concern him. On several occasions, his work found the support of local leaders and legislators. Sometimes, when he needed it, they have come forward with fincial assistance. The pictures of internet and facebook-savvy engineers on culture, tribes and ture are all over the internet.
“It’s always a difficult job to stop hunting or felling of trees in an area where people are dependent on forests for their daily life. But hunting as a hobby has declined in the last few years as the younger generation is now educated.” He is relieved that the youth would rather chase fashioble things than hunt. Yet, the task ahead will be to dissuade villagers in remote areas, he believes.