Date:01/07/2008 URL:

Andhra Pradesh - Hyderabad

Cycling for the cause of environment

Yogendra Kalavalapalli

Shrenik Rao

HYDERABAD: During one of those mountain biking expeditions in Scotland, sitting on a huge cliff with his bicycle beside him, his thoughts wafted around India, his native land, yearning to do something for its environment. Seven months later on June 5, World Environment Day, his cross-country cycling expedition was flagged off from Kanyakumari. Shrenik Rao, CEO of a media company, a documentary film-maker, a teacher, cycling enthusiast and now the founder of the TreeCycle project, is a bag of hidden talents and raw ambitions.

Cycling 80 to 100 km-a-day on his mountain bike, the same one that lay beside him on the mountain cliff, he has thus far travelled 1,570 kms and still has 2, 800 km to his finish line at Srinagar. He will have covered 116 towns spanning seven States and two Union Territories over a period of eighty days by August 15, the day he will cycle his way into Srinagar.

First teacher

Passionate about environment right from his childhood, he was in awe of the documentaries on National Geographic and Discovery channels.

In a way, the environment seed in him was planted by his father, a civil servant, who taught him the essence of conserving environment. He used to gift him plants which further kindled his interest in flora. “I am scared my children will not be able to see a tiger,” he says. Distressed that his countrymen are reckless about environment and blaming the western countries for all the harm they are wrecking on it, he realised that mere lecturing won’t work and conceptualised the TreeCycle project.

The concept is simple: for every 6,000 calories that he burns by cycling everyday, people can pledge to plant trees in support of the United Nations Environmental Programme’s ‘Plant a Billion Trees’ campaign.

With panache for experimentation, he has dabbled with diverse careers before embarking on this mission. After graduating from the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) in Political Communication, he founded a media company – Dolsun Media in London.

While at LSE he filmed a documentary, ‘Denied – this bit of truth’ on the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe which was featured in the BBC programme ‘Outlook’. He also taught Information, Politics, Communication and Society at Napier University in Edinburgh for a brief while before coming to India. Replete with copious talent, one wonders what’s next on his roster of accomplishments!

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