At a time when the city’s residents are up in arms to prevent thousands of trees from being felled, another Delhiite — Tarun Jha — is trying to make a difference in a unique way. A fashion and commercial photographer by profession, 38-year-old Jha undertook a 1,200km journey to Leh in Ladakh on a bicycle to highlight the problem of high pollution the capital is facing and to encourage people to switch to cycling.
The journey, which was completed on Monday, took Jha close to 20 days after he set out from the capital on June 13, 2018. He cycled for 6-12 hours a day to complete the distance. His equipment and baggage weighed 138kg in total. “If I could carry this weight on a bicycle for 1,200km, Delhiites too can take up cycling, especially for short distances,” said Jha.
Living in Delhi for the past 15 years, Jha said he has seen the environmental conditions deteriorate each day. However, when his wife became pregnant and faced difficulties due to pollution, he decided to do something about it.
“I felt that something needed to be done, so switched my mode of transportation to a bicycle. I’ve had no training to cycle long distances, but the journey shows that cycling 5-10 kilometres a day is not a big problem,” Jha said.
Jha said that the amount of energy it took to ride up a slope was equal to riding a bicycle for 20-25 minutes in Delhi. He recorded his journey each day and uploaded videos on his YouTube channel to inspire people to take up cycling.
He also interacted with locals and villagers, trying to find out solutions on how they were managing their pollution levels.
“I stayed one night at a gurdwara in Rupnagar district of Punjab where they told me they were managing pollution levels by gifting plants to each other and planting more saplings each year to increase the green cover,” said Jha.
His wife, Rajat Jha, said her husband can act as an inspiration for many others and raise awareness among people.
“A lot of people are sharing his posts on Facebook and we hope this makes a difference,” she added.