Young eco-warrior gets a Delhi-style welcome, wishes to meet the PM

By, New Delhi
Jul 05, 2023 01:30 AM IST

Kolkata-based Sahil Jha — who is cycling to promote the Save Soil movement — plans to ride for 25,000kms across India. He recently reached Delhi, for the final leg of his journey, and shares how the residents of the Capital are treating him with love and food such as momos at Satya Niketan and chhole bhature in Paharganj.

With a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step, 17-year-old Sahil Jha has pedalled into Delhi. This is the final leg of the cycle expedition he embarked upon on May 1, 2022, to promote the Save Soil movement. Fourteen months, 11 states and 11,000kms later, he says, “I could go anywhere, but nothing like Dilwallon ki Dilli!”

Sahil Jha, who has been pedalling across India, has now reached Delhi to promote the Save Soil movement. (Photo: Gokul VS/HT)
Sahil Jha, who has been pedalling across India, has now reached Delhi to promote the Save Soil movement. (Photo: Gokul VS/HT)

“Be it a passerby or an influencer, everyone here has been so kind and helpful. Some made me try momos in Satya Niketan and others treated me to a delicious shake in Connaught Place. It proves food is Delhi’s love language,” says the eco-warrior, who is now hopeful of meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to convey the message of Save Soil”.

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“My journey began from my house in Howrah (Kolkata) after getting inspired by Sadhguru, who took up a bike tour for this movement, at the age of 65. I thought, main desh ka naujawan kya kar raha hun? So I set off on my bicycle with a backpack... My parents were so upset and told me to never come back! But now, they feel proud seeing my commitment to the environment.”

Jha’s mantra is simple: “If you take care of society, society will take care of you.” This has indeed stood true in his case, as he shares: “I didn’t plan my stay or food. But wherever I reach, the locals help me. I rely on the goodwill of strangers and if I ever feel unsafe, I cycle to my next destination during the night.” Jha’s first night in Delhi was spent at “the railway station”, and he adds, “I came from Jaipur (Rajasthan), but the same morning, I went to a hostel in Paharganj and its manager, upon hearing my story, offered me a room. In fact, in the morning he even fed me Sita Ram ke chhole bhature (smiles).” This young gun’s mission has also left him with some injuries. “I’ve learned to ride safely by trusting my instinct and remaining vigilant at all times. I had an accident in Andhra Pradesh, and I wear those scars as a reminder to stay careful now.”

Author tweets @KritiKambiri

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