hen the whole world is worried about climate change , a person who saw this coming 40 years before has silently left this world after living 97 long years. I was fortunate enough to meet him in September 2015 and photograph him just couple of weeks before his death. Tattikai Ram Bhat was one of the persons who spearheaded a movement against government opposing the dam building proposal to the river Aghanashini. His team not only was successful but also they are able to successfully hold the government not to build any dam so far. Aghanashini river is today one of the purest river without any dams or pollution causing industries on its banks ( later may not technically hold good as now many industries have come up where the river joins the Arabian sea).
When myself and my good friend Ashwini Kumar visited Ram Bhat he was sitting in front of his house with another elderly person from his village – Tattikai . Not to forget he was sitting after finishing the final rites of his daughter on the 14th day of her death. We could clearly hear his conversations with the other elderly person . He was discussing the importance of lakes for a village. Apparently the villagers are eager to build a temple but not bothered about renovating the lake which was just beside the temple place. Ram Bhat was advising him about the importance of the lake, how the elders wanted to protect nature by building temples, what are the roles of lakes protecting the nature.
He said ” You complain about short rain fall every year but don’t care about your own lakes , forest, hills, nature ” he continued ” our elders built temples on the hills or beside the lakes to protect them . otherwise people would have destroyed them to build houses, buildings . That is why we have so many sacred grooves, sacred lakes and still are protected in the name of faith. But today people don’t have that kind of religious faith. That is why nature is being destroyed . We have more natural disasters than ever “
After the elderly guy had left he turned to us and started to talk about the Aghanashini river. He explained all those adventures they had during the movement . He showed so many documents, newspaper cuttings to us regarding those movements.
He was not happy about people leaving villages in the name of education and serving big corporates in the cities. he said ” Look at our villages, they are dying! they are dying because of lack of knowledge. The people who are supposed to get educated and protect villages and its nature are serving big companies in the cities which are bent on destroying the nature. While the uneducated here are destroying the nature ”
Ram Bhat by profession was a teacher and has won many awards and was well recognized in the whole district. His family members are also recognized for many social works. He played a key role in starting many schools and colleges in Sirsi and Siddapur in 70s . Even in 97th age his memory was quite stunning and he could explain every detail of events with time, date and sometime with proof as well. He has a great collection of newspaper clippings, legal documents etc from last 50-60 years!
A man who lived 97 adventurous fruitful years , who has satisfaction of many great achievements still worrying about nature was an eyeopener for me . The authority with which he spoke and his concerns on nature destruction was quite heartening to me. When i left from his house i kept thinking to myself what exactly i am doing for nature !