In honor of the late Manoj Misra Ji
In a world that is grappling with the consequences of environmental degradation, individuals like Manoj Misra Ji are like a beacon of hope. As an environmentalist par excellence, he dedicated his life to the preservation and restoration of India’s rivers. Through his unwavering commitment, visionary leadership, and relentless activism, he has become a guiding light in the fight for environmental sustainability. This blog explores the remarkable journey of Manoj Misra Ji and the impact he made as a prominent environmentalist.
Manoj Misra was born in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh in 1955, where his early days were full of curiosity about the wonders of nature that eventually blossomed into his love for the environment. He studied at Pant Nagar University in Uttarakhand and later at Allahabad University. He was also an IAS aspirant who was able to fulfill his dream by becoming an Indian Forest Service officer in 1979. Though he mostly worked in Madhya Pradesh, he was also transferred all across the country for his services. He retired voluntarily in 2001 from the Indian Administrative Services but this did not hinder his zeal for wanting to protect the environment. In fact, he founded PEACE, an NGO dedicated to promoting the cause of nature conservation in 2002.
He continued to work for nature conservation and launched the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan in 2007, which is still regarded as one of his most famous endeavours. It all started when he saw the river for himself and could not stand the rapid deterioration it experienced while he was in Delhi and took matters into his own hands. Reviving a river was indeed difficult, but Manoj Ji was not one to back away from a challenge. He went through countless legal cases against anyone who dared to disparage and exploit the river, and turned the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan campaign into a movement. This finally resulted in the National Green Tribunal approving the river’s gradual rehabilitation in 2015 but unfortunately, this was not where it all ended. The struggle was and is neverending, with numerous organizations and industries still breaking river laws by construction, chemical pollution, and waste dumping, and environmentalists fighting for its justice in court.
Mr. Misra through the Literature-
Even though the last few years of his life, Mr. Misra was immensely dedicated to river rehabilitation, he was still able to publish over 100 articles in various magazines, journals, and newspapers about various environmental topics, and was known to share whatever knowledge he possessed. He was also the person behind the formation and functioning of the India Rivers Forum (IRF) a platform dedicated to the revival and restoration of rivers in India. He was a true environmentalist who wanted to create an impact with his actions and impart wisdom.
Manoj Ji was also completing a book trilogy on three important Indian legal principles. The first one, ‘Wildlife India @ 50,’ a compilation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, was released in September 2022. He was working on a comparable second volume on the Water Act; the third book he had in mind was about the Environment Act.
Remembering Mr. Misra-
The loss of Manoj Misra Ji is deeply felt in the environmental community, but his vision and passion continue to inspire. It is now our responsibility to carry his torch and build upon the foundations he laid. His work serves as a reminder that change is possible and that every action, no matter how small, contributes to the greater cause.
As we reflect on Manoj Misra’s life, let us honour his memory by actively engaging in environmental stewardship. Whether it is through participating in local conservation projects, advocating for sustainable policies, or educating ourselves and others, we can all make a difference. By working together, we can preserve our natural resources, restore our ecosystems, and create a sustainable future for generations to come.
A few words from Mr. Verhaen Khanna, Founder at NDNS-
It was always a great delight to meet Mr. Manoj Misra Ji. He was such a friendly and humble person. We shared many stories whenever we met in court or at our legal team’s office. He was always very supportive and understood the struggles we face in environment conservation because of his experiences. I participated in some of his walks and got to learn practically about the conditions of our environment and possible solutions. Sir was quite active on social media, his posts on Twitter were positive and uplifting. Twitter, being a platform used by the general public for spreading hate and anger, became a happy experience for anybody who would read Manoj Ji’s posts. Sometimes it would be pictures of plants or trees or even some enlightening comments on other people’s posts.
I remember one time when we met and he asked me “Where are you going to cycle next?”, in reference to my cycling posts on social media. Such a legend! We would frequently tag each other on social media posts along with others in the conservation community. Please visit his Twitter page and go through his posts, it will have a great impact on you. Our interns have gotten in touch with him several times in the past to learn about the river Yamuna, and he would always take out time to educate the young minds, especially about information that most people in the city have no clue about. Once when we met at NGT, he was more than happy to stick the “De-Choke Trees” sticker on the back of his car.
In April 2023 Manoj Ji tweeted that he got covid and I sent him a get well soon message, then I was waiting for him to recover from covid to invite him to our “Nature Talks Podh-Cast”. For a few weeks, I didn’t see any posts from him online so I tried to contact him by phone and through friends, but soon after, I received the sad news that Manoj Ji had passed away. It was just a day before World Environment Day. It was very shocking to hear this, and everybody in the conservation community who knew him or knew about him felt like the world has lost someone really special. Since then people from all over the world have been writing about Manoj Ji, so many articles have been published about him. So please take out some time and learn about his message to the world.
A message from Mrs. Padmawati Dwivedi, Founder of Compassionate Living-
I have immense respect for this soft-spoken yet fierce man who has always addressed everyone with respect. He came in touch with me when I brought the Chirag Delhi nallah concretization to the public attention. We have been in touch since then. I find his inner strength and humility very inspiring. I just can’t come to terms that he is no more. I miss him dearly.
Manoj Misra on Twitter – https://twitter.com/yamunajiye
Please see the highlights of the memorial on 19 June 2023 posted by @Nivedita_Him – https://twitter.com/nivedita_Him/status/1670730457032585218