Pedalling towards clean highways

Pedalling towards clean highways

Nilesh Thakore, a 56-year-old textile employee from Ahmedabad, is on a mission to spread the message against throwing plastics on highways.

Cycling from the capital of Gujarat to Kanyakumari, he collects plastic bottles and wrappers on the road that commuters leave behind.

The first leg of his journey was from Ahmedabad to Pune, a distance of 661 km, which he covered in eight days in August. "I could cover nearly 80 km per day as I knew this route and had a clear idea about where I would be spending nights."

The second part was tougher as the route was not familiar to him. "The speed was reduced to 65 km per day." But he loved the roads this time.

He completed the second leg on November 20 in Bengaluru and is planning the next round from here to Kanyakumari in January 2018.

"We keep our house clean but are not bothered about throwing plastics on the roadside," Nilesh told DH. "Even the government is not cleaning the roads," he said.

The plastics that he picks up on the road he drops in the next waste bin on his route.

Nilesh says he interacted with more than 500 people on his journey and spread the message.

"Bengaluru city is beautiful," says Nilesh. "What I admire about the city is that people follow traffic rules."

He trained for two years before he started the expedition. "The toughest moment was climbing Katraj road in Pune," he says. "To clear 7 km, it took 2 hours."

Nilesh started his sports activities when he was 21, playing for the Gujarat University cricket team. He has also done eight walking expeditions and trekking in the Himalaya and a solo motorcycle ride through the highest motorable road in India.

After retirement, he plans to walk to Amarnath from Jammu, again to spread the message on cleanliness. "I have been to Amarnath in 1987 and 2007. The difference is really alarming," he says.

Nilesh is an employee in Arvind Ltd, a textile company in Ahmedabad. "The company has given me leave to complete my dream. My family is also very supportive," he smiles.

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