Alipurduar/Kolkata: A 35-year-old man from West Bengal has invested all his savings in touring across the country on a bicycle and creating awareness about the importance of saving trees and water.
The owner of a small shop, Arup Biswas, has already travelled to several states of eastern and north-eastern India.
I began my journey on January 23 this year, Netaji’s birth anniversary from Bijpur (in North 24 Parganas district). My aim is to make people aware of the importance of saving trees and water for our survival, Biswas told PTI after reaching Alipurduar in the northern part of West Bengal.
After pedalling through Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, he now aims to visit Sikkim.
He has plans to visit northern, western and southern states then.
Initially I had set a target of 18 months to complete my tour. But since I am visiting many interior and remote areas across the country, it will probably take two and a half years,” he said.
Biswas, a resident of Bijpur in North 24 Parganas district, carries necessary items with him utensils, a stove, ration, blankets, clothes and others on the carrier. An Indian national flag and two solar panels are fitted to the front of his bicycle.
The solar panels allow him to charge his mobile phone and switch on a light in the evenings.
He also stuck small boards with messages about environmental protection and decorated the cycle with artificial plants.
The cycle weighs around 65 kg as I am carrying all these things, he said.
Talking about his experiences so far, Biswas said he has found out that people are not aware of simple things such as what oxygen is.
“It was very difficult for me to make them understand the importance of saving trees and water, he said.
However, most of these people accepted him wholeheartedly.
“They gave me money for my trip. They even let me stay in their houses,” he said.
But not all experiences are good. I won’t name the state. There a man had taken money from me to buy a bottle of liquor for himself, Biswas said.
He said that in the plains he pedals for 100-120 km per day and it is 25 km per day in the hills. If he gets no invitation to stay at somebody’s house, he spends nights beside highways, in temples or markets.
In Mizoram, I spent several nights in jungles, he said.
When I travel, I interact with at least 200 to 250 people each day. Curious onlookers, occupants of various vehicles travelling on highways also approach me at times and I utilise these interactions to create awareness among them about the importance of saving trees and water, Biswas, who studied till class 11, said.
The cyclist also has plans to visit Nepal and from there he wants to go to Uttar Pradesh. Then he will tour Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and other states.
Odisha will be the last state from which I will enter West Bengal again, he said.
Setting out on the tour was not easy for him as his parents were not willing to let him go. So he had to convince them that the mission was for a good cause.
During his trip to West and South India, Biswas has plans to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep also.
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