Mission on wheels

A 24-year-old is cycling from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to create awareness about the water crisis in the country.

From battling the extreme colds of Kashmir to surviving the intense summers of Delhi, 24-year-old cyclist Philem Rohan Singh has been cycling across India to create awareness about the looming water crisis in the country. With an extraordinary mission that focuses on identifying the issues leading to scarcity of clean and safe drinking water and the continuous depleting groundwater levels, Rohan is on a mission to cover the road distance from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The campaign titled #WaterForLife is led by Sharda University in UP and was flagged off on June 14 from Srinagar with nine stops on its route, covering 2000 kilometres before reaching to the Bay.

As a part of the project, Rohan is accompanied by a team of documentary makers who will be visually documenting the research-based report on water-related issues, findings and solutions, for India’s first video-based research report. “I will be gathering insights of the issue and investigate it further by talking to villagers and families in India,” says Rohan who has reached Mumbai a few days ago.

In the two and a half months’ mission, Rohan is yet to cover 12 states before culminating the journey in Kanyakumari. So far Rohan has been able to interact with locals from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Gujarat. Talking about his interest in the project, he informs that cause of water crisis intrigued him. “I want to cycle for humanity but when I learnt about this theme, I thought of taking up this campaign to look into the ways of conserving water in the country,” explains the cyclist who is a postgraduate student of English Literature at the same university.

Although the campaign covers the entire country, Maharashtra, in particular, has a water crisis of potable drinking water. “Nearly 10,506 hamlets and 4,920 villages, in six revenue divisions are now parched and the numbers are expected to rise, due to the continuing heatwave, depletion of dam water and delay in the arrival of the southwest monsoon,” Rohan reveals.

In the past, Rohan has done four rides covering 10,000 kilometres of the country and had initially faced the apprehensions of his family. Recalling one of the incidents from his first ride form Delhi to Imphal which was touted to cover 1800 kilometres, Rohan recounts that his family thought it is a suicide mission. “There were a lot of restrictions from my family as they were very apprehensive about my cycling for longer distances and passing through some sensitive areas in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” reminisces the cyclist, and assures that now his family agrees to whatever mission he chooses. “Now they have understood that I am doing this for the nation and a lot of people are becoming a part of it in order to support me to achieve this mission,” he insists.

Armed with a backpack of 25 kilograms comprising of sports and formal wear, along with a few basic necessary items, this passionate cyclist had to face many challenges. Apart from the financial crisis, he had to navigate difficult terrains and battle changing weather conditions. “I ride 100 kilometers every day and that causes fatigue and sickness, but I am more focused on my mission so everything else is managed,” says the athlete, and clarifies that he doesn’t have any criteria to cycle every day for certain kilometers to mark some records. “I don’t think of being into any record books. I do it because I can do it,” he clarifies.

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