On one darkish night time in 2011, a sweeper was once cleansing the streets close to the military attachment camp in Punjab’s Ferozepur town.
Manjit Singh, a former drawing trainer, had introduced 50 kids in conjunction with a non-profit organisation from Chandigarh to the camp to turn them how the Indian Military purposes. On stepping out for dinner, he spotted one thing ordinary amongst all of the waste that the sweeper had amassed.
Going somewhat nearer to the bin, he realised that it was once a useless pigeon!
“I requested the sweeper why she was once throwing the frame in a dustbin. I even inquired the way it died. She knowledgeable me that the chicken were given electrocuted. In a similar fashion, every other had died within reach too,” he tells The Higher India.
For the following 4 days on the camp, the 54-year-old may now not disregard the incident. He contemplated on discovering an answer that will be recommended for each the birds, and people.
Coming again house to Chandigarh, the environmental activist set out on a project to provide a protected burial to useless birds and deal with the injured. “Most often, those useless birds are transported to larger dustbins in a depressing situation. Additionally, there are possibilities that their decaying our bodies may unfold sicknesses and threaten human and environmental well being alike,” he provides.
Moved deeply by means of this incident, Manjit transformed his bicycle right into a ‘chicken ambulance’. With this, he has handled 1,160 birds thus far. He even guarantees that birds who die are given a correct burial, totalling to one,280 avians like pigeons, crows, parrots, and turtle doves in Chandigarh.
Refused Financial institution Task for Surroundings
A BA dropout, Manjit to begin with labored as a drawing trainer in a non-public faculty. Throughout the faculty, he got here involved with the similar native NGO that motivated him to do social paintings. Then, to do his bit to cut back the emerging air air pollution, Manjit switched to using a bicycle in 1990 on the age of 21.
In 1999, after his marriage, Manjit surrender his process on the faculty to devote himself totally to the surroundings. As an aspect hustle, he labored as a painter, however his in-laws have been involved. They, alternatively, controlled to get him a task be offering as a financial institution clerk.
“The process presented me triple the source of revenue from what I used to be incomes. However I needed to refuse it. I didn’t wish to get trapped in a normal process in a company global the place I must compromise on my project,” he says.
He recounts how his resolution would frequently result in arguments between him and his spouse as she additionally fearful about his well being because of consistent publicity to possible avian sicknesses. “But if she noticed how in point of fact devoted I used to be to my motive and what kind of social acceptance I gained with it, she sooner or later got here on board,” says Manjit.
Manjit, who’s often referred to as Prince Mehra, persevered to unfold consciousness about air air pollution until 2011 ahead of his consult with to the Ferozepur military camp.
After coming again to Chandigarh, he published out some pamphlets soliciting for electorate of Chandigarh to touch him in the event that they spot an injured or useless chicken.
Via then, he had remodeled his bicycle right into a chicken ambulance. “Quickly after, other people began contacting me and reporting the useless or injured birds of their localities. I used to be so glad to look other people coming near me. And when I used to be in a position to unfastened an injured pigeon and deal with it for the primary time, I used to be so glad,” he says.
Along side a way of contentment, Manjit began getting popularity for his paintings. In 2015, his title was once additionally indexed within the Limca E-book of Data for saving 1000’s of birds in Chandigarh. The similar 12 months, he was once additionally awarded by means of the Chandigarh govt at the instance of Republic Day.
What’s extra, even the locals began relating to him because the ‘chicken guy’!
“On this paintings, I am getting process pride in addition to popularity. I’m in point of fact very content material with it. My kids take pleasure in my paintings when their colleges invite me as a primary visitor, and when their friends admire my paintings circulated within the media,” he provides.
‘Seva over trade’
In 2016, Manjit was once presented a task as an animal attendant by means of the animal husbandry division of Chandigarh. “I discovered this process very helpful as I used to be in a position to serve my motive and likewise earn some source of revenue,” he says.
As a part of his day-to-day agenda, regardless of workplace hours, he units out on a rescue project between 3-11 pm.
“Native other people name to tell me about injured or useless birds. Most often, those blameless birds get wounded by means of sharp kite strings or from lovers in stores. In summer season, exhausted birds fall from the sky or collide with high-tension wires,” he informs.
Inside 15-Half-hour, relying at the distance he can duvet on his bicycle, Manjit rescues those birds. He carries all of the vital apparatus and drugs in conjunction with him. This features a small spade, Negasunt powder (an antibacterial used for dressing wounds), Chicken Plus syrup, and 2 scissors to unfastened birds from tangled wires.
“If the chicken is useless, I dig a 1.5 toes hollow and bury it in an open flooring within the town. If the chicken calls for stitches or is significant, I take it to the health center for remedy. If there’s a minor harm, I take them to my space the place I feed them and when they recover, I set them unfastened in 2-5 days,” he provides.
To assist his paintings, a financial institution donated a battery-operated motorbike to Manjit in 2012. “They have been giving me a scooter as I go back and forth during the day. However I refused it as a result of I didn’t wish to weaken my project to cut back air air pollution simply because I used to be getting a unfastened scooter,” he says.
“The battery-powered motorbike is helping me succeed in the injured birds rapid. If the chicken is already useless, I then use my same old bicycle to achieve where and bury it,” he provides.
Recalling a hectic day, Manjit says, “Closing 12 months, a typhoon hit town and several other timber fell within the night time. Those timber have been house to a large number of parrots. I gained a decision at 6am to gather 250 useless parrots and 80 pigeons. All in in the future. The 2 baskets connected to my bicycle have been complete,” he remembers.
“Just lately, I rescued 5 parrots whose ft have been broken. I stored them on remedy in my space for 2 months ahead of they were given higher and may fly off. Lately, I’ve two pigeons and one ghuggi (turtle dove) at my house,” he provides.
For this paintings, Manjit assists in keeping apart 20 p.c of his wage. “Many of us have presented a charge for this paintings, I request them to as an alternative pay me in type and supply chicken feed like bajra (pearl millet) for the injured birds. If I get started asking cash for it, it received’t be sewa (carrier), it’s going to transform a trade,” he says.
“Every now and then useless birds are caught to the street, and other people duvet their noses with a material, however I’ve to select them in order that they’re buried safely. To begin with, my circle of relatives hostile my resolution because of this very reason why,” he explains.
“Par woh jeena kya jeena jo apne liye jiyein (There’s no level in lifestyles if it’s not devoted to carrier for others). I believe those birds like my kids. Their lives are similarly necessary as someone else’s. Their lives may also be stored with simply small efforts,” he provides, ahead of biking away to avoid wasting every other blameless lifestyles.
Edited by means of Padmashree Pande. All photographs: Manjit Singh.