Lt. Gen. (Retd). Shrikrishna Sardeshpande passes away at 89
This news is a heavy blow to all environmentalists and nature lovers in Karnataka, as he was a true champion of protecting the environment.
After retiring from the military, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande dedicated his life to safeguarding the environment of North Karnataka. He tirelessly advocated for the government to recognize the dangers of diverting Mhadei to Malaprabha, warning that it would turn North Karnataka into a desert.
Born on September 4th, 1934, in Munoli, Taluka Saundatti, District Belagavi, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande came from an agricultural family. He joined the Indian Army after completing his education and was commissioned in The Kumaon Regiment as a military officer.
Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande was a true warrior, having actively participated in the Bangladesh War in 1971, the Sri Lanka Peacekeeping Force in 1985-86, and against Naga insurgents in Nagaland. His dedication to serving his country and protecting the environment will be sorely missed.
Due to his distinguished military service, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande was awarded several prestigious honors, including the Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, and Uttam Uudh Seva Medal.
After retiring from the military, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande became increasingly concerned about the rampant destruction of the Western Ghats rainforests. He observed that valuable resources such as vegetation and water were being destroyed due to mining, dams, shifting cultivation, and urbanization.
To gain a deeper understanding of the issue, he trekked through the river basins of Mhadei, Malaprabha, Tilari, and Kali. He also worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about the dangers of deforestation by reaching out to schools, colleges, and the mass media.
In order to achieve his goal of forest conservation, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande wrote letters and personally contacted government departments. He also established “Paryavarni,” a voluntary organization in 1998, to connect the general public with the cause of forest conservation and turn it into a mass movement.
Thanks to his efforts, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande has made a significant impact on the preservation of the Western Ghats rainforests. His dedication to this cause serves as an inspiration to us all.
With his unwavering dedication and passion for conservation, General Sardeshpande was instrumental in the establishment of several wildlife sanctuaries and ecological sensitive areas in India. His tireless efforts led to the creation of the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as the Netravati and Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuaries in the state of Goa. He even met with the Governor of Goa to advocate for these important conservation efforts.
One of General Sardeshpande’s most significant contributions was the proposal of the Sahyadri Ecological Sensitive Area (SESA), which aimed to protect the forest biodiversity hotspots in a vast expanse of 12,000 square kilometers across Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra. His diligent work and expertise in this area were evident in the proposal he prepared himself.
In addition to his conservation work, General Sardeshpande was also a prolific writer, having authored numerous books in both English and Kannada. He was a man of boundless energy, and after relocating to Dharwad in 2007, he joined INTAC and actively worked to preserve ancient heritage temples, idols, and houses.
General Sardeshpande was deeply concerned about the impact of deforestation on the Malaprabha River, which was once a perennial river but has now become non-perennial due to massive deforestation in its basin. He warned that the proposed construction of a dam and rerouting of Mhadei waters would have a similar effect on the river, turning it into another Malaprabha.
The establishment of the “Paryawarni” organization, which won the prestigious Karnataka State Award, and the tireless efforts towards forest conservation, have left an indelible mark on the State of Karnataka, particularly in Belagavi. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the supremely courageous warrior, Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande, for his invaluable contributions in this regard. The Government of Karnataka also recognized his outstanding social service by presenting him with the Rajyotsava Puraskar.
Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande’s unwavering commitment to environmental conservation and social welfare has been truly remarkable. His leadership and dedication have inspired countless individuals to take up the cause of protecting our natural resources and promoting sustainable development. The “Paryawarni” organization, under his guidance, has set a shining example for others to follow.
It is heartening to see the Government of Karnataka recognizing the contributions of such outstanding individuals. The Rajyotsava Puraskar is a fitting tribute to Lt. Gen. Sardeshpande’s selfless service to society. We hope that his legacy will continue to inspire future generations to work towards a better, more sustainable future for all.