UTTARAKHAND: Around 11 years back, doctors from three reputed hospitals in the national capital had termed his tongue cancer as “untreatable”.
Dr Nitin Pandey, however, was not ready to give up. As an Indian Army doctor who graduated from Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, he decided to proceed ahead with multiple surgeries.
“It took around four weeks for me to recover and get back to normal life,” recalls Dr Pandey in his heavy yet firm voice, which has changed a bit post surgeries. Later along with his comrades, he took up ‘Citizens for Green Doon’ which has filed a dozen petitions relating to the environment and ecology of the state in the Uttarakhand High Court and the National Green Tribunal.
The initiative has saved around 20,000 trees across the hill state even as the volunteers have planted more than 60,000 trees with an 80 per cent survival rate. It is in contrast with the state forest department’s tree survival that ranges between 10 and 20 per cent. In 2013, he started another initiative, ‘Saheli Trust’ which supports a shelter home for orphaned girls and enables them to compete in various exams.
The trust also works towards awareness about domestic violence, women’s education, generating employment and providing requisite education to the women who are unable to afford it. Shruti Kaushik, who works with Dr Pandey, says: “We strive to work towards gender equality and women empowerment.”
The group started ‘SHE’ cab service in Dehradun a few years ago which was exclusively for women and by women. But it was shelved due to various reasons, including a lack of demand.
Having served in Indian Air Force starting in 1986, Dr Pandey was stationed in Srinagar, Jaffna in Sri Lanka and many other conflict zones in and out of the country, he left the force in 1991 and returned to Dehradun, his birthplace. After a second lease of life, he decided to start cancer awareness among people through his clinic and outside.
“Now that God has granted me a second life, I thought I should do something for society. First I decided to take up cancer awareness with my patients as well as others,” he recalls. The doctor is a runner who covers at least 70 km per week. Having completed many marathons, including the 72 km ‘La Ultra’ which starts in Leh city, at a height of 11,500 to 17,618 feet, Dr Pandey is also a member of Dehradun Runners Club.
An advocate of sports tourism, he urges the government to provide infrastructure, training and opportunities to make Uttarakhand a hub of sports tourism. “Uttarakhand has the potential to become well known for sports tourism. Our government, people and the system should create an entity to make Uttarakhand a well known name globally in terms of sports tourism,” says Dr Pandey. He also prefers cycling to commute locally. His ‘Let’s Cycle to Work’ drive in Dehradun has encouraged people to give up pollution-causing vehicles.
Fitness freak: Once a soldier, always a soldier
Nitin Pandey is a runner who covers at least 70 km per week. Having completed many marathons, including the 72 km ‘La Ultra’ which starts in Leh city, at a height of 11,500 to 17,618 feet, the former Army officer is also a member of Dehradun Runners Club.
An advocate of sports tourism, he urges the government to provide infrastructure, training and opportunities to make Uttarakhand a hub of sports tourism. According to him, Uttarakhand has the potential to become well-known for sports tourism.