Drive down 45 kilometres southwest from the city of Pune and you will see a beautiful man-made forest in the Sahyadri range. But when Dr. Pravin Chordia bought this property in the year 2000, it was still barren land. The natural forest had been destroyed, despite Sahyadri being a region that receives heavy rainfall. Dr. Chordia decided that this would be the place where he would reclaim his life by getting close to nature.
Dr. Chordia was a general surgeon who ran his own hospital in Pune. But a flourishing career of 22 years still left him feeling disturbed. The illnesses that he saw on a daily basis, the increasing dependency on medicines, and the mad rush of a city that was becoming increasingly polluted – all these made him conscious that something was not right with the way we live. “I felt we are getting alienated from nature, which is catastrophic. We cannot sustain our lives if we continue to throng our cities and shun nature. This feeling was reinforced when my son was diagnosed with asthma. I decided to change things,” he says.
Slowly, Dr. Chordia began realigning himself and his family with nature. They bought 110 acres of land in Velhe Taluka, Dhanep, in the Sahyadri range. They started reforesting this land and planted at least 2.5 lakh trees.
Today, at least 50,000 trees, of more than 1000 species, are alive and thriving in the land as a thick forest. They have successfully reforested 45 acres of the 110 acre land and the tree planting continues religiously.
Dr. Chordia was more than thrilled to have chosen to go the mountain range and plant trees. He now felt more confident of his thought process of going back to the nature. “As a natural progression, I decided to give up my allopathic practice and shut down my hospital. Going back to nature also means giving up the illogical ways of modern medicine. I told my wife I did not want to end my life on an ICU bed but wanted to live a healthy life,” says Dr. Chordia. With this resolve, he decided to experiment with sustainable living by creating an eco-village in their land in the Sahyadri range. They built mud houses out of compressed mud bricks. The family started to grow fresh fruits and vegetables organically here. They also started working together with the local farmers and helped them switch to organic methods of farming. They composted the waste on the farm and generated biogas. Since this was an experiment, they did not hesitate to try out new things. They used the opportunity to learn and experiment with various ways of generating energy. They installed solar panels and looked for other natural ways of energy generation like photovoltaic, gobar gas and solar cooker. They did rainwater harvesting and built ponds on the land. A negligible amount of power is used from the grid and every drop of water is recycled in this eco-village.
First published by The Better India
Read about Medicine-Free Life Community also initiated by Dr Pravin Chordia