Mr. Patwardhan was one of the first to provide a vision of sustainable transport for the city based on walking, cycling and public transport.
Sujit Patwardhan, 77, passed away at Joshi hospital in Pune where he had been admitted a few days earlier due to health complications arising out of a liver problem.
Mr. Patwardhan founded Parisar in the 1980s out of concern for the rapid changes happening in the city leading to environmental degradation. He had been influenced by changes taking place in Latin America and Europe, where people’s movements had forced Governments to reconsider “automobile-centric” policies paving the way for a focus on walking, cycling and public transport or “people-centric” cities. The organizational newsletter, Parisar Varta, carried translations of such articles and was the first time such ideas were propagated in the city. Parisar in its early days organized public lectures by luminaries such as Vandana Shiva, Bittu Sehgal, Medha Patkar, MN Buch, Ramchandra Guha, Madhav Gadgil and Amulya Kumar Reddy on a variety of issues connected with the environment and sustainable development. An early and long-term supporter of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Mr. Patwardhan saw transport policies being linked to various aspects of human well-being, such as air pollution, road safety and heritage conservation. He vociferously opposed road widening, flyovers and such projects which not only promoted more motorization but also destroyed the aesthetics of the city. Under his leadership, Parisar fought against the destruction of the river and hills, helped draft the city’s first Comprehensive Traffic and Transport Policy, and when necessary took up cases such as opposition to the river road all the way to the Supreme Court. He was a member of the Mahabaleshwar Heritage committee where he fought to preserve the hill station’s ecology.
Mr. Patwardhan hailed from the famous Patwardhan family, his uncles Achyutrao and Rao Saheb Patwardhan were involved in India’s freedom movement and his father was an ICS officer. He studied at Rishi Valley School. He studied printing technology in the U.K and later set-up his own printing press, Mudra in Narayan Peth in 1976, which he ran until a few years ago. He was an amateur artist, loved typesets and calligraphy, a member of the Pune Jazz club, an avid photographer, a tennis fan and enjoyed offbeat cinema and documentaries. In short, things in which he saw beauty.
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Vidya Patwardhan, an educationist, and daughters Lara and Amrita Patwardhan as well as four grandchildren.
Issued by Parisar
Ranjit Gadgil, Program Director
Read about some of his work here: