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‘Green’ pilot now nature walks for a living

Commercial pilot Verhean Khanna gave up his day job in commercial flying to revive a love of the city’s green heritage amongst the smog-choked

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Participants of the ‘exploding green zones of Delhi’ at the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary
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Green initiatives by ordinary individuals feel like a breath of fresh air. And this is exactly what Verhean Khanna is doing. This 27-year-old commercial pilot, with 260 flying hours experience, gave up his job last year in order to cater to more pressing matters on the ground.

Khanna started first with a campaign on a Facebook page where he set up the 'New Delhi Nature Society', an organisation that organises walks to educate people about the environment. The initiative, which involves organised weekly walks to green belt areas including sanctuaries and parks across Delhi, is to remind people how their 'green strip' is disappearing and is being neglected in rapid urbanisation.

“Over the years many of these green zones have perished from the face of Delhi. Recently the Rose garden opposite SDA market and the Kalkaji Park have not kept any green strips around Metro stations that were earlier coming up there,” said Khanna, who operates from his home-cum-office in south Delhi's New Friends Colony.

These walks entitled ‘Exploring the green zones of Delhi,’ takes people across the green belt of Delhi in order to introduce them to “green zones” and create awareness for reviving the city's almost lost “love for nature.” Khanna believes that through this people can fall in love with the environment.

“By personally visiting each venue they are documenting the flora, fauna and also collecting seeds of native plants. They are looking at birds, butterflies, frogs, dragon flies, lizards, snakes, nilgai, jackals, and much more,” he said.

The green zones covered so far in the campaign include four venues—Asola Wildlife Sanctuary, Sanjay Van, Jahanpanah Forest, and Okhla Bird Sanctuary.

Khanna has collaborated with the Bombay Natural History Society team for some of these walks. He also invites other experts and environmentalists for these walk.

But it’s not all serious. On the fun side, Khanna teaches people the art of scaling trees and is also planning campaigns to save the fast depleting flora and fauna of the Capital, full-time.

“Participants are not given boring lectures but are offered sessions on how to make a fire, tree climbing, camping, breathing exercises, rock balancing and natural art work, among others,” he said.

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