S. N. Patro

Ashoka Fellow
Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, India
Fellow Since 1991


This profile was prepared when S. N. Patro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
Orissa is one of India's poorest states, yet it has a wealth of environmental resources that have been unappreciated by India and the rest of the world and neglected by Orissa's own people. Sundara is setting out to increase public awareness of Orissa's environmental riches and needs. Over the last several years, he has been nourishing the Orissa Environmental Society (OES), and has now brought it to the point where it needs his full-time attention. His work is at this takeoff point because he has developed an approach that works, one that is both credible and economical.
The society focuses its efforts on the major conservation opportunities in the state. Spurred on by his concern for species loss, he and the society have contributed to the struggle to preserve the Similipal forest and are now giving special attention to building adequate protection for another rich forest area, Mahendragiri. He is also concerned with a number of other areas, including Chilka Lagoon, Gandhamaran Forest, and Bhitarkanika Mangrove Swamp. The diversity and bounty of these sites' natural heritages help explain why the man after whom Ashoka is named was so impressed with the environmental riches of Orissa.
For such areas, the society pulls together all the available research and then, using those who already have substantial expertise, works with the local people to fill in gaps in the human and natural environmental map in order to build an intelligent set of recommendations and supporting arguments.
The society then goes to work building whatever support it can in the government machinery, from the district level straight up to the state legislature and to potential national and international allies.
As this model increasingly takes hold and as the society builds up its skills and its alliances, Sundara hopes that this model of state environmental action will spread to other parts of India.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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