A 20-year-old pedalling from Kashmir to Kanyakumari for green future

Excelsior Sports Correspondent
JAMMU, June 1: In a brave attempt to address climate change, a 20 year-old Pankaj Mahla, a third-year student studying Electronics and Communication Engineering at Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh, and a novice cyclist, decided to follow his passion and began a 4,000 km cycling trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This journey, dubbed ‘Solaride’, aims to promote the adoption of solar energy and sustainable living practices across India.
Pankaj’s journey will span 33 cities in 50 days, cycling approximately 120 km each day on average. The selected route, chosen for its safety and practicality, will pass through major cities and Union Territories, showcasing the variety of landscapes and cultural heritage of India. During his journey, Pankaj will interact with local communities to educate them about the advantages of solar energy and eco-friendly transportation.
Raised in a family with a strong tradition of service, Pankaj’s father is a retired Army personnel who now works in the Haryana Police force, while his mother has always been a homemaker, focusing on caring for the family. Pankaj is dedicated to sustainability in both his professional and personal life, inspired by the commitment of others. Upon experiencing an upper respiratory infection caused by air pollution, he came to understand the significance of clean energy and resolved to make a positive impact.
In an interview with Excelsior, Pankaj mentioned that he began his journey from Srinagar on May 30 and is cycling an average of 100 kilometers per day. He hopes to finish the journey in 50 days. Pankaj is also raising awareness during his trip by giving lectures at various institutions along the way.
When asked why he opted for a bicycle, Pankaj explained that he could have chosen a motorcycle, but that wouldn’t align with his goal of raising awareness about sustainable living and pollution control.
He said his goal is to inspire more people to switch to solar energy and adopt eco-friendly practices. To further support this mission, he will offer free consulting sessions on solar panel installations, addressing any questions or concerns about transitioning to renewable energy.
The “Solaride” initiative aims to engage over 100,000 people via social media, highlighting the importance of green energy and cycling. By understanding and addressing the socio-economic challenges faced by people in adopting solar energy, Pankaj hopes to facilitate a smoother transition towards renewable energy solutions in India.
Last year, Pankaj represented India at NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Competition (HERC) in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, where he achieved a commendable global ranking of Under 20. This achievement underscores his determination and capability to undertake significant challenges.