As a teenager, Janak Palta McGilligan had a near-death experience and underwent open heart surgery at the age of 17. With a newfound respect for life, she decided to dedicate her life to mother earth’s well-being.
Back in 1992, when she was invited to Rio De Janeiro for the first Earth Summit, she learned about the environmental problems across the globe.
In 2011, after her husband Jimmy McGilligan died, she moved to their home in Sanawadia village near Indore. And then, she kept her promise to the environment. The 74-year-old transformed her home and made it completely sustainable.
The zero-waste household generates no electricity bill. A windmill powers the house along with 50 other houses in the vicinity. She also grows organic produce of vegetables, pulses, rice, and spices in her garden which has 160 trees and 13 crops, and the food is cooked in solar cookers.
She also converts old newspapers into bricks and uses them to power the kitchen in the absence of the sun.
Janak is the founder and director of an Indore-based non-profit ‘Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development’ and the former director of Barli Development Institute for Rural Women.
Under her guidance, more than 1,50,000 youths and over 6,000 rural and tribal women from over 1,000 villages have been trained in solar cooking. Lovingly called Janak didi, she welcomes guests to give them tips on sustainable living.
In 2015, she was conferred with the Padma Shri for her social work.
(Edited by Pranita Bhat.)