Radha Mohan, a former Odisha information commissioner and a retired professor of economics, passed away, aged 78, at a private hospital in Bhubaneshwar, last night. He was suffering from bronchial asthma along with other co-morbidities and was admitted to the hospital a few days ago when his health deteriorated.
Three decades ago, Radha Mohan and his daughter Sabarmatee founded Sambhav, a farmer resource centre where numerous vanishing food crops were grown organically. They trained local farmers on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation. Through their ‘Adopt a seed’ programme, interested farmers were given climate-resilient indigenous seeds and were asked to take a pledge to preserve them.
They both were honoured with Padma Shri in 2020 for their work in organic farming in the field of agriculture. Their achievement in converting a section of damaged land into a massive food forest, as well as Sambhav’s efforts in sustainable development and gender justice, were nationally recognised.
They began by buying an acre of degraded land in Nayagarh district and started planting trees on it. This transformed into 890 acres of forestation with three rainwater harvesting ponds and 500 varieties of rice. It is also home to nearly 1,000 species of plants.
President Ram Nath Kovind, condoling Radha Mohan’s demise, tweeted, “Prof Radhamohan was as inspiring an economist as an environmentalist. A profound scholar, he turned to organic farming to enrich nature and humanity. His demise will leave a void. My condolences to his family and followers.”
Prof Radhamohan was as inspiring an economist as an environmentalist. A profound scholar, he turned to organic farming to enrich nature and humanity. His demise will leave a void. My condolences to his family and followers.
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) June 11, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered his condolences on Twitter.
Prof Radhamohan Ji was deeply passionate about agriculture, especially adopting sustainable and organic practices. He was also respected for his knowledge on subjects relating to the economy and ecology. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 11, 2021
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also expressed his sorrow and support to their family through a tweet.
Deeply saddened to know the passing away of Gandhian and Padma Shri awardee Prof Radhamohan. An economist turned environmentalist had distinguished contribution to sustainable organic farming. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family members and well-wishers.
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) June 11, 2021
Radha Mohan was born in 1943 in Nayagarh district. He graduated in Economics from SCS College in Puri and did his post-graduation in Applied Economics from Utkal University in 1965. He worked as the principal of SCS College and later was appointed as state information commissioner in 2011.
The Odisha state government had awarded him with Utkal Seva Samman for his outstanding social service. He had also received United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s ‘The Global Roll of Honour’ for his distinguished work for the environment.