Wind Under The Wings Award (2009)
For his brilliant investigative stories and his dogged pursuit of those who would violate the environmental and conservation laws of the land.
Week after week for the past three years, Vijay Pinjarkar, Special Correspondent with the Times of India, has investigated scores of environmental stories, in the process unearthing dark and hidden secrets that many powerful people would have preferred to kill. In his mission to search for the truth he has been supported by the editorial staff of the Times of India Nagpur, despite pressures to dilute, or dismiss the reports. In a few short years, Pinjarkar has become one of India’s most prolific and consistent wildlife journalists. He attributes his awakening to the first, real wildlife experiences he gained while participating in a tiger pugmark and waterhole census in the Pench Tiger Reserve in 2001.
Since then his writings have consistently highlighted the contribution of tiger forests to the water security and the economic survival of Nagpur. The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court has taken suo motu notice of his reports and forced action to be taken by the government. Most recently, his hard-hitting report on the dangers to tigers from four-laning the National Highway between Sakoli and Deori, led to the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee and the office of the Central Forest and Environment Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, holding back forest clearance to the project. Pinjarkar is currently investigating the false claims made by scores of coal-mine operators to obtain wrongful environmental clearances at locations they claimed were more than 15 kms. away from the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.