Save Bombay Committee
Education: B. A. Hons (Economics History) LL.B; Diplomas in Electrical Engineering and Prestressed Concrete
Freedom Fighter imprisoned in the Yervada Central Prison, Pune for eight months.
On release from the prison in 1943, conceived and completed the Indian National Exhibition depicting the history of the Indian peoples struggle for freedom beginning with the First War of Independence in 1857 and ending with the Quit India movement under the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The exhibition of posters, illustrations, translites was first inaugurated by Jayaprakash Narayan on the eve of independence in May 1947. The Exhibition toured the country including would be Pakistan areas during the years 1947-50 to be inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Azad, Achyut Patwardan, Kamaladevi etc at various locations in India viewed by about 50 lakhs visitors.
Conceived and completed `Himalaya Hamara Exhibition in 1963 at the time of the Chinese agression depicting the importance of the Himalaya to India and its people The exhibition put up in the Cross Maidan near Churchgate and Flora Fountain spread on 50,000 sq metres of land having a model admeasuring 150 metres by 80 metres and 10 metres high was viewed by 20 lakhs of people in 60 days. While presenting difficulties in defending the Himalaya due the terrain, the Exhibition showed the relevance and value of the Himalaya to the people of this country and called upon Indians to offer their supreme for the Himalaya, an eternal source of spiritual, cultural, religious social, and energy values for Indians for all the time.
Elected in 1968 to the Muncipal Corporation of Greater Bombay as a Municipal Councillor and as member and subsequently as Chairman of the BEST Undertaking providing public road road transport bus services as well as supplying electric supply to Muimbai. He transformed the BEST into a committed public service, a lifeline for commuters for affordable and efficient commuter service in Bombay and neighbouring areas. The municipalised BEST Undertaking employs 35,000, operates 3500 buses providing 45 lakh bus journeys and distributing 400 MW of electric power a day and is the world's largest public road transport agency.
He evolved "Electric Supply to Slums Scheme" for providing electric supply to slums and implemented the same throughout Bombay despite formidable government opposition and existence of a retrograde law. Inaugurated on 15 August 1971 in Dharavi, Bombay's most condemned slum colony, this unusual project has since been implemented in unauthorized slums by local authorities throughout the country bringing about a quantum transformation in the quality of life of the most unfortunate.
On realising that prime importance of protecting the environment and conserving finite natural resources, Kisan Mehta resigned from active politics, Municipal Councillorship and all elected posts as well as retired from personal private business in 1977 and has been devoting entire time, resources and energies to issues of environment protection, natural resource conservation, equity to all to natural resources of the earth, civil rights, gender equality to provide hope and self confidence to the shunned and the shunted.
Set up Save Bombay Committee (SBC) in 1973 and Prakruti in 1988 as public trusts and registered societies. The SBC works in the area of urban and regional planning and development to ensure equal opportunity for improving the quality of life to all citizens by avoiding crowding, and removing inequalities as well as for open spaces, afforestation, environment protection etc. It has supported agitation against megaprojects like Sardar Sarovar Dam on the River Narmada, Tehri Dam Project in Uttar Pradesh, Silent Valley Project in Kerala and many others throughout the country. Visited various European countries, Japan etc over five times to persuade the foreign governments to not to support India's mega projects that affect the poor.
He campaigned for organic cultivation of cotton taken up in Vidarbha, Maharashtra's cotton growing region, with 135 farmers cultivating organically on 1,200 hectares of their land in 1995. It was recognized internationally as the largest organic cotton cultivation project in the world for that season. It became the torch bearer for organic cultivation movement in the country.
Convinced on the need to protect the environment for the survival and sustenance of living beings, Kisan Mehta has assiduously worked for bringing about change in the country's legal structure as well as for assuring accountability and transparency in delivery of service to citizens. The Maharashtra Urban Areas Preservation and Protection of Trees Act, 1975 that came about following his working at the state level has been effective in stopping and controlling wanton destruction of trees in urban areas since. Following his working, the Central Government constituted for the first time the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1978 and enacted the Environment Protection Act in 1981.
His Public Interest Litigation against the Kerala Government proposal to establish hydroelectric project in the Silent Valley, the rain forest in Kerala, resulted in the government dropping the project altogether.
He visited the USA, Europe, Russia, Asian and Latin American Countries, etc for participating and presenting technical papers in UN and other conferences on urban issues, public health and waste management issues as well as on sustainable agriculture. An ardent lover of nature, Kisan Mehta endeavors to live a simple life demanding the minimum on the earth's natural resources.