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ESG Team



Leo final   Leo F. Saldanha is full-time Coordinator of ESG. He has gained wide-ranging experience in the areas of Environmental Law and Policy, Decentralisation, Urban Planning and a variety of Human Rights and Development related issues, working across many sectors for over a decade. He is a keen campaigner on critical environmental and social justice issues and has guided several campaigns demanding evolution of progressive laws and effective action. He has creatively supported various distressed communities to secure justice through public interest litigations and advocacy efforts, arguing as party in person several public interest litigations, many of which have resulted in remarkable judgments. In 2007, he co-authored the book Green Tapism: A Review of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification-2006” (2007) with team members at ESG. He has since co-authored "Tearing through the Water Landscape: Evaluating the envionmental and social consequences of POSCO project in Odisha, India" (2011), "Forfeiting our Commons: A Case for Protecting and Conserving Challakere's Amrit Mahal Kavals as Livelihoods-Supporting, Biodiversity-Rich and Ecologically-Sensitive Grassland Ecosystems" (2013), and a comprehensive review report of Environmental Decision Making in Karnataka State, in particular the State Environmental Clearance Committee (2014), amongst others. His papers and articles have appeared in many leading new papers, journals and magazines. Recently, he has contributed papers in "India's Risks: Democraticing the Management of Threats to Environment, Health and Values" (OUP, 2014) and "Living Rivers, Dying Rivers" (OUP, 2015). Leo facilitates a variety of learning programmes on environmental and social justice concerns for a wide range of audiences. He was the Country Coordinator and Faculty of the "Cities in the 21st Century" and "Health and Community" courses of the International Honours Programme, USA (2002-2009) and Co-Director of the Minnesota Studies in International Development, University of Minnesota (2014-2017). He has a background in Environmental Science and has been invited as a speaker by organisations and universities across the world. In August 2010, he was invited as a speaker at the International Forum on China's Rural Reform in the 12th Five-Year Plan Period organised by the  Chinese Insitute for Reform and Development, a Chinese Government think-tank for reform in policy decision-making. In recognition of his contribution to environmental and social justice efforts, Association for India's Development, USA, made him their first  Saathi. Email. leosaldanha[@]esgindia.org

Bhargavi final  Bhargavi S. Rao
 graduated in Environmental Science and is a Botanist with an M’Phil degree in Aerobiology from Bangalore University. She also has a post graduate diploma in Journalism. Her initial research experience was in the areas of Microbiology and Cell Biology and she has worked at the Microbiology and Cell Biology Department of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. She has co-authored research papers in journals like Current Science and  Virology. She has had teaching experience as a lecturer in Botany and Microbiology at The BMS College for Women, Bangalore and also as a high School Teacher in Geography and Economics at the Sri Aurobindo Memorial School, Bangalore. Her interest in Environmental and Social justice issues brought her to Environment Support Group (ESG), where she has taken a leading role in a wide variety of Research and Educational projects and Campaign initiatives. She coordinates educational and training programmes at ESG with a focus on enhancing awareness and critical engagement in social and environmental justice issues. She has co-worked as Coordinator and faculty of the India sector of the ‘Cities of the 21st Century’ and ‘Health and Community’ courses of the International Honors program, a study abroad program from 2002-2009.   Bhargavi was Co-Director of the India Centre of the Minnesota Studies in International Development, a division of the Learning Abroad Centre of University of Minnesota, USA (2014-2017). Bhargavi has also been a guest faculty at the Simpson Centre for Humanities, Washington University, Seattle in 2013. She has been a co-speaker at many of the talks and workshops on the issues of Environment and Social Justice in Universities across USA, Germany, Vietnam and China. In recognition of her long standing contribution in the voluntary sector, the Association for India’s Development has awarded her the AID “Saathiship” (2010-2013).  Her interests include Environmental Education, Experiential Education, Environmental health, Biodiversity, Traditional and Indigenous knowledge, Governance, Gender Issues, Law, Public Policy and Urban and Community studies. Bhargavi coordinates educational programmes in ESG.  She is currently on a sabbatical from ESG and is associated with Azim Premji Philathropic Initiatives.


Joe Athialy   Joe Athialy is Executive Director of Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi.  He has previously worked with the Bank Information Centre, Amnesty International, Narmada Bachao Andolan, and various other human rights and accountability institutions in leading positions. He is a key organiser on issues of accountability of International and National financial institutions with regard to the impact of their activities on human rights and environment.   




Dr. Shirdi Prasad Tekur  Dr. Shirdi Prasad Tekur, MBBS, MCH, following an illustrious career in the Armed Forces Medical Core, retired as Captain from the Indian Army.  He has since worked in the formation of the Community Health Cell (now Sochara), in establishing Community Health Departments in varoius hospital and medical collesges, and is a much sought after General Physician and Paediatrician.  He has extensive training experience in various public health and counselling services, and is also a consultant on disaster management and rehabiliation matters. He is also widely consulted on AYUSH systems.



Arthur Periera   Arthur Pereira is an active human rights activist in Mangalore and has successfully led the demand for fair compensation by Dalit and minority communities due to the Bajpe airport for over a decade now. He played a key role in mobilizing communities affected by the Airport expansion plan in Bajpe and also fought the expansion of the airport at the State High court and later at the Supreme Court on grounds of safety.  He is well versed on matters relating to Land Acquisition and has helped hundreds of farmers to benefit from the provisions of Land Reforms Act. His expertise also lies in building homes and rain water harvesting units to ease the struggle for water in major cities such as Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore. 


Robert John Chandran   Dr. Robert John Chandran is a Tropical Plant Ecologist and works full time as Associate Professor at Indian Institute of Science Education and Reasearch, Kolkota. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Bangalore. He has worked as a Smithsonian Fellow at the Dept. of Botany, University of Georgia, USA and University of Illinois. He has a Ph.D. from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and his past degrees include M. Sc. and M Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. His research interests include tropical forest ecology and management, conservation biology, protected area management and land use policy.  


ESG Team



swetha rao dhanankaDr. Swetha Rao Dhananka is a sociologist and consults with ESG in matters of urban governance, preparation of trainings for various audiences, participatory processes, fund raising and optimizing organizational learning. She obtained her PhD from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and was a post-doc fellow at the Development Planning Unit at UCL (London) and the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (Bangalore). Swetha has research and teaching background in social work, political science and human geography. Her research examines urbanisation in the Global South – particularly with regard to its social effects, various institutional responses and political claim-making.  Email:swetha[@]esgindia.org

Mallesh- new

   Mallesha K. R. is with ESG from the time of its inception. He has a degree in Sociology and has more than two decades of experience in field  assisting in various ESG campaigns, educational programmes, Public Interest Litigation and administration work. He hails from Coorg and has a deep understanding of the agricltural practices in India and the changing scenario. He was invited to University of Washington Seattle in 2013 for giving a talk titled “Who knows what, what it means”. Presently, he is the Field Coordinator and he plans and implements programmes in rural areas of Karnataka. Email:mallesh[@]esgindia.org 



Harsh Vardhan Bhati   Harsh Vardhan Bhati is a Legal Research Associate at ESG. He graduated with an LL.M. specialization in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law at Lewis & Clark Law School (Portland, Oregon) During his LL.M., he participated in International Environmental Law Project, where he prepared a legal memo regarding Japan's new whaling regulation NEWREP-A and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. His thesis was on the contrast between the United States and India in the constitutional protection of tribes’ sacred sites. He received his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from Jindal Global Law School, India. He was part of the Centre for Rural Governance, Citizen Participation Clinic and did clinical work issues such as poverty eradication, right to education, legal awareness in rural areas, and women’s right and access to housing, water and education in the outskirts of New Delhi and Haryana. Harsh participated in a Sustainable Leadership Program at Amazon Summer School (Brazil 2014), where he developed a deep-seated relationship with local communities, wildlife and nature. In 2016, he participated in the Legal Practicum Seminar in Ecuador and taught classes in Amazon Summer School, as an Apprentice Program Coordinator. Email: harsh[@]esgindia.org 


Apoorva Patil    Dr. Apoorva V Patil graduated in Dentistry and has a Masters in Public Health from Manipal University, with a focus in Environmental and Occupational Health. She has experience with health and hygiene education for school children. She has worked in primary healthcare centres through a public-private partnership model and achieved International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). She has also worked in the field of Maternal and Child Health Services. She has engaged with digitization and used technology in order to improve health services.  Email: apoorva[@]esgindia.org



    Pushpalatha B has a Bachelors Degree in commerce, with Diploma in Secretarial Practice and P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from Mysore University. Pushpa has earlier worked with children away from school and helped in bringing them into mainstream schooling. She has a deep understanding of rural school education and health system. In ESG she works as Library and Logistics Manager. She has experience of nearly two decades in office administration, accounts, documentation, training activities, fellowship programmes, preparation of training manuals and HR activities. In ESG she works as Library and Logistics Manager where she manages the ESG library and assists in administrative, educational and training activities. Email: pushpa[@]esgindia.org 


Namrata    Namrata Kabra is a lawyer with a B.A., L.LB from Karnataka State Law University, Hubli, and is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma in Tourism and Environmental Law from National Law University, Delhi.  Namrata is actively involved in a variety of litigation and educative initiatives at ESG in her position of full time Legal Research Associate. Email: namrata[@]esgindia.org




Susheelamma    Susheelamma ensures everyone at ESG eats wholesome and healthy food.     





    S. Subha supports in the upkeep of ESG office and ensures we have a clean and healthy place to work.






T. B. Dinesh   Dr. T.B Dinesh is the Founder and technology Director of Servelots (1999), which develops cost effective open source solutions and services. Servelots develops Pantoto, a collaborative open source platform.Dinesh is also an active member of the environmental group Hasiru Usiru and has provided open source web-based technology support to National Folk lore institute, and various community based tourism initiatives, pastoral communities as well as NGOs through Janastu (a non-profit trust). His current projects also involve browser based Open Course Ware in Computer Science education and Web accessibility for Inclusion of non-literate communities. Email:dinesh[@]servelots.com


Madhu Bhushan   Madhu Bhushan worked with Vimochana, meaning liberation, initiated in 1979 by women and men from within the Centre for Informal Development Studies (CIEDS)collective, that had come together in 1975 to seek a just, humane and creative society rooted in transformative politics. Vimochana grew out of the need for a public forum that would stand for organised resistance to the increasing violence on women and would be assertive in challenging the pervading apathy to the problems of women in the context of larger structures of violence and power. Madhu is a leading activist in India to assert the rights of women and disenfranchised communities.  She is currently an independent researcher. mail: madhu_bhushan2005[@]yahoo.co.in