Mr. Anuvrata K. Roy, universally known as Dunu Roy, has played the role of an engineer away from the beaten track. His work has been path breaking as it has shown how an engineer who works at grassroots level needs to combine understanding of social, cultural, environmental issues with technological issues.
Even while at IIT, Dunu and a group of fellow-students were engaged in trying to assess how their knowledge could help in solving problems of the poor. For this, they started work in villages near Bombay.
Dunu’s major contribution came in his work at Shahdol, M.P. He first went to Shahdol as a part of a team of students from IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur to study the impacts of the paper mill located at Amlai near Shahdol. He shifted to a small town called Annupur and started a small motor repairing workshop as a way of getting to meet the local people. This workshop metamorphosed into the ‘Vidushak Karkhana. A few more people joined Dunu and the Shahdol Group came into being a start a community living experiment. One of the most significant studies carried out by the Group was the regional environment planning study, which actually was a study encompassing the history, resource base, culture etc. of the area, and evolved a development plan based on this.
The Shahdol Group emerged as a major centre of intellectual thought on these issues, and became a centre attracting visitors- Students, academics, activists, journalists – not only from all over India, but also from all over the world.
It is a centre which broke new ground and tread new paths, setting in motion innovative methods of intellectual inquiry and social activism, and has become an important landmark in the history of the social, environmental, people-oriented movements in India. Even today, the Vidushak Karknana is active, and Dunu continues to guide it.