Happy Earth Day. No, I am not being sarcastic. Take a moment to see how many people out there are fighting to safeguard the environment and often, their own livelihoods so closely linked with those. In Uttar Pradesh's Mehdiganj district, local protests over water extraction and use by Coke are only growing.
The villagers blame Coke's dependence on underground water for depleting resources for their own farming and survival. In Delhi, residents in some parts of South Delhi are fighting against a waste-to-energy plant that is spewing toxics on their homes and in the air.
They want the plant closed down. In the North East, there is a steadfast fight against a barrage of dams that will irreversibly alter the landscape and fragile ecology. Several environmentalists are worried about the deadly impacts of the 204 meter high Lakhwar Vyasi dam proposed to be build on the Yamuna, in Dehradun district. Apart from the forest and land loss, it is also arguably dangerous because it is an area which is earthquake prone, and can cause severe flooding downstream, including in Delhi. And these are just a few cases.
On Earth Day, we should take a moment to acknowledge that some of India's green battles have had a happy ending only because ordinary Indians battle for sustainability. But, on the eve of elections, our political parties should acknowledge them too. They must pay heed to what the people want for the planet.