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The best and worst shades of green

Bharati Chaturvedi writes about the worst scrapped project, most inspiring popular environmental movement, worst implemented green initiative and most neglected ecological spaces.

delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2010 23:54 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi

Worst scrapped project
The Silent Valley Hydro-electrical Project in Kerala, over the river Kunthipuzha in 1973. Had it gone though, it would have decimated the Silent Valley Rainforest, some of the richest biodiversity in India, and endemic animals like the Lion-tailed Macaque, an endangered monkey. The project was scrapped after public resistance in 1978 and the Silent Valley National Park inaugurated in 1985.

Most inspiring popular environmental movement
It has to be the Chipko Movement of the early 1970s, which started in Chamoli, Uttaranchal. Not only did the movement, spearheaded by village women, start a local movement to save the Himalayan forests, it also compelled attention to the idea of people owning local resources and their inclusion in policy making. The movement has since cascaded into several other local initiatives, such as the amazing Beej Bachao Andolan, which focuses on the bio-diversity of Garhwal, especially food.

Worst implemented green initiative
Let's hand it to our government. It has made a total mess of Project Tiger. When it was started in 1973, there were about 1,800 tigers in the wild, and just 268 covered by the project. Thirty-eight years later, we have about 1,400 or so individuals, down from a peak of around 3,000 and a slim chance of their survival in the wild. The key reasons are loss of habitat and poaching.

Most neglected ecological spaces
Cities. By 2026, a majority of Indians will be living in cities. Yet, planning and subsidies don't reflect the importance of these areas that can become the largest sources of carbon emissions. As a big fraction of urban dwellers are poor, they will be the hardest hit by the climate crisis. Yet, government schemes for cities do not mainstream environmental sustainability explicitly.