When kids of her age are busy enjoying ice creams, nine-year-old Ridhima Pandey of Nainital, Uttarakhand, has set herself a tougher challenge.
Raising accountability of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Ridhima filed a PIL on March 29 demanding assessment of climate change, inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, and scrutiny of every single case of forest diversion.
The NGT has given two weeks to respondents, listing the next hearing for May 4.
A student of BMDAV Public School in Haridwar, Ridhima was exposed to forest and wildlife at the age of two. Credit goes to her mother, Vinita, who works with the forest department and wildlife activist father, Dinesh.
“At the age of two when kids were trying to speak, she already recognised voices of birds and animals,” Vinita told HT.
With age, Ridhima’s curiosity towards climate pattern grew as she noticed extreme climatic conditions, early blooming of flowers, and uncontrolled forest fire. She browsed Google to know about climate change and learnt about various global initiatives.
But Ridhima was disheartened to know how the country’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), released in June 2008 by Prime Minister’s Council of Climate Change, identifies development as its primary objective and climate change as a ‘co-benefit’. The report says, “It is not desirable to design strategies exclusively for responding to climate change.”
Ridhima said, “The MoEFCC and CPCB should take responsibility for not proactively working on climate change issues. There are committees and lot of paperwork but nothing on ground.” She questioned her father on how to push the government for undertaking responsibility, to which he suggested filing a PIL in the NGT.
“As soon as I told her about NGT, she insisted on filing a PIL the same day. But it took us about a year to actually prepare the litigation. Together with Ridhima, we did a lot of research and background work,” Dinesh said.
Ridhima said, “When I see my six-year-old brother sweating in summers, I get worried about him. I also worry about many other kids of my age who are moving towards a hotter future.”
The PIL mentions how the ‘34th report of CAG on Renewable Energy Sector mentioned how central government failed to meet its target for scaling up use of renewable energy sources under the NAPCC”.