Indians are pushing the green envelope even further. Activist Amit Jethwa, fighting to protect the Gir forests, was murdered last week. Just before, Professor Agarwal began a fast unto death because the government did a U-turn on its commitment about cleaning the Ganga.
In Sompetha, 4 villagers were killed in police firing when they tried to stop a firm from coming into their wetlands to work on a power plant. Ironically, in this matter, we have become like China, where hundreds of such incidents over natural resources take place yearly. It’s also an indictment of our failing democracy, when the aam aadmi is so pushed to the wall that life is the last tool left in his armoury.
The Green Tribunal
For this decade, the ministry of forests and environment forgot to protect our forests. To make up for lost time, it’s pushed through Parliament, the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009. The problem is the bill needs a serious rethink to be any good.
Imagine this: What if you got ill due to pollution from an industrial cluster next door, couldn’t work and stayed at home, spending money on medicines? How would the bill help you? It might not. To begin with, it seems to imply that only communities will be considered as impacted and not individuals. You’d also continue to be at the mercy of babus.
But the environment needs others — people who understand social sciences, NGOs with experience. If the environment is to be protected, this bill must be amended before the President signs off on it.