Haryana citizens create ‘Green Manifesto’ before election - Hindustan Times
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Haryana citizens create ‘Green Manifesto’ before election

Jul 06, 2024 07:10 AM IST

People for Aravallis, a group of citizens and ecological experts working to conserve the Aravalli range, have prepared the initial draft of Haryana’s Green Manifesto 2024 for the first time in the state’s history

Citizens across Haryana have launched a critical initiative to put together what they have termed as a “Green Manifesto” to present to political parties ahead of this year’s upcoming assembly elections this year.

Over the next few weeks, the People for Aravallis team has said it will undertake a “massive outreach” to experts across various fields, youth, farmers, citizen groups, and representatives of vulnerable working sections like gig and sanitation workers across rural and urban areas of Haryana. (HT Photo)
Over the next few weeks, the People for Aravallis team has said it will undertake a “massive outreach” to experts across various fields, youth, farmers, citizen groups, and representatives of vulnerable working sections like gig and sanitation workers across rural and urban areas of Haryana. (HT Photo)

People for Aravallis, a group of citizens and ecological experts working to conserve the Aravalli range, have prepared the initial draft of Haryana’s Green Manifesto 2024 for the first time in the state’s history. The document, they say, is a first step towards outlining a vision of development for the state grounded in ecological and scientific values.

“As people living in the state with the lowest forest cover in the country (3.6% compared to the national average of 21%), extreme water stress, and bearing the brunt of heat wave conditions, they demand that the health of the entire state with all its natural ecosystems and inhabitants be at the forefront of decision-making by our elected representatives and policymakers based on principles of ecological wisdom, sustainability, social justice, and participatory democracy,” said Neelam Ahluwalia, founder-member of the group.

Over the next few weeks, the People for Aravallis team has said it will undertake a “massive outreach” to experts across various fields, youth, farmers, citizen groups, and representatives of vulnerable working sections like gig and sanitation workers across rural and urban areas of Haryana.

Ahluwalia said that the aim is to discuss the contents of the first draft of the Green Manifesto, add more points to the document, and build a consensus on the citizens’ demands. After this extensive consultation process, the final draft of Haryana’s Green Manifesto 2024 will be submitted to all political parties contesting the assembly elections this year.

This manifesto calls for an active response to environmental degradation and the climate crisis affecting the state. It emphasises that the health of the environment directly impacts the health of people, cattle, and wildlife dependent on it.

The United Nations has warned that the world is on the verge of a severe climate crisis due to human-induced global warming, and Haryana’s inhabitants are suffering with increased heatwaves and changing rainfall patterns. In May and June this year, Haryana experienced severe heatwave conditions, with temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius in Sirsa and 45-50°C in several other parts of the state.

“According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gases released by human activity have already caused the world to warm by 1.1°C. The battle to keep the threshold of the internationally agreed target of 1.5°C of global heating will be won or lost in this decade under the watch of our political leaders today,” said Ruchith Asha Kamal, deputy director, Climate Front India, who is working on stakeholder engagement for Haryana’s Green Manifesto.

“According to the Haryana State Climate Action Plan, 95% of Haryana’s 22 districts have a ‘high and medium climate risk score,’ with Nuh being the most vulnerable district. All residents, especially the youth, stand to be the most negatively impacted by the long-term effects of global warming and climate change. It is crucial to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, restore nature, and create a climate-resilient economy for Haryana where young people and our voiceless flora and fauna can thrive,” said Jashvir Singh, a 16-year-old student and youth member of People for Aravallis.

The Green Manifesto details the environmental and ecosystem issues plaguing Haryana. It states that 8.24% (364,154 ha) of the total geographical area of Haryana is degraded, which negatively impacts food and water security.

Haryana is also a water-deficit state, with annual groundwater withdrawal at 137% of its extractable groundwater resources. The quality of groundwater is assessed as “not good” in 45% of the state due to salinity and water logging in 10% of the area.

“Deforestation, illegal encroachments, mining, commercial projects, and landfills like Bandhwari, along with the absence of stringent policies and enforcement, threaten Haryana’s natural ecosystems. This results in the loss of green lungs, critical water recharge zones, wildlife habitats, and corridors. The health of any of Haryana’s natural and man-made ecosystems directly or indirectly impacts the others. While drafting the first Green Manifesto, we outlined the issues and demands for various ecosystems in the state, such as forests and hills, wetlands, groundwater, agriculture, air quality, and demands for heat, water, waste management, clean air, and pollution reduction. We believe this is an important first step towards a more sustainable future for Haryana,” said Ahluwalia.

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