From the Viewsroom

Green quotient ignored

Preeti Mehra | Updated on May 26, 2019 Published on May 26, 2019

No party focussed on crucial environment issues this election

It is high time environmental concerns figured prominently in our electoral narrative. We have just completed the process of electing representatives to the 17th Lok Sabha with no commitment from any major political party of ensuring the health and longevity of Planet Earth. In fact, depleting green cover, water scarcity, global warming, pollution and land degradation did not figure prominently in any of their manifestos. Instead, we have had politicians sermonising on religion, caste, national security, GDP growth and a host of other poll-time clichés.

Compare this with the political concerns raised in Australia which went to polls earlier this month. One of the key issues was the threat of climate change and the proposed Adani coal mining project in Queensland. Australia witnessed massive demonstrations during the election campaign which focussed on protecting the Great Barrier Reef from mining activity and saving the koala forests which cover 20 per cent of the continent. And in the US, despite Trump and his indifference to global warming, there are senators like Michael Bennet, a Democratic presidential contender for 2020, unveiling plans on how he will combat climate change and reduce emissions. Ditto in Germany and Britain where Green politics is an emerging factor in elections.

Not so in India. This is unfortunate because we will be the worst hit by climate change, according to an assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ISRO’s satellite mapping reveals that 55,02,860 hectares of our forests have turned brown. The Central Water Commission reports that 91 major reservoirs across the country currently have only 22 per cent of its storage capacity. Trees are being cut indiscriminately in the Capital and its NCR region to give way to new colonies and commercial complexes. Then there is the problem of tackling urban waste, rising sea levels, land degradation, water and air pollution. The prognosis is indeed grim. Unfortunately, the environment does not have a place in the caste-religion-economic reforms matrix that our political class is obsessed with. It’s time we raised the green bar.

Published on May 26, 2019
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