Looking beyond World Environment Day

By Azera Rahman


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New Delhi : Another World Environment Day has come and gone, but more and more committed young people are determined not to address the issue of deforestation, wildlife preservation and pollution control as just a one-day commemoration event.

Sweena Ganguly is one such motivated young girl who is trying her best to spread awareness about the issue and doing her bit in getting the problem under control. And not just as a one-off activity.

"People keep talking about what one should do about the environment but what I ask them back is what are they doing about it?" said the 20-year-old. "As for myself, I organize events at our local club where the kids from my locality either plant trees or put up plays on issues like saving water and trees.

"Besides these, I have my voluntary work at Green Peace, an international NGO which works on environment related issues," Ganguly said, as she distributed pamphlets that urge people to use CFL bulbs instead of the normal bulbs to save energy.

Sneha Dutta, 21, is another youngster who is a firm believer that environment-related issues need to be addressed immediately. A student of social work as well as a wild life photographer, Dutta has been volunteering at Toxics Link, an environmental NGO in New Delhi, for nearly a month.

"I am a firm believer of the fact that development and environment have to go hand in hand if we, as a human race, want to survive. Innumerable trees getting chopped down because of the High Capacity Bus Service (HCBS) corridor or the Delhi metro doesn't make any sense," a confident Dutta told IANS.

Determined to take up the cause of the environment at a professional level, she wants to tackle the issue of poaching head on.

"Wild life photography is my passion which I have been pursuing for the past five years now. Poaching is an issue that has always haunted me. I really want to do something about it. Hence I am in this field," Dutta said.

Similarly, 26-year-old Supriya Singh is planning to take up the cause of environment at a professional level. A Ph.D student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), she has been volunteering with Swechha, another environmental NGO, but now plans to join them professionally.

The decision came in after Supriya along with three other students took part in Swechha's initiative, the Youth Yatra. An international programme which had students from Sri Lanka, Finland and Britain besides India taking part in it , the yatra involved tracing the Yamuna, right from its origin, the pristine Yamunotri all the way to Agra.

"The yatra was something of an eye opener for all of us. When we witnessed the crystal clear river turning murky and unbearably dirty by the time it leaves the capital, we were shocked at our own insensitivities.

"After coming back from the trip, I thought about it a lot and decided that I am not going to let it become a one event kind of thing and I will do something about it. Since I like to write, I have been writing articles about the issue and also putting up workshops whereby people, especially the youth, are made aware of the harm that their junk can cause the holy river," Singh said.

While youth's motivated spirit does look encouraging, it cannot be overlooked that their number is just a handful.

Parvindar Singh of Toxics Link told IANS: "The number of young people coming in to do something about environment-related issues is small, but nevertheless it is encouraging.

"They are a small group of strong willed individuals who are ready to go out in the heat and do whatever they can to bring about a change. Given the right kind of platform which we fail to give them at times, there will be more who will be ready to volunteer".

Vimlendu Jha, director of Swechha, similarly believes that despite the numbers being small, there is an immense potential among youth in bringing about a change in environment-related issues.

"Fifty percent of our country is below the age of 25. We are a young country and if those among youth who are working on environment-related issues are motivated enough, the whole country can be on the move," he said confidently.

And motivated they are. Prarthana Chanana, 21, is a spirited young woman who is all for working for the betterment of the environment and getting more youngsters involved in the move.

A mass communication student who is also volunteering in an environmental NGO, she said: "I want to become an information officer in an environmental NGO. Most of the times young people want to do something about the environment but don't know where to go. I will help them there."