Activists, Media, and the Government: Who cares for the environment?

By Ashish Kumar Nandan*

Have you ever noticed, what is your source of information? From where do you get the daily news? Is it social media, TV news or newspaper? Irrespective of the news, do you think you get all sort of information which is of monumental importance to you and the society? Well, I think, in the world where we have got ourselves busy unnecessarily, maybe we stick to the source which is readily available.

Coming to the point, we all know the importance of the environment because it has been taught to us since school days and various ways to contribute to a healthy environment. But today, when we need to take steps to encourage people to indulge in this noble cause, we have failed miserably. But wait! have we failed? Is it the government? Or maybe the media?

A lot is going on across the country and across the world in this regard. India is not behind in this race. In fact, our country is the one who took it to a different level. The deadliest massacre which happened back in 1730 where 362 people lost their lives happened in India, and these people sacrificed their lives for the love of the environment, and this incident is widely known as Bishnoi movement. This was the foundation which marked a lot of environmental movements thereon. Still, a lot of people who are concerned about the environment know that it is important to raise the awareness level among the people and the best way is to target schoolteachers of various areas because these teachers have a huge influence on the children who are in the impressionable age. The most important being guiding the teachers how to institutionalise this in the education system even though it was not a part of their curriculum. Luckily, we have got numerous people working on these lines and are hardly recognised, all thanks to the mainstream media. Much has changed, now we speak of development, where development is majorly linked to urbanisation and industrialisation.

The biggest trade-off where the central discussion for debate is, Industrial development versus environment. But have we ever tried to go deep down and understand the ground reality? Certainly not and maybe most of us would agree that destroying the environment and setting up factories & providing employment is of the greater good. But let us try to understand when these companies set up their unit, they do not pursue it on no man’s land. They promise to offer 700 jobs by making 10000 unemployed who were earning their livelihood independently without taking any grants from the government. The saddest part is, you still think that 9300 remained unemployed, No, they all 10000 lost their jobs because when these companies set up, they do not hire them, they hire people based on the requirement of the skills who come from outside. Essentially the lives of these 10000 people get ruined, and they gain nothing. (Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat)

We are basically suppressed by thinking that we need a lot of electricity and to generate that there is an urgent need for setting up this power plant at the cost of the invaluable environment. But what is the fact behind? Is every bit of what we hear is true? Unlikely! We mix and confuse the words energy and electricity and relate energy generation to electricity generation. But is that the case? No, In India only about 16% of the energy is consumed in the form of electricity.

Doing some basic maths tells us that the path we are heading where we give more credence to industrialisation is misguided, unnecessary and short-sighted. In 2019 India’s peak power demand in June was roughly 185000 megawatts whereas the installed capacity was almost double, i.e., 360000 megawatts. Now the question is, where is the power coming from? The fact is India has been a power surplus for four years since Nov 2015 in electricity. But now you might ask still the villages of most states are not lit? Thanks to the efficiency and effort made by the government, which has led to the poor distribution and transmission network and cherry on the cake is the fact that almost 140 power plants in India is lying idle. The reason for these state-run power plants lying idle is because there is no demand for power.

Government plays a very critical role in formulating policies. Talking of environment, the policies have remained the same irrespective of the government, but the current government is less receptive to advise from the environmental scientists of India. Their whole assumption is wrong in terms of forecast. Their model is dependent on the GDP, which is as high as 9% which our country is not going to achieve it even in the coming ten years, thanks to COVID19. The megaprojects of Adani’s, Essar etc. are being set up for these massively inflated projections and pushed for future which is essentially a mirage. In this process, the poor farmers with their little land are the most vulnerable one whose voices are never heard these days.

But who has the onus to tell us these things? The National media, but the sycophants in them has evolved over time and has become mega sycophants. They have become a source of entertainment, and unfortunately, they have forgotten the role of media. Nevertheless, the regional and the state media are much more sensitive to these issues, and at least they show interest to cover these activities which we never hear of. I hope one day, the one who talks so much about the holy cow would understand the importance of their natural place.

*Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, PGP Class of 2021. Source- Mr. Soumya Dutta

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