The recent blackout in the North and North-East of India that plunged 600 million people into darkness at least shed some light on something we all take for granted - Electricity. While 40 percent of Indians still have no access to electricity, do the rest of us ever question where the electricity we enjoy comes from and at what cost? Today, Brikesh Singh, a Greenpeace activist, begins his journey to answer this question.
He is a cycling enthusiast, climber and a movie buff, a regular bloke at first glance, but he stands out in his thirst to question generally accepted norms. Brikesh grew up in a humble Mumbai locality and has been with Greenpeace for the last 10 years. His activism has taken him from the chimney tops of thermal power plants to the roof top of the British parliament, all for the cause of saving the environment.
Today his cause affects every Indian and is something that all of us must challenge: Saving our forests and wildlife from coal mining. His journey will take him all across the country raising awareness about deforestation and the displacement of wildlife and forest communities in Central India to facilitate coal mining. His foremost aim is to challenge the blatant double standards of the Indian government. While India is hosting the Convention on Biological Diversity in October the government is not committed to protect the last remaining biological hotspots in our country.
In September Brikesh will live on a tree for a month in Chandrapur, an area close to the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve, where coal mining is destroying the forest. All he wants to do is draw attention to the fact that forests are destroyed for coal and our tigers are losing their natural habitat to coal mining.
About 70% of India’s electricity is generated from coal-fired thermal plants, even as the huge potential of solar and wind energy is neglected by the government. Developing sustainable energy can save our forests and prevent future power outages.
As Ashish Fernandes, Coal Campaigner, Greenpeace says, “The blackout is a wake-up call for the government to revisit its unsustainable energy policy. We need to diversify our power generation sources as well as our distribution model – renewable energy and energy efficiency can no longer be given step-motherly treatment. Locking the country into a coal intense pathway is going to be disastrous for the country, and will not guarantee us power.”
As Brikesh leaves his city home for a tree in Chandrapur, we can all help protect our forests and wildlife by becoming more aware about this issue and by keeping an eye on what’s really happening to our forests and wildlife as we go about our lives in the city. To help protect our forests and wildlife sign the petition that will be given to the Prime Minister. Visit www.junglistan.org/home.
Courtesy of Greenpeace India