While 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden is making headlines across the world with her Climate Action Movement called ‘Friday For Futures’, there is an 11-year-old girl from India, who has challenged Indian Government by filing a Plea against them in Supreme Court. Her plea says India is one of the weakest nations in taking actions against the climate change crisis.
Ridhima Pandey, 11 from Haridwar, Uttarakhand is actively fighting climate change and has filed a petition in the Supreme Court accusing India’s Central Government of not taking appropriate action for the climate crisis. Her petition highlights India as one of the weakest nations when it comes to dealing with climate change. She has demanded from the court that industrial projects should be assessed and a nationwide plan should be implemented to limit the CO2 emissions.
Inspired from Kedarnath Flood 2013
On being asked about what inspires her, she says ‘Kedarnath Floods of 2013’.
“I felt so bad for the kids who lost their parents. I was thinking about how they would survive without their homes. They have done nothing to suffer so much. I realised that all this is because of climate change,” she was quoted by The Logical Indian.
“Our government is working on paper, less on the ground,” she said in a conversation with PTI.
Filed a Petition in 2017?
Ridhima currently studying in Class 8th made headlines for the first time in 2017 when she filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the government for failing to take action on climate change.
Her petition highlighted the growing concern over pollution and environmental degradation in India. She acclaimed that India is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change crisis and climate action.
However, NGT declined her petition saying “climate change was already covered under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).” The tribunal said that the authorities acting under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 have to perform their obligation of impact assessment as per statutory scheme which was not challenged in her plea.
This is what led her to plead before the Supreme Court regarding the matter.
Attended UN Climate Action Summit 2019
The 11-year-old environmental activist also attended the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit in September-2019 in New York with Greta Thunberg and other child activists namely Alexandria Villasenor, Chiara Sacchi, Catarina Lorenzo, Iris Duquesne, Raina Ivanova, David Ackley III, Ranton Anjain, Litokne Kabua, Deborah Adegbile, Carlos Manuel, Ayakha Melithafa, Ellen-Anne, Raslen Jbeili and Carl Smith.
The 16 child petitioners had filed a complaint to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis. These young activists accused 5 major countries viz criticized Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey for failing to fulfil their duty towards their young people by not taking any strict action against climate change crisis.
Ridhima told PTI that she learned that there is an organisation looking for young people working for climate change. She interviewed with them in August 2019, told them about her petition and other environment-related work. Once she got selected, she was asked to travel to Oslo, New York to join the UN Summit.
Ridhima’s father Dinesh Pandey, who accompanied her to New York says “To see children from all over the world coming together for such an important issue is heartening. They are aware of the environment and worried about the future.”
He further added “The governments and politicians have no concern for the ecology at all. They are fooling and cheating us. They are hungry for power and nobody is bothered about the future generations.”
India’s Greta Thunberg
Ridhima is being titled as India’s Greta Thunberg for her concern and actions for climate change and the protection of the environment. When she was asked about how she feels when she is called ‘Indian Greta Thunberg’, she responded saying “It is good that I am being compared to Greta Thunberg but everyone has their own identity.”
Highlighting the difference between her and Greta, she added “Greta is doing a great job internationally by spreading awareness about climate change and urging everyone to take action. But at the same time, it is a little burdening because my efforts are currently restricted to India and sensitizing children in this country.”
Taking the Climate Change Responsibility
Ridhima Pandey is willing to take the responsibility to spread awareness amongst children in India about climate change. She says “I am happy that through my speeches and activities, children are getting inspired. They are getting involved and understand the damage done to the environment. Through these children, the adults are also getting inspired and taking up the job of protecting the environment.”
Ridhima also looks forward to opening her own NGO which will be focused on connecting children with Mother Nature. Describing her vision, she said “It will include all the activities to save nature and minimise the harm that human beings have done. The NGO is registered and it will start functioning in the coming years.”
Ridhima on Ganga cleaning issue:
Apart from insisting government take climate action, Ridhima has been actively involved in the Ganga River Cleaning issue as well. She if affirmative about how there has not been any notable progress in the Ganga Cleaning. Ganga travels 253 kilometres from its source Gangotri before entering the Gangetic plain in Haridwar.
Even though the river is one of the biggest sources of domestic water supply for a major part of the country, a vast amount of waste goes untreated into the river like polythene bags, garbage and industrial effluent etc.
“The government said they cleaned it but it’s not true. We consider Ganga as our ‘Maa’ (mother). Yet we wash our clothes and throw waste in it. The government claims its cleaning but there is hardly any change in the condition of the river. It is still polluted. The government must take proactive measures,” Ridhima said.
Ridhima tells that even though her home town Haridwar is a religiously important city for a great population of India, the air & the water in the city are highly polluted.
The 11-year-old environment warrior also said “If we as consumers stop using plastic, companies will stop manufacturing it,” while asking for a strict & complete prohibition on plastic use.
Author: Keshav Kothari
A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.