New Delhi: Since the widespread use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil in the early 18th century, the Earth has warmed by about 1 degree Celsius today. This has resulted in global warming. As the ghost of global warming haunts us, the changing climate system is displacing millions of people and destroying wildlife. This is an alarm bell for our common natural heritage. This indiscriminate exploitation of nature has created a big crisis for the world in front of the world.
It is the main environmental concern of the 21st century, leading to the beginning of environmental activism. It refers to the coming together of different groups of individuals and organizations working to address environmental concerns. Today we are going to talk about such environmental activists who have shown a different path to India’s climate movement.
1. Sunderlal Bahuguna
Sunderlal Bahuguna was an Indian environmentalist and a prominent leader of the Chipko movement. He fought for the conservation of forests in the Himalayas. In 1970, he fought for the first time as a member of the Chipko movement and later led the anti-Tehri Dam movement from 1980 to early 2004. We can say that he was one of the earliest environmentalists of India. As an environmental activist and an ardent defender of the Himalayan people and the rivers of India, she also worked to ameliorate the plight of the hill people, mainly working women. He was also associated with social movements and, before that, with the struggle against casteist discrimination. Inspired by Gandhi, he walked through the forests and hills of the Himalayas and covered a distance of more than 4700 kms. He was given the Padma Shri award by the Government of India, but he declined it.
2. Anupam Mishra
Anupam Mishra was a well-known Gandhian, journalist, author, environmentalist and water conservationist. He was working in the direction of raising public awareness about environmental protection and attracting the attention of the governments, when no department of environmental protection was opened in the country. His work place was in drought-hit Alwar, where he started the work of water conservation which was seen and appreciated by the world. Anupam Mishra used to roam the villages of India to make people aware about the traditional ways of saving water and conserving water. He has done important work in the revival of the dried up Arvari river in Alwar. Similarly, he has done important work in the direction of rejuvenation of traditional water sources in Uttarakhand and Lapodia of Rajasthan. The books written by him, ‘Aaj Bhi Khare Hai Talab’ and ‘Rajat Drops of Rajasthan’ are considered as milestones in the field of water conservation. Apart from this, he told in the country and abroad how people living in different parts of India, understanding their geographical location, availability of resources and needs, adopt effective methods of water conservation. He has also been honored with the country’s highest environmental award ‘Indira Gandhi Environment Award’.
3. Sunita Narayan
Sunita Narayan is a renowned environmentalist from India. Currently Director General of the Center for Science and Environment and editor of the fortnightly magazine Down to Earth. He has worked on rainwater harvesting and its policy implications in building paradigms for community based water management. For decades, she has been working to spread awareness about the basic problems of the environment and society. For the upliftment of the society, he has worked on the problems related to water, issues related to nature and environment etc. She advocates for solutions to create a coexistence agenda with local communities, to share the benefits of conservation and secure a future. In 2005, he chaired the Tiger Task Force on the Prime Minister’s instructions to develop an action plan for conservation in the country after the loss of tigers in Sariska. Apart from environmental issues, she expresses her views on Naxalism, political corruption, tiger and tree conservation and other social issues. In 2005 he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India.
4. Marimuthu Yoganathan
Marimuthu Yoganathan is popularly known as The Tree Man of India. He is also known as ‘Green Warrior’. Yoganathan is an Indian environmental activist. He is a bus conductor in Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and is well known as an eco-activist. He also received recognition from US based footwear company Timberland for his outstanding work in planting about 3 lakh saplings across the state. He also made the students aware about environmental protection. Yoganathan has visited about 3,743 universities, colleges, schools and industries and has taken classes to raise environmental awareness. Yoganathan also received an award for his pet project, “Uirvaza Oru Marn”. Under this, students have been taught to plant a sapling on their birthday. He has been honored with the “Eco Warrior” award by the Vice President of India.
5. Rajendra Singh ‘Jalpurush’
Rajendra Singh is an Indian water conservationist and environmentalist. He is known as the ‘Waterman of India’. His place of work was Alwar, Rajasthan, where he is working to revive the dried up rivers. At present, they are working to save rivers by roaming all over the country. He won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2001 for his pioneering work in community-based efforts in water harvesting and water management. He runs an NGO named ‘Tarun Bharat Sangh’ (TBS), which was established in 1975. He has been instrumental in fighting slow bureaucracy and mining lobby in village Kishori-Bhikampura in Thanagazi tehsil near Sariska Tiger Reserve. They have helped villagers take charge of water management in their semi-arid areas through the use of johads, rainwater storage tanks, dams and other time-tested as well as pioneering techniques.