Environmental advocacy as critical component of environmental education bhargavi china_aug09

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  • 1. Environmental Advocacy as a Critical Component of Environmental Education Paper Submitted to Asian Forum for Cross-Cultural Dialogues August 14 th -20 th 2009 Beijing Jointly organized by the Institute of World Literature and the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, Peking University, China; Global Citizens for Sustainable Development, India; and Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany; with the support of La fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le progrès de l'homme (FPH) and the Beijing Eco Group (BEG). Bhargavi S.Rao Environment Support Group 1572, 36 th Cross Outer Ring Road, Banshankari 2 nd Stage, Bangalore-70 Tel:91-80-26713559/60 Email: [email_address] Website: http//: www.esgindia.org
  • 2. Engaging with the Forest department
    • Handigondi Rock is over 2.5 billion years old and is a major geological landmark. It is home to various endangered species
    • Sanghamitra Foundation proposed to carve a 700 ft. Buddha statue to compensate the loss of Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan
    • The real intent of the developers was to encroach the forest with a 2000 acres resort
  • 3. Engaging with the Forest Department
    • By the time news had got out, all clearances had been obtained in collusion of corrupt forest officials
    • ESG and other groups decided to oppose the move and organised a massive protest and nation-wide media campaign
    • Embarassed with this exposure, the Forest Department reversed its decision, and declared the region a Sloth Bear Sanctuary
  • 4.
    • Tanks/Lakes in South India are built structures to harvest rain and surface runoff from the undulating terrain
    • There are thousands dotting the landscape and they several are hundreds of years old
    • They represent the social intelligences of past generations in conserving monsoon runoff and building water security for agriculture and human consumption
    • They form a critical social and cultural space and are the public commons
    • They have always been maintained by local communities, till this practice was abandoned during the British times and in post-independent India
    Engaging People and Judiciary in Conserving Lakes
  • 5. Engaging People and Judiciary in Conserving Lakes
    • Urbanisation has destroyed most lakes that dotted the landscape due to encroachment and pollution
    • Governments and local communities have struggled to stop the destruction of these critical waterbodies and functional ecosystems
    • As a result surface and ground water networks are in crisis aided as they are by over-exploitation
    • Cities in Bangalore are reeling from serious water problems
    • Government’s failure to conserve lakes has resulted in a policy of privatising these public commons and commercialise them as water theme parks
  • 6. Engaging People and Judiciary in Conserving Lakes
    • Lake Development Authority’s insentivity to people’s demand to conserve lakes as public commons and functional ecosystems has met with stiff resistance
    • ESG has initiated a comprehensive legal challenge to lake privatisation
    • Court’s have stayed the privatisation policy and arguments are in final stages on the question of legality of such commercialisation
    • ESG will continue to advocate lakes as commons and critical zones to secure water for all and as habitats for migratory birds
  • 7. Tackling a polluting paper mill and getting regulatory agencies to take action
    • West Coast Paper Mills in Dandeli, Karnataka is one of the worst polluting mills in the country
    • River Kali is highly polluted as a result, and this pollution has seeped into drinking water wells
    • Women and children as worst affected as they are continually in contact with the polluted waters
    • Failure of regulation is a key reason why the mill functioned without proper ETP for decades
    • Adverse Impacts involve a variety of skin infections, neo natal deaths, respiratory disorders and gastro-intestinal problem.
    • Cattle deaths are frequent
  • 8. Tackling a polluting paper mill and getting regulatory agencies to take action
    • Systemic administrative failures to address such major impacts began to be corrected only after protests in Bangalore
    • ESG also organised protests at the company’s Annual General Body meeting
    • The Chief Minister directed an investigation and only then was a proper ETP established.
    • But the company expanded illegally with finance from International Finance Corporation – which is now the focus of our attention.
  • 9. Engaging the Union Government to tackle dilution of environmental laws and regulations
      • In November 2005, 200 groups from across India came together in Delhi for a two day campaign to demand a stop to the dilution of India’s environmental laws
      • A Public Hearing entitled MOEF-SUNO (MOEF-LISTEN) was organised, but no one from the Government came to listen.
      • So the next day People Stormed into the Ministry despite all the security and declared the Ministry of Environment and Forests as good as DEAD in an event called MOEF-CHALO (Let's go to MOEF)
      • The protest focussed on stopping a disastrous dilution of India’s EIA law
  • 10. Engaging the Union Government to tackle dilution of environmental laws and regulations
    • Despite all efforts, the Ministry formalised the EIA Notification 2006
    • ESG published a comprehensive critique of this Notification in a publication entitled “Green Tapism”
    • As predicted the new system of environmental clearance has failed and caused widespred discontent amongst affected communities and investors too
    • The Ministry is now in the process of revamping the Environmental Regulation system and ESG is actively working to ensure we get it right this time