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India’s Environment movement at crossroads: Sunita Narain
Trivandrum 11/05/2012: In the face of a million pollution mutinies taken up by communities all across India, the environment movements and organizations which predate them are finding themselves at crossroads, said Sunita Narain, the renowned environmentalist, social activist and director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, while inaugurating the 49th State Conference of Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath in Govt.GHSS, Manacaud today. She emphasized the need for an alternative model of growth which, instead of trying to solve the problem and hence always staying behind it – ‘the garbage manager’s environment’ in her own words – try to avoid the problem or at the very least reduces the magnitude of it. Ironically, it is now, when we are more concerned about the environment that our rivers and cities are more polluted than ever. In place of trying to manage the problem of air pollution by cleaning up the atmosphere and realizing that they are fighting a losing battle there, our authorities should reinvent mobility so as to detach the mode of travel from status in the society and lessen the amount of private means of transport. She added that road network in our cities are now designed solely to facilitate private cars ignoring pedestrians and bicycle riders.
Ms.Narain appeared deeply concerned about the way in which urban planning is carried out in our cities, and pointed out that bringing more water into the cities which don’t even have a semblance of sewage network is going to worsen the problem ultimately, even with bigger and better sewage plants. A major part of her speech was devoted to the management of waste disposal, especially human excreta, and she said that the biggest challenge before India’s scientists is to reinvent flush toilets with better affordability, convenience, hygiene and ability to turn human refuse to useful resources. She also highlighted the need to do away with cosmetic solutions that might solve the problem locally, but would not touch upon the root cause.
While concluding, she touched upon the past and present of environment movements in India and lauded the achievements of KSSP which paved way for creating a general awareness on environment issues. Ms. Narain’s latest book, ‘Excreta matters – Citizens’ 7th report on the state of environment in India’ was released in the function by Prof.M K Prasad, noted environmentalist who handed it over to Mr.Binoy Viswam , former Minister for environment and forest, Govt of Kerala. Mr.Gopala Subrahmanian, Vice President, AIPSN and member, legislative council, Andhra Pradesh graced the function along with various other dignitaries like Mr.S Vijayakumar, counselor, corporation of Trivandrum, Mr.V S Shajahan president, PTA, Govt GVHSS, Manacaud and M Sukumaran, headmaster, GVHSS Manacaud. President of KSSP Mr.K T Radhakrishnan chaired the function and Worshipful Mayor .K. Chandrika welcomed the guests. The meeting started off with the welcome song by Mr.V K Sasidharan. Mr. Gopakumar, general convener, reception committee proposed the vote of thanks.
In the delegate session, K T Radhakrishnan presided over and Mr.T P Sreesankar, General Secretary presented the annual report. P V VInod, treasurer presented the details of accounts. A music concert by Mr.V K Sasidharan and team will be presented in the evening. The conference will conclude on 13th May.