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Maneka Gandhi on India and global warming

Maneka Gandhi: 14 May, 2007


We are already into the crisis. It will accelerate in the next five years. There will come a time in the next 10 years when it will be irrelevant which party comes to power. The word democracy will be irrelevant when people rush to grab whatever available resources are left.

If the projections of the scientists are correct - they have been absolutely correct so far, in their milestones - this may be the last few years that India exists as a State with any form of governance. This is not going to go away. We are already here.

In my own constituency, in April, which is a hot month, we had hailstorms of the size of a tennis ball, which destroyed the entire wheat crop in the Tarai. We had snow in places where snow had never been. We had snow late, we had flowering late and we lost large number of crops due to flooding. This is going to increase year by year.

If you look at the satellite pictures of India, you will see a sharp erosion of our coasts. Already, several islands in the Sundarbans have disappeared and the people living on them have had to move inland. In one particular island, 600 families had to move inward when the entire island, like Dwarka, had disappeared under the ocean.

As land along the coasts disappears through a combination of rising waves, tsunamis and cyclones, India's coastal people and Bangladeshis will start moving inwards and this means, crores of refugees coming into India.

Then, as the heat starts increasing, this means the breakdown of power for large masses of people and millions of deaths. It also means famine on a scale that cannot be comprehended because there will be no nation and no State that we could import food from.

And all this will happen in the next 10 years. The indicators are all there. In fact, one of the most important indicators has gone unnoticed: the dying out of pollination agents, such as bees and butterflies, on which our entire planet depends.

I am going to suggest a few things, which, if taken up now, can perhaps mitigate the disaster.

Only 2 per cent of all power production in the world is being done through renewable energies. India has 'zero' contribution in it. We must also lay emphasis on the production of vegetable-based fuel for vehicles. Diesel and petrol must be consciously phased out with short-term goals.

Twenty per cent forest cover is mythology. We are taking 35 per cent of the North-East and averaging it out with 1 per cent of Punjab, 2 per cent of Haryana, 1 per cent of Maharashtra, 1 per cent of Delhi and then call it an average of 20 per cent.

Let us suppose North-East seceded from us, then we are left with 1 per cent average in the rest of India. Therefore, let us not look at averages any more and go for 20 per cent in each State immediately.

You will have to rethink your policy on car production. Low emission vehicles have to be ordered and the standards raised very high.

Energy efficient appliances have to be the order of the day. Simple things like standby modes have to be removed from all appliances like TVs and videos. The government should immediately order shifting of all lighting to CFLS.

Most farmers in India burn their fields after crops like sugarcane and wheat are harvested. As I speak, all the fields in my constituency are on fire and mine is not the only one. Conservatively, 20 lakh (2 million) farmers burn 50 lakh (5 million) acres a day. This increases the heat sharply and the SPM level.

Excerpts from animal rights activist and MP Maneka Gandhi's speech in the Lok Sabha on global warming, on May 8, 2007


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