FridaysForFuture protesters took to the streets across the country on September 25 in solidarity with farmers and to oppose the draft EIA bill. In a report released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 8th October, 2018 it was emphasised that only 12 years remained to prevent catastrophic and irreversible damages to the environment by limiting temperature change within a range of 1.5°C.
Obviously such a situation demands emergency response from all nations that have huge carbon imprints, particularly India, which currently ranks third in terms of emission of greenhouse gases. The RSS-BJP led central government has chosen this critical situation as the ideal time for pushing the revised Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020. The associated public consultation process has been mired in controversy and the final draft is yet to be passed. It seems that 23rd March was intentionally chosen as the date of issuance as the national lockdown started two days later which effectively prevented environmental activists and concerned individuals to come down on the streets to protest the diluted clauses of EIA 2020.
The propagated aim of EIA is to study and predict the effect of a proposed project on the environment and make subsequent modifications such that any adverse effect on environment can be mitigated. Although EIA includes public participation it virtually acts as a legalization mechanism as almost zero projects get rejected under this policy. Despite all these existing problems the revised EIA 2020 is set to make imperialist loot smoother, rendering the locals voiceless. Coupling it with the three anti-farmer legislations passed by brute force in the parliament, the economic, social, and ecological onslaught on the marginalized people of the nation is complete. By complete corporatization of the agri-sector the international giants would have a free hand at imposing their genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides etc. upon the Indian farmers.
Be it zoonotic viruses like SARS, MERS, COVID-19, cyclones like Amphan, Bulbul etc., forest fires, desertification, ground-water depletion, air pollution or the sixth mass extinction- each and every catastrophe is caused by the actions of a handful of corporate enterprises and their pet state machinery.
With the rising global temperature and melting of permafrost, the future is pregnant with the possibility of multiple waves of pandemic caused by hitherto dormant microbes that might revive. In such a situation individual actions like banning straws, planting saplings, using public transport etc. can never prevent the runaway global heating processes that might start within a few years if emergency global actions are not taken. All these facts taken together have laid bare the fact that a system premised upon exponential growth and profit for a few has brought human civilization to the brink of collapse.
FridaysForFuture is a global youth movement started by a Swedish teenager named Greta Thunberg who started skipping school every friday to protest the absolute lack of measures taken by the Swedish government with respect to climate emergency.
The FridaysforFuture movement spread across the globe and has been getting more and more intense as real time effects of climate change like cyclones, forest fires, submergence of small islands become more frequent.
The pandemic did cause a temporary snag but the global protest for climate justice was observed all across the globe on Friday, 25th of September. People at more than 300 places within India participated in this global protest by coming out onto the streets despite this situation. Students and youth also participated in the protest digitally. It is to be noted here that FridaysForFuture India was served a UAPA notice by the Delhi police in July this year merely for conducting a mass email campaign to the MoEFCC protesting against the draft EIA 2020. The notice was later retracted after public outrage.
In West Bengal alone there were protest gatherings at eight places and numerous students participated in the digital protest. These were organized by FridaysForFuture by collaborating with many grassroots level groups and organizations. Park circus, Dumdum, Kharagpur etc. were some of the places where the protests took place in West Bengal. The participation of children was the most encouraging aspect of these protests. It is this generation which would be rendered the most vulnerable as the climate catastrophes get more frequent. There was extensive wall postering, leafleting, and sloganeering conducted by the protesters.
On that very day, thousands of farmers all across India came out on the streets demanding scrapping of the three new farm legislations. Besides EIA 2020, solidarity with the farmers’ struggle took centre stage in all these protests.
FridaysForFuture WB also condemns the current efforts of creating a utopian environment-friendly fourth industrial revolution that aims to replace nature with technology. FridaysForFuture WB strongly condemns Indian projects like the Thurga dam project, Dibang valley project, Dehing-Patkai mining project, Hasdeo-Arand mining project, extensive deforestation within caged Kashmir valley etc. which are nothing but different facets of corporate plunder.
The demands put forth by FFF WB are the following:
- Scrap EIA 2020
- Protect farmers and farming sector from corporatization. Resist GM seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and monocultures to protect indigenous biodiversity and health.
- Protect indigenous rights over Jal-Jangal-Zameen to prevent climate crisis and future pandemics
- Carbon emission should be reduced to zero within 2030
- Renewable, decentralised, eco-friendly energy sources should be used instead of fossil fuels and nuclear fuels.
- Production as per need not for profit
- Stop war-mongering and related emissions. Cut emissions in the military sector.
- Reduce war budget. Increase public health and education budgets.
- Plastic production and use be stopped immediately.
- Ecology destroying Unnayan/Vikas must be stopped.
- To prevent groundwater depletion end producing high yielding varieties of crops, close Bisleri, Nestle, Pepsi-Cola etc. plants.
- Stop obstructing riverine motion using dams and barrages.
- End urbanisation. Protect wetlands, farmlands etc.
- Wild and marine flora and fauna need to be rehabilitated.
- Sunderbans need to be protected for preventing cyclones.
- There can be no climate justice without social and political justice. #NoNRC #NoNPR #NoCAA