A few days ago, various celebrities, journalists and citizens tweeted, posted Instagram stories and shared links on social networking sites that explained the Amazon fire. Then came the arguments that the media did not cover the event as much as they did to the burning of Notre Dame in Paris, which stirred up a frenzy – people pointed fingers everywhere. But as it always is, the news got stale quickly.
There have been multiple events in the last two or so decades that should scare us, but somehow, all of us seem guilty of forgetting our duty to give back to the land.
Industrial development is one of the most common reasons behind mass deforestation and indigenous people have had their lands ravaged by modern colonizers. Not only in the Amazon but hundreds of places, including our nation, has been wrecked by mining, fracking, forest fires, dumping of waste into rivers and seas. Environmental activists and NGOs protest to stop building dams, malls, roads, metro highways, etc. but most of the times, the authority governing us quells their voices.
Not every factory or industry adheres to the laws set by the government, therefore, things like waste management do not become a priority and we are left with unsanitary garbage dumps and landfills near areas with high population, risking the health of the locals.
Do we as a society, truly believe that we are a collective unit? Do we discuss ways we could help the environment with our neighbours? Or are we busy buying metal straws that come wrapped in plastic?
47.80% of our state might be covered in forests, but you must remember your neighbourhood being greener years ago. Now, most of the times, people who have left the state to pursue their education abroad or to find jobs outside Sikkim, don’t recognize the lanes and by-lanes because of the structural changes happening in their towns or villages.
Our folktales consist of harvesters who prayed to the forest and mountain gods, demons who protected certain sacred places, lakes surrounded by magic; our environment, our land and forests are of vital importance to us. We are because of them. Our natural geographical features are looked upon in wonder by friends from other states and we love to hear these praises. Our land is beautiful, no doubt, but it is finite.
Teesta and Rangeet isn’t just a romantic short story. These are real rivers and construction of dams have led to real people, indigenous people protesting endangerment of life and environment.
The recent water-sharing treaty that the governments of India and Bangladesh want to sign has stirred up tension in West Bengal, and the reason is simple – there isn’t enough water. Why? Because there are too many hydro projects.
The shining crown that Sikkim has on its head, ‘100% organic state’ is at times preventing us from opening our eyes to the bigger picture, that reality is as murky as the waters of the Teesta. We have to care about the Amazon, but we have to also care about the landslides that occur in Sikkim. It is, after all, our home!
Finding sustainable ways to dispose of wet and dry waste, urging governments to rethink their strategies of development and bring into consideration the human lives it affects and incorporating eco-friendly practices in our homes would help. Reading articles related to the meat processing industry, waste management systems and other bigger things – yes, that too would broaden our minds to how to combat pollution and global warming. But for now, the most impactful thing we could do is to really begin.