You may have heard of Greta Thunberg, the young girl from Sweden who has been talking about climate change on a global stage. Greta talks about the need for governments and world leaders to take action, and she’s not alone. We have a climate champion right here in India as well – Ridhima Pandey, a young girl from Haridwar in Uttarakhand, who is one of 16 children who have filed a complaint against the lack of action on climate change at the UN Climate Action Summit.
Ridhima became a national phenomenon when she filed a petition in the National Tribunal against the government in 2017 for failing to take action on climate change. At the age of 9, she asked for a “carbon budget” to limit carbon emissions and create a national climate recovery plan. The NGT, however, later dismissed her plea, claiming it was already under the environmental impact assessment.
The Uttarakhand floods of 2013 devastated and encouraged Ridhima to think about her future and the future of the planet. Ridhima maintains that India is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. She is also vocal about the plight of the Ganga and asserts that nothing is really being done to clean the river. For her, the issues of India and their solutions remain on paper rather than on the ground.
A large amount of waste like polythene bags, plastic, industrial and garbage disposals are dumped into the river untreated, making the Ganges one of the most polluted rivers around the world. She talks about how the religious city of Haridwar is no different when it comes to pollution, and about how festivities like the Kanwar Yatra pollute the river.
This class topper from Haridwar wants a complete ban on plastic and seeks to protect the future of the Earth, and the future of her own kind. Ridhima and 15 other child petitioners including Thunberg have alleged that violation of climate protection is a violation of child rights. It is their future and it is time to find a remedy for the gravest problem surrounding us today. It is time to act; she knows it, and we should know it too.