After months of planning and field study, our 100% UP Campaign finally kicked off in Lucknow on 13 November 2016. The venue was attuned to the theme, along the Gomti riverside next to the most picturesque part of the Lucknow city.
Why I say the venue was attuned to the theme is because it was located at a spot where the Gomti River was overpowered by the man-made buildings and bridges. It is beautiful for sure, but the chunk of plastics and milk packets floating on the river are abysmally tooting for mercy that remain muffled amidst the loud noise of development and growth.
The 100% UP Campaign aims to give voices to these muffled and jaded issues that have been ignored at the stake of development and growth. The discussion on climate change has remained confined among environmentalists, social scientists, and policy makers. Ironically the citizens at large have never been involved as a primary stakeholder when decisions on the environment is formulated. To bridge this gap between the policy makers and the people, the 100% UP Campaign enters as a platform where a positive dialogue can commence between different stakeholders.
Owing to this principle, the campaign was launched in the presence of over 300 citizens of Lucknow. The participants who graced the occasion belonged from different sections of the society. School children, social activists, environmentalists, professors, local artisans, women and young girls, and media personnels. The open house discussion at the launch engaged with members from each community to share their opinion. The diversity of the people present added to the variance of opinions and highlighted how different sects of the society face this issue in different ways. Noor Jahan, a bunker artist from Papnamau in Lucknow shed light on the adversities they face due to the rising pollution. Noor points out that due the changing climatic situation, it has become terribly hot for them to survive without fans or electricity the supply of which is again a rarity in their area. Earlier they could survive without fans because the climate was cooler and their family used to sleep outside in fresh air. Such a thing is not possible now because the air is polluted, that is feels better indoors than outside. “Ghar mean bijli nahi, our bahar hawa nahi. Sheher walo ki tarah humare paas zyada chaara nahi hai aur paisa bhi nahi.” (There is no electricity in the house, and the air outside is not healthy to breathe. Unlike the city dwellers we don’t have many options to tackle with this neither do we have enough money). Vivek, a student from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Gomti Nagar elaborated on how textbooks teach them to protect the environment and that people should follow certain steps to keep their city clean. However, Vivek is disturbed to see that such teachings are rarely practiced by people for real and remain restricted in books. Several other participants shared their personal stories and also the impact the changing climatic conditions has affected their lives.
The 100% UP Campaign is a people’s campaign that highlights the woes of the people and seeks a solution for them that has been initiated from them. This call to action campaign that looks at the holistic perspective of creating a sustainable environment in terms of securing energy requirements through cleaner methods, working towards cleansing the air and water, and ensuring proper waste disposal facilities. Uttar Pradesh can be the flag-bearer of such a holistic campaign by moving towards 100% clean energy, clean air, clean water and zero waste solutions. Once we gain enough support from people, we shall demand the political parties to include them in their manifesto for the upcoming state assembly elections in 2017. To gain support from 1 million people, CEED along with other civil society groups shall conduct a Paaryavaran Chunav Jan Samvad Yatra. The Yatra shall engage with different communities all across UP and conduct workshops, open house discussions, street plays, parliamentary debates, etc. The campaign will also encourage participation and support from the civil society groups in UP for which multiple Civil Society Consultations will be organised.
So far we have covered Lucknow, and Barabanki. Our next halt is in Jhansi where we are organising a Civil Society Consultation. In the coming days, we are going to be in Azamgarh, Mau, Basti, Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Agra, Bareily and Ghaziabad. If you are around these cities, extend your support to the 100% UP Campaign and help us #CleanUP. If you are not a UP resident but want to do your bit, join the campaign here.
Surabhi Shikha is Head of Programmes at CEED.