29 May 2014

Solar Therman Station on Hospital in New Delhi © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra


It was the last time I saw the sun rise in Budher. When I woke up that day, I just could not control my tears. Next day I was going to be hundreds of miles away in Sonar Bangla from where I would see the sun rise from a train window racing towards my home.

As my mom put it over the phone that this place (Mahan) seems farther away from even London, where she could at least speak to me everyday. But this mama's boy learnt a lot more here, not from some university professor, but from villagers and the indegenous communities in Mahan.

I grew up near thermal power stations, two power plants near Ropar and the Katwa thermal power station just on the other side of the river Hoogly. No wonder I took my first job in a renewable energy venture. But working on ground zero in Mahan's forest was a very strong experience for me.

Since then I think ten times before I switch on anything. To me, each unit I use means one Mahua tree. Even though in our family we use energy very efficiently I will try even harder to reduce our usage. I will also try to finish my goal of converting total energy usage to solar by the end of next year.

Apart from that, my Climate Buddies and I from Kolkata have already decided to restart the work of creating awareness about climate change in schools and colleges. I will share my experiences with them and we will try to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy among the students. I will meet the Secretary of our ex-school and the Principal of my ex-college to help them plan their switch to solar.

I didn't want to leave Mahan. But I felt that to actually help them here and people like them everywhere I must return home. For there lay all the solutions to their problems. For if we choose to switch off, their lives will be on.

Going back to the sun, when I saw the sun rise on my last day in Budher, I felt it's the last time I am seeing it behind the Mahua tree. The government here has decided and will start mining operations soon as the forest has been granted clearance to be destroyed.

It's the world's largest democracy, and even with its many flaws, is protecting these people. But if that decision is taken, yeh nadiyan, yeh pahar aur jungle, nothing will be theirs. Failure is not an option for me or any of us. If we the people could fight and win our rights from Britishers it should be a piece of cake to put our government in line.

Long live Mahan – Zindabad!

Abhishek Acharyya is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.