'Saara Bharat MAHAN', thats what comes to my mind when I think of the National Day of Action (NDA). This solidarity includes not only Indian metro cities but far flung places like Budgam, Leh and Imphal. Then, there are foreign countries like Czech Republic, Austin, Philippines, Tunisia, Yemen and Slovakia. I won't be wrong if I say 'The world is Mahan'.
This solidarity event is our way of drawing our new Prime Minister's attention towards the message: we want India's forests to be saved. We don't want development at the cost of destruction.
I remember when we started planning this activity we are skeptical about getting even 50 cities on our list. But the amount of support which poured in was surprising and inspiring. On behalf of the whole Greenpeace India team I want to thank everyone who is participating in this event.
On May 18, 2014, 117 Indian cities and 16 international cities will rise for the forests of Mahan. More than 1,500 volunteers are taking part in this activity. When we asked people about why are they taking part in this activity, we got the following interesting answers:
"I feel blessed that I can actually help my own country even after living my entire life outside. I was shocked to find out 5 lakh trees, 639 species of animals and thousands of livelihood are at stake. Forests are where everything lies. There are so many species living inside forests and they are the reason why our world is actually referred to as 'diverse'. We, the younger generation should come together and join hands to save this," says Vagisha Mishra, Bangkok, Thailand.
Kandarp Gupta from Shimla says, "United we stand divided we fall. By bringing people with the same thought process together we can give a boost to our cause, not just intellectually but also in terms of mass movement. We can show the people, who are unaware of such facts, what is actually happening in the world."
When we asked people if they are excited about being a part of this activity, we got a 100% yes!
Julie from Manali says, "Yes, very much. It is a very good opportunity for us also to do something for a place which is outside Manali, since our initiative 'Om Shanti Om' works on the local issues only."
Almost every volunteer wants to do the activity in the busiest place of the city where they get maximum attention."The NDA event for Mahan will take place in a community park of a posh area of Saket, in Meerut. People will join in there itself at the appropriate time for this special cause. Focus will be to make more and more people aware about the campaign and to get their support," says Divya Sharma from Meerut.
Volunteers in Mumbai are organizing a skit symbolizing the struggle of villagers in Mahan forests against the proposed coal mining project.
Organisers also gave messages for the people in Mahan. Kandarp Gupta from Shimla says, "To stand up to such a big corporation is no easy task and takes a lot of courage.You, the people of Mahan, have proved your mettle. We are with you, the country is with you, never think you are alone... we will win, not quickly, but surely."
As part of the organizing team, I am totally overwhelmed with the kind of enthusiasm the volunteers have. Each one of them wants India's forests to be saved. They don't think that development should come at the cost of livelihoods of so many people and destruction of our rich biodiversity. Each one of them wants sustainable development to be the prime concern of the new government's agenda. It's high time the government gave another thought about the coal project in Mahan and reconsidered the permission given to destroy the forest.
To join the National Day of Action in your city, click here - http://www.junglistan.org/junglistan_national_day_of_action
Prachi Mishra is an intern at Greenpeace India.