India is going to elect a new government for the next five years. The coming decade will decide the future of our beautiful planet, Earth. Our government needs to commit to protecting the Earth as well as lives, livelihoods and health of all of us Indians, and have a plan to create a sustainable future for our children.
As concerned citizens of the country, we sign this charter of demands for all political parties/coalitions and most importantly, the new government.
I. Shift from fossil fuels to Clean and Sustainable Energy
Prepare a roadmap for India to phase out coal by 2050 at the latest, replacing it with renewable energy that is people-centric and does not rely on false solutions like nuclear or large dams.
Take immediate steps to reduce India’s consumption of all fossil fuels which pose a health risk, a climate risk and a financial risk to the Indian economy, by focussing on clean public transport options and electric vehicles.
II. Clean Air as a Basic Right
Guarantee clean air to all residents of India as a basic right – by promising that if elected, their government will ensure that polluting industries and sectors take urgent, time bound action to meet air quality standards, and those failing to do so would face the full penalties of the law.
III. Clean water as a basic right
Ensure that all major urban areas have state of the art sewage treatment and disposal facilities to avoid the discharge of sewage and industrial effluent into India’s rivers, lakes and seas. Clean water must be prioritised over industries – if an industry cannot ensure it discharges only safe effluent, it must be shut down.
IV. Agriculture as the source of safe and nutritious food and remunerative, dependable livelihoods
Guarantee safe and nutritious food to all Indians as a basic right – by allocating 50% of the agriculture budget to enable farmers to shift towards organic/ecological farming.
Ensure rejuvenated soils and enhanced agricultural climate resilience with a well-researched Soil Health Roadmap. Ensure that seed sovereignty and biodiversity is protected through an indefinite moratorium on all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) in India.
V. Free flowing, ecologically vibrant rivers
Ensure that no more large dams are permitted on other Indian rivers, and that no industry be allowed to discharge untreated or partially treated wastewater into the rivers. The river linking project must be put on hold pending a thorough scientific review of the ecological and social impacts and financial viability of the project as a whole.
Guarantee to restore the Ganga by inter alia implementing CPCB order prohibiting mining and stone crushers, cancel and demolish under construction dams on the Ganga and its tributaries, implement existing orders and laws to reduce pollution of the river.
VI. Recognise the traditional rights of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers
Launch national Mission for Forest rights Act implementation, which would include a review of all rejected claims, and ensure that local authorities are enforcing the letter and spirit of the FRA when adjudicating claims.
Ensure at least 33% forest cover by recognising, protecting and empowering the authority of Gram Sabhas with full and unrestricted participation of women for any decision-making related to conservation and enhancement of forests, diversion of forestland for any economic activity and amending/making forest-related policies.
VII. Sustainable Cities
Articulate a vision for urban India that guarantees affordable housing, clean and sufficient water, green spaces and dignified, ecologically sustainable waste management, including time bound measures to reach these goals
VIII. A plastics free future
Take immediate steps to phase out all single use plastics in non-essential areas such as packaging, water and soft drink bottles, carry bags, food industry etc.
IX. Restore the health of India’s seas
Take immediate steps to protect India’s seas from over-fishing by large factory ships, with the active involvement of the traditional fishing community.
Protect India’s coastline from infrastructure projects such as coastal roads, new ports and urban development that does not respect the need for a setback zone from the high tide line, as all of these will only worsen the damage from the significant sea levelrise already underway as a result of climate change.