In an exclusive interview with Republic TV, environment activist from Hardiwar, Ridhima Pandey, spoke about the importance of climate change in today's time. She also mentioned that the government must take up more initiatives to reduce pollution and carbon emission. The 11-year-old Indian girl was among 16 child petitioners who filed a complaint to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis.
Speaking about the current situation, Ridhima said, "The world leaders are violating our rights. They are producing a large amount of carbon emission resulting in the growth of pollution and greenhouse gases and that is why our rights are violated. I support Greta and I want to say this to every global leader that please reduce the emission of carbon. If they don't reduce the emission of carbons or stop global warming, it is going to harm our future."
Asking for the help of the United Nations, she said, "Basically my complaint speaks about the five countries that are responsible because they produce large amounts of carbon emission violating our rights. So the petition we have filed in the UN says that those countries are violating our rights and the UN should help us."
Ridhima also spoke about the 2013 floods that had occurred in Haridwar, comparing the situation then and now she said, "After the floods, I had filed a complaint against the state government on National Green Tribunal and I don't think I have got justice for it. I did not see any change or efforts done towards the environment in my city. I can still see the pollution, plastic bags lying around and still see garbage in Ganga as well and according to me in my city, I cannot see any change that has taken place. There are programs taken up by the government but it is not up to that level."
Lastly talking about the government's new and upcoming initiative of the ban on single-use plastic, she said, "If we start and follow the ban then we can bring a change and stop the use of plastic by everyone. We can still reduce pollution. However, only banning plastic won't help and we need to reduce the emission of carbon as well. Other steps should also be taken apart from banning single-use plastic."
Ridhima, studying in Class 8, hit the headlines in 2017 when she filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the government for failing to take action on climate change, highlighting the growing concern over pollution and environmental degradation in the country. She contended that India is one of the most vulnerable countries and was already experiencing adverse impacts of climate change. To her dismay, the NGT said that climate change was already covered under the environmental impact assessment and disposed of her plea. The tribunal had said that the authorities acting under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, have to perform their obligation of impact assessment as per statutory scheme which has not been challenged in her plea. The matter is now before the Supreme Court.