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Climate Change se Aazadi: The Delhi Chapter of the Global Climate Strike

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On 20th September, as a part of the Global Climate Strike, organised by Fridays for Future,  hundreds came to Lodi Garden and marched towards the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change as a movement against Climate Change. 

The Global Climate Strike is an international movement against Climate Change where students in over 150 countries have mobilized themselves to raise voice against Climate Change. On 20th September, as a part of this movement, hundreds of people gathered outside Lodi Garden to march towards the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC).

The crowd gathered at the meeting point at 3 p.m. where Environment enthusiasts could be seen talking about Climate Change in front of the crowd. “We want to question the entire world. What is the world doing?”, said a passionate student on the makeshift podium.

The crowd then did an impromptu rendition of Sing for the Climate, the Climate Change Anthem, set to the tune of Bella Ciao, the famous anti-fascist anthem. It was followed by a die-in, a form of protest where the protestors lie on the ground to simulate being dead, to emphasize the harm caused by climate change.

At 3:30 pm, the march towards the Ministry began. The protestors marched down the road holding catchy posters, shouting “There is no earth B!”. While the movement was headlined by students, it was joined by people from all walks of life.

“Have you ever seen such a large group of people walking for the climate before? The climate change movement has begun, and young people are coming forward because they know it is their future. We need to save the planet, and rightly said by the activist, it’s not you or me who’s saying it, it is the scientists who are saying it.” Said Sanam, a protestor at the march.

However, the march wasn’t without roadblocks. After covering a distance of 100 metres, the police put up a barrier made of ropes and tried to stop the movement. Despite having proper permissions, the police officers asked the crowd to walk in that 100-metre space saying it is just a walk anyway. But, the enthusiasm of the crowd did not wither. On being told “humein aage nahi jaane diya ja raha hai (they aren’t letting us go further)”, the crowd replied with shouts of “jaayenge (we will go)”. The police eventually removed the barriers and the march continued to the Ministry with added vivacity.

“We are not here only based on emotions. We need data to be published by the government of India. Millions of people die in India due to pollution every year, it’s just that the government does to disclose. We are not going to sit silent. Due to this climate change, droughts and floods will increase, especially in the Indian subcontinent. Millions of people will become refugees; unemployment will increase, social unrest will increase. Enough talks have happened, enough articles have been submitted. It is time to act now… The question is what the government is doing. That is why we are standing here in front of the Ministry of environment, forestry and climate change.” Said Mr. Chitranjan Dubey, an activist present at the march, while addressing the crowd.

On reaching the Ministry, the crowd settled in front of the roadblocks set up by the police. While a few activists, went inside to meet the minister, different groups could be seen chanting slogans outside. In one corner students were sharing poetry and expressing their thoughts, while in the other they were playing music and dancing. “At the end of the day, Climate Change has still not become a priority for a lot of nations. We are hoping slowly and gradually, well, not gradually, faster, we can influence the Government”, said Vaishnavi, a student present at the march.

“This is happening around the world, and Delhi is just one bit of it. I hope we are sending our message loud and clear- we want change and change is coming.” said Nimrat, another student at the march.

However, when the activists went inside, it turned out neither Mr. Prakash Javedkar, the Minister of MOEFCC, nor Mr. Babul Supriyo, the Minister of State of MOEFCC, were present. They, then, met Ms. Richa Sharma, Joint Secretary, MOEFCC. “Agar seedhi bhaasha mein bolun to humein ek tarah se fool banadiya gaya (to be frank, they made a fool of us). Like the US, which is a country which got developed exploiting the natural resources, we should also follow the same path- This is what the Ministry is saying.” said an activist who went inside.

Jeevesh Gupta, a member from Extinction Rebellion India, in conversation with DU Beat, said, “the two movements have come together today – Extinction Rebellion India and Fridays for Future – because the goal is common. We just went inside the ministry, but both the ministers were not here. We met the Joint Secretary. They did not commit anything. They took the letter from us addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji and said they would speak to the minister- We don’t think anything will happen. But we would keep fighting for this and we would come back again, very soon.”

However, the energy of the crowd did not ebb. The activists were met with cheers despite the ministry’s response. “What I really want to say is that this energy is really amazing and what we are doing right now is something that we have never done before. What we need to do now is come in more numbers and do the strikes more often. Iske baad hum fir aayenge, har mahine aayenge, har week aayenge! (We will keep coming, every month, every week)” said the activists.

Feature Image Credits: Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat

Satviki Sanjay

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