Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

A Million Mutinies: Raising India's Environmental Awareness

Save Oil, Save Future, Chandigarh, India (Nice Logo/Flickr)

Save Oil, Save Future, Chandigarh, India (Nice Logo/Flickr)

Theone thing again, and this is what I constantly focus again and again onbecause that's the one thing that gives us a tremendous sense of hopein terms of India, is that the check and balance that is coming in acountry like India is really coming from community pressure, again. Wehave a Green Rating Project where we rate Indian industry in terms ofits environmental impact. And we found that almost 60% of theindustries that we rated had legal cases against them. Some might haveeven been closed down for years because of community pressure. I mean,if you scan papers of the region, you must have heard that we areshopping in Delhi 3,000 factories as of this week, which are in thesmall-scale sector because these are polluting factories.

So therefore what we're seeing is enormous impact because of public pressure and because of a judiciary which now takes that public pressure and then acts on it. And that's really been able to create, to some extent, the check and the balance. But as I said, the main problem that we're finding is that the protest is still not translating into policy, and this has been the key weakness of the system, which is why we are constantly focusing on the fact that the system of governance really has to change. We need to greater de-centralization, openness and participation.

We also need technological changes in a big way. We, in India, have been constantly raising -- we have a big campaign on the right to clean air, for instance, in Delhi. And our big issue in Delhi is not just the fact that we need cleaner vehicles and we need cleaner fuel -- which is something that we're working towards and managing to get to some extent-- but we're really talking about the fact that -- who is going to be investing in the technology of the poor? If you look at our part of the world, you're going to see that the largest number of people who --vehicles on our roads are really scooters. Because the first thing that people do when they motorize is not go from a bicycle to a car but they go to scooters. And scooters, as you know, there's very little research happening on it across the world. One of the big issues for us is when is the full-scale scooter going to come in? But who's going to invest money in a full-scale scooter? Is Thailand? Is India? Is China -- which really use, in a large way, scooters which are two-stroke engines --vehicles

Comment from the Audience

I just got back from India last week and they call them automatic rickshaws. Isn't that what you mean? The three-wheelers?

Sunita Narain

The three-wheelers. Yes.

Comment from the Audience

Everything is diesel.

Sunita Narain

No, now they're also moving to CNG [Compressed Natural Gas] because of alot of pressure that we've put on. But it has a lot to do with diesel. In fact, it has been one of our biggest problems -- our biggest campaign has been really to get rid of diesel in cities. And we've been fairly successful in the sense that the court has now ordered that 10,000 buses will move to CNG by April next year. And of course, they're --