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Hello Bharti, nice to meet you. Please tell us a bit more about you and your life. And what are your interests?
My name is Bharti Pandey I am 20 years old and now I am basically a student, journalist and a socio-political activist. My interests are traveling, writing and reading books. Being active in the small and big movements going on in Uttarakhand in the last 4 years, got an opportunity to visit Uttarakhand and many parts of the country, which helped a lot in developing an understanding of the geography of the mountain, common life and the challenges of the people. I myself am from a village in Almora district, due to which it is natural to have a special attachment to nature and animals. I am currently in the position of Treasurer of the Asia Pacific Young Greens Network, my tenure in this position is till November 2022. Working for gender sensitivity at the grassroots level since last 4/5 years so that a better and sensitive society can be made.
Why is this environmental issue important to you?
When the question of environment comes in front of me, then it is not only trees and plants but common people and their rights, culture, speciality, originality, variation etc. of that area. But all these things have been destroyed when it comes to development in Uttarakhand, whether it is Tehri Dam, whether it is any other power project or any road construction work, all this was so unplanned and is in the share of the general public. Displacement, disasters and crises of rights being taken away are always there. People have lost their attachment due to snatching the rights of water, forest and land from the people and now the mountain forests are becoming victims of fierce forest fire. If we look at the examples of a few years ago, to save the forests and wild animals from fire, many people of the mountain have even put their lives on the line. But due to the end of the rights, now people have to give up animal husbandry on the one hand because the only source of fodder is the forest and on the other hand the wild animals are coming and harming the houses and crops, fed up with the forest fires and the encroachment of the capitalists on the forests. Due to the threat of destruction of life and agriculture, people have to give up their agriculture and have to migrate from the village in search of livelihood, due to which hundreds of villages have become ghost villages.
What are the most important issues for children related to the environment and climate change in your community/country/region?
The issue of climate change is as global as it is regional. India is a developing country where each state has its own conditions and characteristics. The consequences of climate change can be clearly seen in India and many other countries like this. The situation in my state Uttarakhand has become very complicated. Many children have lost their homes, families due to illiteracy, starvation due to calamities, they are pushed towards begging or child labor, many small girls are sold in the name of marriage who are forced into prostitution. Due to migration and displacement, children are losing their right to home, culture and clean environment. Due to the loss of life of pregnant women, their children are forced to live the life of orphans and are becoming victims of undernutrition. Today in Uttarakhand, small children walk for miles to go to school and their shoulders are heavier than their weight and many children lose their lives due to the strong current of water during the rainy days even while going to school.
What are you doing to protect the environment?
Uttarakhand is the land of Chipko movement, here people were sensitive to nature, which sensitivity is slowly getting lost. But as a young activist, it is one of my personal efforts to create awareness among people for saving forests, saving water sources and rights of common people on natural resources. Along with this, I am directly active in the ongoing movements on environmental and social issues.
Can you share with us a good children and youth activity happening in your community or country to help or protect the environment?
For environmental protection, youth and a large section of the society demanded strong land law in the state which is still going on. Eco walk was organized to protect the natural traditional water sources. Along with this, a movement (Helang Movement) is going on in the entire state for the right of the general public on natural resources, which includes every section of the society including youth.
You are working quite hard to protect your environment! Do you also have a personal dream?
Since coming into the social sector, social change and social justice have become my personal dream and goal for which I am working. A non-discriminatory and egalitarian society is now the goal where there is no violence and discrimination of any kind (on the basis of gender, caste, religion, colour, language, region).