"Green" politicians?

A WWF charter urges political parties to address environmental issues in the forthcoming general elections

Published: Sunday 15 February 1998

-- (Credit: Soumen Bhowmick)World Wide Fund for Nature (India) ( wwf-i ), has released a "Green Charter" urging all political parties to include issues pertaining to environment and development in their election manifesto for the forthcoming general elections. The charter makes several demands: achieving development with equity, alleviation of poverty by meeting the genuine livelihood requirements of the poor, turning family welfare into a people's movement. It wants the ministry of environment and forests to be converted into "ministry of ecological security", laying utmost emphasis to the protection of basic life-support systems of land, water, bio-diversity, forests and atmosphere. The charter also advocates a more meaningful participation in nature conservation through elected panchayats, nagar palikas and zila parishads. According to C Shekar Nambiar, director, communications, wwf-i , the organisation is "hopeful that the charter will get due consideration from the political parties, and wwf-i has already received letters of response from them."

Iqbal Malik, who is with Vatavaran, a ngo says, "We need a green charter because our political leaders will have to realise that our quest for economic development should not affect the environment." The political parties, he says, should be specific about environment in their agendas.

However, how many parties will actually incorporate this charter in their manifesto remains to be seen. "Of course the environment will be given due importance in our election manifesto," says Kesho Bhai Thakre of the Bharitiya Janata Party. But as of now, he is unsure about the specific details.

Following in the footsteps of the wwf-i, several other organisations such as the National Alliance of People's Movement have issued appeals to the various political parties to bring the issues related to the masses, resources and rights into their electoral agenda. Says Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, "The present alliances have no clue of the agendas of the various parties and we demand a clear stand on natural resources and equitable distribution. The parties should spell out their agendas to achieve this."

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