Disappearing trees, a polluted river and a handful of concerned citizens. Delhi, burning under the scorching summer sun, heralded World Earth Day Sunday, by raising its voice on various issues that are pricking our fragile ecosystem.
'We are on the brink of a challenge,' said Ravi Aggarwal of Toxics Link, an environmental NGO. 'The issue of stopping deforestation and felling of trees in the name of development needs to be addressed immediately and a day such as this is a good platform to raise consciousness among the people,' he said.
Sensitisation of people is what Manoj Misra, convenor of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, also believes in.
An initiative to save the Yamuna river from further pollution, the Abhiyan was to take out a candlelight vigil on the banks of the Yamuna later in the day. 'Since today is the world earth day, we want to use this as a platform to reach out to the common man as well as to the higher powers,' Misra told IANS.
'We feel that not only people are ignorant of the problem that the Yamuna is facing today but are also indifferent. Why else, despite knowing that it is one of the most polluted rivers, will they keep on building up various constructions on its floodplains and contribute non- biodegradable wastes to it?' he asked.
Be it the Shastri Park metro station or the upcoming Yamuna metro station of the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC), be it the Akshardham temple or the site for the Commonwealth Games 2010, various authorised structures are built on the Yamuna's floodplains.
As a result, not only do the chances of the river pollution increase, but it also short-circuits the huge water potential beneficial to the city, since the floodplains are an important source of groundwater recharge.
'It's a problem which can be solved only when people themselves become conscious about it,' said Nanni Singh, executive director of Trees for Delhi, a coalition of experts, environmentalists, NGOs and citizens who want to protect the green cover of the city.
Although disappointed after meeting Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on the issue, neither Singh nor any of the coalition's members, is ready to give up.
Aggarwal, who is also part of the coalition, said: 'Now that we did not get much support from the chief minister in protecting the green cover of Delhi, the solution lies with us.
'We have to get engaged with the problem and plant trees, stop felling of trees in out own area and save the city and the earth.'