Coal gives electricity. Coal gives jobs. Coal is necessary for country’s development. But coal is dirty. Coal is polluting. Coal mining is killing forests. And why is it that while coal is affecting everyone around it trees, animals, people urban Indians, living miles away from the coal mines and thermal power plants, but benefiting the most from it, aren’t sharing the ill-effects?
These and many similar questions is what India Beyond Coal campaign will put in front of Mumbaikars over Friday and Saturday through a series of cultural and art events including music and dance performances, mural paintings, skits and rallies. The aim is to use these platforms to make people look beyond coal and promote the use of clean sources of energy like solar and wind energy. The campaign organised by 350.ORG and a host of allied groups.
Although the Mumbai chapter began earlier this week, with school children participating in painting competition where they highlighted the ill effects of coal use, on Friday and Saturday, campaigners will take to the streets to educate people of the harms of coal use, says campaign co-ordinator, Ayesha D’Souza. “We want people to think beyond coal,” she adds.
On Friday, volunteers will carry out small skit outside the Churchgate station on how coal harms the environment. But the main event will be on Saturday, when Mumbaikars join their allies in other parts of the Indian subcontinent to commemorate the International Day of Action Against Coal.
Hira Netarpal, who is looking after the programme in Mumbai, says, “We artistes have always believed in causes, and this is something that needs immediate attention. We have to think about the rainforests and plan for a sustainable future,” he adds. Art Action has organised a series of music and dance performances on Bandra’s Carter Road on Saturday, where break-dancers, classical dancers, rappers and musicians will take to the street to persuade citizens to opt for cleaner energy options.
Fuelling a nation
Chaitanya Kumar, global co-ordinator, 350.ORG, South Asia, says, “There are lots of places in Maharashtra, who despite having a thermal power plant in their backyard for eg Dahanu, are suffering through six-hours of power cut, whereas those in the city get electricity 24x7. But it’s those around the plant who have to pay the price polluted water, polluted air and of course power cut. Our aim is to make people in Mumbai aware of how their need for electricity is creating problems for the environment elsewhere.”
But can developing economies like India, where coal accounts for 55% of the country’s energy need, replace it with a renewable clean source of energy? “We can’t expect coal to be replaced over night, but a start has to be made,” maintains Kumar. D’Souza adds, “Already, we have crossed the upper limit for CO2 in earth’s atmosphere. Changes in weather pattern and erratic monsoons are common. It’s time we use alternative, clean sources of energy like wind and solar energy.”