Sustainable alternatives exist. We need the political will and the people’s will to replace old practices and old solutions. You think about the number of dams that have destroyed our rivers. It causes more destruction than the benefits from it. Ill planned development exists not because of apathy but due to ignorance. If people understood the co-relation and the interdependence of ecology and environment with economy and growth and human development we would not be waging the war against nature that we waging now.

We had multiple elephants deaths across the country caused by traffic and more so due to train lines. Let’s address the factors related to the infrastructure. For the longest time in India and the world, industries and economies perceived conservationists as obstructionists and not as human rights advocates. It has taken the world 30 years to realize and acknowledge that environment protection is human rights issue. It is in fact a human rights issue. In order for that message to percolate into the consciousness of administrators, bureaucrats, politicians will take some time but the speed of that has increased significantly because of the connectivity that the world is experiencing courtesy technology and media. That is where the optimist in me comes forth and says that: Yes, we may have destroyed a significant amount of biodiversity due to industrialization and urbanization, but I also believe that in less than 20 years from now we will have fixed a lot. Because we can.

I remember when I was working for an organization that was raising funds for under privileged children who are born with holes in their hearts. Those born in street situations. I remember saying that you know these industries and their impact on the environment. Don’t the govt bodies recognize that the polluted air is destroying the future of children in this country and therefore they are born with heart ailments and lung impairments. And all kinds of diseases, the risk of cancer and other diseases has gone up significantly and it is all connected to the air and the food and the water. Why are we not doing more? Why are we not seeing that connection?

Because I think that we have not succeeded in many areas to establish this connection. Simply because most enterprises work in isolation. If people could just come together and speak in a unified voice we would not find it to be the challenge that it is to convey. I really feel that if environment worked more closely with tourism and education, we would actually start seeing a lot more change on the ground much faster.

(Dia Mirza speaks to in an interview)