MUMBAI, April 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A
nine-year-old girl has filed a legal case against the Indian
government for failing to take action on climate change,
highlighting the growing concern over pollution and
environmental degradation in the country.
In the petition filed with the National Green Tribunal
(NGT), a special court for environment-related cases, Ridhima
Pandey said the government has failed to implement its
"As a young person (Ridhima) is part of a class that amongst
all Indians is most vulnerable to changes in climate, yet are
not part of the decision making process," the 52-page petition
The petition called on the tribunal to direct the government
"to take effective, science-based action to reduce and minimise
the adverse impacts of climate change".
The tribunal has asked the Ministry of Environment and the
Central Pollution Control Board to respond within two weeks.
A spokesman from the Ministry of Environment told the
Thomson Reuters Foundation that they would respond as directed
by the tribunal.
India is home to four of the 10 worst ranked cities in the
world for air pollution. Along with China, India accounted for
more than half the total number of global deaths attributable to
air pollution in 2015, according to a recent study.
Despite several laws to protect India's forests, clean up
its rivers and improve air quality, critics are concerned that
implementation is poor, and economic growth often takes
precedence over the environment.
Flash floods and landslides in the Himalayan state of
Uttarakhand, where Ridhima lives, killed hundreds of people and
left tens of thousands homeless in 2013.
The devastation affected Ridhima, the daughter of an
environmental activist, said Rahul Choudhary, a lawyer
"For someone so young, she is very aware of the issue of
climate change, and she is very concerned about how it will
impact her in future," he said.
"She wanted to do something that can have a meaningful
effect, and we suggested she could file a petition against the
government," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Ridhima is not the first child in India to take the
government to task over inaction to protect the environment.
Last year, six teenagers filed a petition with the NGT over
air pollution in New Delhi which has the worst air quality in
India is taking some action to mitigate the damage. As a
signatory to the Paris agreement on climate change, it is
committed to ensuring that at least 40 percent of its
electricity is generated from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030.
In her petition, Ridhima asked the court to order the
government to assess industrial projects for climate-related
issues, prepare a "carbon budget" to limit carbon dioxide
emissions, and create a national climate recovery plan.
"That a young girl is doing so much to draw the government's
attention is something. We hope the case puts some pressure on
the government to act," said Choudhary.
(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Belinda
Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
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