Ridhima Pandey (13), a class IX student of the CBSE-affiliated BMDAV Centenary Public School, Haridwar, Uttarakhand is the Indian counterpart of Swedish teenage green warrior and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who was recently named Time magazine’s Person of the Year 2019. She persuaded the Supreme Court to review her 2017 petition complaining of government inaction against climate change which was rejected by National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the plea that it contained “flimsy grounds”.
In September 2019, Ridhima was invited to join a group of 15 student activists worldwide led by Thunberg, which congregated in New York to file a landmark law-suit against five countries — Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey — under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, for failing to substantially reduce their carbon emissions.
The elder of two children of Dinesh Pandey, a field officer of the Wildlife Trust of India, and Vinita, a beat officer in Uttarakhand’s forest department, Ridhima began her green crusade when she was just nine after she moved with her parents from the small town of Haldwani to the holy city of Haridwar in 2013. “I was deeply moved by pictures of floating trees, cars, animals, flooded homes and especially of weeping children in the devastating floods of 2013. Three years later in 2016, I accompanied my father to the national capital and filed a petition before NGT, praying for a directive to the Central government to fight climate change. The tribunal dismissed my petition. I hope the Supreme Court will act on this urgent matter,” she says.
Committed to saving our fragile Planet Earth from environmental upheavals, Ridhima is clear about her future study options. “I am exploring pre-university courses and a bachelor’s programme in environmental science in Indian and foreign universities. My ultimate dream is to work full-time with the Environment Conservation Trust, an NGO promoted by my father in 2019, and to co-ordinate a national Clean Ganga campaign, ban plastic, recycle waste
and undertake other green projects to save India’s children and youth,” says this committed environment activist.
Autar Nehru (Delhi)