Jaipur, Jan 27 (PTI) Environmentalist and author Prerna Singh Bindra said today that anyone questioning the government’s development strategy would be called an “anti- national” and called for a rethink of the policy. Also Read - Twitter Announces New Feature That Would Let Users Charge Followers, Netizens React

Speaking at a session titled “In Denial: Betrayals of the Earth” at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, she noted that despite having a “culture closely linked to the environment, we destroy it”. Also Read - Information Technology Rules, 2021: Govt Announces Guidelines to Regulate Social Media, OTT Platforms | Key Points

She said the current government rested a lot on nationalism and on its symbols. Also Read - Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TikTok Adopt Australian Misinformation Code to Address Spread of Fake News

“As an environmentalist if you say you prefer tigers over highways or you say this forest is important you can’t have an eight-lane highway cutting through it, you will be called an anti-national, because you are coming in the way of what is considered development,” Bindra said.

“But isn’t it being patriotic to have clean air and environment, good hygiene? I would want this government to rethink,” the author of ‘The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis’ said.

Author and journalist Jeffrey Gettleman said it would make a difference if Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote about issues on Twitter.

He said Modi was a huge figure in people’s imagination, and the criticism was that he could do more with it.

“When the air pollution was bad in Delhi, he was silent.

He usually communicates through tweets and he didn’t say anything at a time when AQI level was 500-600. And there was silence from the PMO.

“And a lot of people tell me why doesn’t he write about these things, he can tell people what they can do to cut down on our energy consumption, turn off the lights, take a metro, share a car,” the author of ‘Love, Africa’ said.

While talking about the effects of development, Bindra said it was unfortunate that investment was not happening for last mile connectivity, instead it was happening for thermal power plants which were contributors to pollution.

“In fact, the ministry has said that India does not need any more thermal power plants. We have access to power, it is the distribution that is flawed. And we are still investing in more coal when we know climate change is an issue and coal is a big contributor.

“Construction industry is the biggest polluter but the government has eased the norms in construction industry. The government is not going to act unless voters show they care,” Bindra said.

She pointed out, what was put by Gettleman as “elite buyout”, the issues faced by the poor who cannot afford to buy air purifiers and pollution masks.

“Environment degradation affects the poor the most, because it directly affects his resources. How do we face air pollution, we buy air purifiers, we go to Khan Market and buy masks. What do the poor do?

That’s not a solution. Do we put pressure on the government that it has to address air pollution? Air purifier is not the answer,” she said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.