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Cyclists set out for green GDP

Times of India – 21st November, 2012

By Pinak Priya Bhattacharya

SILIGURI: A group of environmental activists set out from here on a 2,000km awareness yatra on Tuesday to press for the introduction of what they are calling gross environmental product (GEP), a measure similar to GDP for monitoring India’s natural resources.

The 11-member team will travel on bicycles from Siliguri in north Bengal to Dehradun inUttarakhand, covering the distance in 40 days. They will hold meetings along the way to spread the word on why India needs to track its natural resources such as water, air, soil, forests etc.

“Only a stable ecology can lead to a stable economy. Just as the government releases GDP figures, it should also come out with an annual GEP, which would be a tabulation of how each of our natural resources was spent in that year,” said Anil P Joshi, who is leading the yatra. The group, consisting of activists aged 19 to 72, would be travelling through Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Mathura and Delhi, interacting with people to popularize the demand for GEP. “Our mission is to create mass awareness about the need to formulate an ecological growth measure so people know about the health of India’s environment,” said Joshi, a Padma Shri-awardee who runs a Dehra Dun-based NGO, Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization.

GEP is somewhat similar to the concept of a ‘green GDP’ — gross domestic product after being adjusted for environmental costs of economic activity — which the Union environment ministry hopes to roll out by 2015.

The team would cross 55 districts and more than a 1,000 villages to reach the Himalayas. “Our other motto is save the Himalayas. For ages, this mountain range has been providing life to 65% of Indians. Today, Himalayan ecology is threatened and we wish to raise awareness about what this means for people living in the plains,” Joshi said.

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