Su­nita Narain

The en­vi­ron­men­tal bat­tle is one of David against the Go­liaths of the govern­ment and the cor­po­rate world.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - BY SONAL KHETARPAL SU­NITA NARAIN Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Cen­tre for Science and En­vi­ron­ment

Su­nita Narain is a woman with a mis­sion. It is not easy to take up the cud­gels for In­dia’s frag­ile ecosys­tem and make one’s voice heard. But the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Cen­tre for Science and En­vi­ron­ment ( CSE) re­mains un­daunted. “This year I am so an­gry, so an­gry... be­cause of ris­ing air pol­lu­tion and the use of haz­ardous pet­coke and fur­nace oil. I am still fight­ing it,” says the Padma Shri win­ner who is also the ed­i­tor of the fort­nightly mag­a­zine Down To Earth.

Since she joined the CSE in 1982, Narain has been work­ing on a wide range of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, help­ing change poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions in ar­eas such as air pol­lu­tion, food safety, solid waste man­age­ment and cli­mate change.

The fight against air pol­lu­tion started in 1996 and CSE fought hard to en­sure that Delhi’s pub­lic trans­port sys­tem would run on com­pressed nat­u­ral gas, a clean fuel. Narain says it takes around 10-15 years to cre­ate aware­ness and then some more to get the so­lu­tion im­ple­mented. She is now work­ing on tight­en­ing pol­lu­tion con­trol norms for diesel ve­hi­cles.

CSE also de­manded a ban on the use of en­do­sul­fan in the early 2000s when the harm­ful side ef­fects of chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides were not even talked about. In 2011, the Supreme Court passed an in­terim order to ban the pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­bu­tion and use of en­do­sul­fan in Kerala where health is­sues were re­ported due to its spray­ing on cashew plan­ta­tions. In May 2017, the CSE re­leased a study that found potas­sium bro­mate–a pos­si­ble can­cer­caus­ing chem­i­cal – in 38 sam­ples of pop­u­lar bread brands in Delhi, push­ing the Food Safety and Stan­dards Au­thor­ity of In­dia to re­move it from its list of per­mis­si­ble ad­di­tives.

Every bat­tle is tough, says Narain, for it is a bat­tle of David against the Go­liaths of the govern­ment and the cor­po­rate world. “But it is our job to re­port what we see.” ~

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