Human chain formed across Bihar to champion environment cause

Braving cold weather, over five crore people joined hands at the call of chief minister Nitish Kumar to form human chain across Bihar to champion the cause of environment as part of the ‘Jal Jeevan Hariyali’ campaign on Sunday. On the occasion, messages about de-addiction and against child marriage and dowry were also spread.

Kumar, during his address at historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna, said that the targeted length would certainly be achieved due to reports of enthusiastic participation from all the districts, but the exact figure would be announced later by chief secretary.

However, later in the evening, chief secretary Dipak Kumar told media persons after gathering information from all the districts that the event evoked greater participation than expected and turned out to 18034-km long involving 5.16 crore people. “This way, Bihar has made history with the longest ever human chain in the world,” he added.

Though Opposition parties mostly distance themselves from the event and criticized it as extravagance, all the BJP leaders, including state president Sanjay Jaiswal and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, the entire state cabinet, Bihar Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Legislative Council acting chairman Md Haroon Rashid and many others joined the human chain. Some MLAs of the RJD were also seen in the human chain, disregarding the party stand and indicating their likely shift in the election year.

Waterman and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) country head Atul Bagai were also present along side the Bihar CM to lend their support to the environmental campaign. The Waterman said that the campaign was a novel initiative of Nitish Kumar, as the cycle of crops is directly related to cycle of rain. His organisation Tarun Bharat Sangh also honoured Kumar.

The chief minister said that it was the people of Bihar who deserved the honour for such a spirited participation. He said the challenges of climate change were manifesting in more ways than, viz. erratic rainfall, rising temperature, frequent lightning strikes and fast depleting underground water and forest cover in the state as well as other parts of the globe.

“We have to make efforts together to face this challenge to secure a better future for coming generations. I am happy that I witnessed tremendous spirit among the people for the environment cause during my yatra. It has been named Jal Jeevan Hariyali, because life cannot be examined without water and greenery,” the chief minister said at the main function, organised at the historic Gandhi Maidan, where school children, men and women assembled early morning. Choppers also hovered over Gandhi Maidan to take pictures and drones were put at different locations in the state capital and major towns to capture the attendance of people in the event.

Kumar said that while the government would work in mission mode, societal participation was more important to spread the message of spreading green cover and water conservation so that ecological balance could be maintained in the state and the message could reach across the globe. “We started the campaigns on social issues in 2017 and it will only grow in the years to come. We have to encourage everyone to be part of it,” the CM added.

Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said that the ‘historic event’ was not just a human chain, but a combined resolve of the people to join hands for the issue of climate challenge. “The government has earmarked Rs 24500 crore to realise the objectives of the ‘Jal Jeevan Hariyali’ campaign, which will include plantation of nine crore saplings in the next three year. Bihar is the first state to make such a determined effort to tackle the environment challenge with people’s participation,” he added.

BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal said that there was no reason for the opposition to criticise a non-political campaign. “This is for our children so that they also get the pristine environment that we had got in our childhood. If the opposition parties want to oppose everything, it is their wisdom,” he added.

This was the third human chain since 2017, when it was formed for the first time to champion the cause of prohibition. The very next year, another one was formed against child marriage and dowry, which have high prevalence in the state.

Length of human chain

2017 – Estimated 11000 kms

2018 – Estimated 13500 kms

2020 – Expected 16351-kms

People involved: Estimated 4.27 cr

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