Out of the limelight, but spot on
Parineeta works for the ‘South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People’ (SANDRP) in India. She is a great example of the new generation of environmentalists in her own country, and perhaps the rest of the world as well. Like the generation before her, she opposes the construction of large dams, because these have disastrous consequences for the living environment of local residents. In this struggle, she not only faces her own government, but also the World Bank and other global players – including the Dutch government – who think large dams are the solution to climate change.
Parineeta takes action. Not the way others do: she doesn’t set up global campaigns, but studies the law and demands that it is abided by. She sees to it that local communities can participate, as is the law in India; and that everyone has access to all information that, according to this same law, has to be public.
Her struggle takes time, energy and patience. What it definitely doesn’t need is a lot of publicity. In India as well as in the Netherlands, consensus is the key to success; publicity and campaigns have a polarising effect and take her further from her goal. But in order to reach consensus, Parineeta and her organisation do have to fight for information to be disclosed, for access to relevant data, and for
a decision-making agenda that suits the people she represents.
In a recent speech for Dutch ambassadors, Minister for Overseas Development Ploumen acknowledged that social organisations are the driving force behind social change. People like Parineeta deserve our respect and especially our support, so, quietly and out of the limelight, they can keep doing their oh-so-important work.
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