GUWAHATI, May 28 - An online campaign launched by various organisations to save the Dehing Patkai rainforests of Assam has gained momentum by leaps and bounds, making it one of the most intense online campaigns witnessed in the country in recent times.
Concerned citizens across India have increasingly been expressing their angst on Twitter and other social media platforms using hashtags such as #SaveDehingPatkai, #IndiaAgainstDeforestation, #DumbOrGreedy, #SaveAmazonOfEast, #SaveDibangValley, #SaveEIA and others.
The online movement initiated by Gauhati University’s eco club ‘Moi Prokriti’ to save the Dehing Patkai rainforests from coal mining has drawn overwhelming response from the netizens, so much so that the campaign – started on May 13, 2020 – trended at number 1 in all-India trends and across most cities in the country on May 24.
The nationwide tweet storm effected by Moi Prokriti in collaboration with the students of Tezpur University, Dibrugarh University, Cotton University and Bhattadev University (Bajali) and supported by citizens from different parts of the nation has also been among the top-trending campaigns in different states.
“Citizens across the length and breadth of India were unified in their demand from the Government of India to #SaveDehingPatkai, #SaveAmazonOfEast and #SaveDibangValley,” Parshwa Patgiri, a GU student and a member of Moi Prokriti, said.
The campaign has also brought to its fold many celebrities. Actor Randeep Hooda even used the hashtag in his earlier posts’ thread in support of the ‘tweet storm’ on Sunday.
“Called Amazon of the East, Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and the larger Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve have everything from elephants, cats to bears, famous Assam macaque in which the govt has performed mining. Do we need another COVID-19 to realize how important biodiversity is,” he tweeted alongside a connect to a change.org campaign addressed to the Chief Minister of Assam, among others.
Bollywood actor Dia Mirza additionally took to Twitter to voice her supposition, tweeting #SaveDehingPatkai along with a quote by ‘Forest Man of India’ Jadav Payeng.
Actor Adil Hussain tweeted “If this is true than let’s not let this happen! Not after all this! Let’s think beyond human needs now!!”
Singer-composer Papon extended his solidarity with “I stand by you @paponmusic I am flabbergasted why would the Authorities allow such destruction to take place when we are to move away from conventional energy towards alternative solutions? Please stop this coal mining at #DehingPatkai #savedihingpatkai.”
Patgiri said they had also roped in singer-composers Joi Barua and Vishal Dadlani, and comedian Abhineet Mishra, among others, for the Moi Prokriti campaign.
The Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve and the neighbouring Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh are recognised as among the most biodiversity-rich forest habitats not just in India but globally too.
“Conservationists are unanimous that this haven of some of the most rare, endangered and endemic flora and fauna would be lost forever with the nod given by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for clearing more than 6,00,000 mature trees in Dibang Valley for two environmentally destructive hydropower projects (Etalin and Dibang multipurpose projects) and by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for coal mining in 98.59 hectares in Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve,” he added.
Subtropical forests like these are complex ecosystems with species that have evolved over millions of years. Once cut, they will be lost forever. The Dehing Patkai range remains the State’s last vestiges of rainforests famed for its flora and fauna.