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Experts, Celebrities Speak On How To Sustain The Environmental Gains Post The Coronavirus Lockdown

Experts, Celebrities Speak On How To Sustain The Environmental Gains Post The Coronavirus Lockdown

There are many negatives of the Novel Coronavirus, which made its entry in India in January with the first case being reported from Kerala. Amid the rise in coronavirus cases, on March 24, India put its 1.3 billion citizens into a strict lockdown. But the silver lining in all this is that since the lockdown has begun, nature has been given a rest and it has never looked more beautiful. Our air is cleaner than it has been for years, our skies are blue and clear. With a motive to keep these environmental gains from slipping away once the lockdown is lifted, NDTV and Hero Cycles have joined hands and initiated a campaign #TheCycleOfChange.  The campaign aims to provide a platform to discuss life after lockdown and how do we keep these environmental gains from slipping away completely? 

As a part of the campaign, a 2-hour special telethon was organised and experts, social workers and celebrities came together to discuss these issues.

Joining the telethon with NDTV's Dr Prannoy Roy, Pankaj Munjal, Chairman & Managing Director, Hero Motors Company said,

Nature has shown us loud and clear that we must work together and respect the mother Earth. There will be no progress without sustainability. I would like to complement Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the team for the way we have tackled the pandemic. It is the biggest lockdown the world has ever seen.

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He further added,

We have seen, because of the coronavirus and lockdown, the cycle sales have surged as social distancing is not possible in a public vehicle. E-cycle is perfect work-life balance whether it comes to health or commute. I think because of all this, the use of cycle has come back.

Highlighting the benefits of lockdown especially when it comes to air pollution, Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre For Science And Environment said,

This is an amazing time, we have seen such a dramatic difference in air quality, not so much in water pollution. But all this comes at a huge cost.

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She also said that lockdown is not a solution and we can not depend on it for clean air. She added,

Now that we have seen clean air or clearer skies are possible, we all need to work and ensure how to maintain the benefit of it, once the lockdown is lifted.

Actor and Producer Anil Kapoor too joined the telethon and spoke about the many positives of lockdown amid coronavirus crisis, he added, 

Be fit, healthy, there should be no plastic and waste, ensure social distancing is maintained. Moreover, we need to educate the masses on the advantages and disadvantages of this pandemic. Corporations and actors should step up and help make people aware. It's our generation that has completely ruined the Earth, so we need to ensure a better future for coming generations. There is a need to educate them on the advantage of conservation of water and how we all can contribute to make our air cleaner.

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Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Founder, Isha Foundation joined the telethon and said,
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I know there is a lot of elegising of the lockdown as the environment goes. Maybe after nearly six weeks of lockdown, we can see nature's capability of bouncing back. Geographically, as a nation, there is an improvement, but let's not be too excited about it. If there is no long term commitment, it won't help. Biodiversity of the planet is falling apart when plants and animals are going away like this. It's not ecological change it's a civic change.
Talking about the life after lockdown and vaccine for the highly contagious virus, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon Ltd added,
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There are multiple efforts for developing a vaccine and drugs being tried that can help in the treatment of coronavirus. I hope after lockdown, people continue to protect themselves with masks and social distancing. Moreover, Corporate India needs to do a lot and should monitor their employees, as they play a huge role.

Discussing the life's new normal and lifestyle habits, Actor & Writer Kalki Koechlin added, "I think the way the things are going and lockdown getting extended, it has really given all of us the chance to think about the environment."

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She further said, "I hope we find ways in which we can reduce our emissions, our waste at home. I have realised during this time that I don't want to waste so much. I have started composting, recycling, these are the individual choices one can make at this point in time.”

Navroz Dubash, Professor, Centre For Policy Research highlighting how this lockdown has impacted the environment added,

When we think about the environment, there have been gains but at the cost of economic hardships for many. We need to ask - what can we do, we who have not been at the brunt of this lockdown.

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He further added, “The single biggest gain is definitely air pollution. We need to close down old and polluting power plants and switch to renewable energy. This is the perfect time to make this healthy switch.”

Jemimah Rodrigues, Indian Women's ODI & T20 Team highlighting how one can be socially distant and yet stay physically fit said, “Cycling is one of the best exercises to keep fit. It is a part of my workout as well. We need to make use of what we have to stay healthy during this time.”

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Actor and Producer Zayed Khan talking on the same lines and added,

The idea is to keep the mind and body fit for the balance. We are humans and always fight to come on top and right now we need to do that to see how to come on top as a model society. It's a great opportunity to come together and find innovative solutions.

Sachin Pilot, Deputy Chief Minister, Rajasthan talked about the lockdown and coronavirus crisis and said,

Environment benefits are coming at an economic cost in this tough time. In Rajasthan, we want to revive our economy, we want to adopt best practices and ensure social distancing. Contribution of people is important in all this, but if we want to leave a good environment for future generations we need behavioural change.

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He further added, “Before we ask our citizens to make this huge choice to move from automobiles to cycles, we need to ensure that proper infrastructure is there.”

 Actor Divya Dutta joined #TheCycleOfChange telethon and talked about how the lockdown has given us so much time and said,

I think since we are all in lockdown and we get thoughts, it's time we learn something from it once it is all over. The most amazing thing from sitting at home is seeing birds like sparrows and parrots which were a rare sight. Earlier we could only see aeroplanes but that has now become a rare sight. We need to balance all our activities to be able to beautifully coexist.

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Talking about the sustainable, healthy and safe lifestyle, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister, Road Transport & Highways Of India said, “Since 7-8 years, I have been pushing for e-vehicles. In this time, we have not just seen the pollution levels go down, we used to have 5 lakh accidents every year now this has reduced as well. All this has given us time to think that we all need to maintain our environment.”

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