Sometimes, borders and nationalities just become mere lines on a map. They are identities that do not define people. Sometimes, people are closer than ever because of their shared beliefs. The story of Dharnai and Marshall Islands is something like this.
Tale of two worlds – Ashok Kumar and Milan Loeak.
Who are they?
Ashok Kumar hails from Dharnai, Bihar. An eastern state in India where almost 80% villages still do not have access to electricity. His village was recently illuminated by an off grid solar microgrid. Dharnai has been nicknamed as the ‘solar’ village in the region. From having no electricity for 30 years, Dharnai has gone to producing clean and renewable power!
Milan Loeak resides in Marshall Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean. Her home is threatened by the rising sea levels as a direct result of climate change. The fossil fuel industry is one of the biggest reasons for carbon emissions. Mashall Islands’s existence is in jeopardy, with ocean levels rising Marshall Islands will be one of the first islands to go!
What is the relation between the two?
Dharnai refused to give into the trap of the fossil fuel industry. In fact, it was failed by the system; it was failed by the fossil fuel distribution for over 30 years. Dharnai was kept out of the developing world because it could not get access to energy. But today, Dharnai basks in the power of sun’s energy. It has leapfrogged from dirty fossil fuel to clean, renewable and sustainable solar energy.
Marshall Islands, who do not contribute any significant amount to the global carbon emissions, who do not consume as much, who do not have any role in the rising sea levels, are about to lose their home in the next coming decades!
How is this fair? Marshall Islands is only the beginning, if we do not switch to renewable sources of energy on mass scale soon, many more communities are going to become landless, homeless and identity less.
Ashok Kumar recently commented at the people’s climate march rally in New Delhi, “The light from the solar microgrid is from sun’s power. It is not generated after destruction of forests and pristine mountains!”
Above: Ashok Kumar from Dharnai, Bihar and Milan Loeak from Marshall Islands
He also spoke on deforestation and the effects of climate change. He said, “The lives of the indigenous communities will be heavily disrupted. Additionally, if forests remain, they provide food and other needs to the communities. If they are displaced, they will lose the sense of belonging. The government displaces people to different places, but it only provides temporary relief." He spoke about how he met members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) in the rally and expressed how he wish they could implement the Dharnai solar model in Mahan, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh. A region whose forest were threatened until recently by coal mining.
Ashok Kumar and Milan Loeak do not know each other, but they come from places which stand as examples of struggle, empowerment and change. What Dharnai did can be achieved across the globe. To go ahead in life, we do not need to destroy others.
Milan Loeak is about to embark on a historical journey. She is going to block a coal port in Newcastle, Australia along with her climate warrior brothers and sistsers. It’s one of the biggest in the world. Loeak will be there with her climate warrior brothers and sisters to block the dirty coal plant, which threatens her home. Stand with Milan on 17th October!
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