Greenpeace activists try to paint Airtel Green

Greenpeace, the world’s most vocal environmental activist group, has upped the ante in its fight to wean telecom operator Airtel off diesel.

The volunteer organization, which is in the midst of a campaign to get Indian telecom operators to switch over from diesel to solar and other greener options, held placards in front of Airtel’s headquarters in Gurgaon, and had plans of painting the office building with the slogan “Switch off Diesel.”

The group, however, seemed to have failed in carrying out its colourful plans. In a statement, Greenpeace said it displayed the sign “Switch off Diesel” at the company headquarters, going back from its initial design of painting the slogan.

Initially Greenpeace said it planned to have “Switch off Diesel” painted right across their office. “”The company’s failure to respond specifically to key issues on their carbon and energy management has left us with no choice but be here,” said Mrinmoy Chattaraj, Greenpeace campaigner.

After the demonstration, Greenpeace activists were invited by Airtel officials to hold talks. “Though the telecom giant has agreed to meet and discuss the issue, they are still non-committal on the demand,” the group said. It however added that Airtel may come out with timelines for reducing carbon emissions at the next meeting on June 10.

Greenpeace is known for its ‘direct action’ model of environmental activism. The organization carries out highly visible acts — such as painting graffiti over companies’ offices and holding ‘shocking’ demonstrations — to get its message across. The firm frequently unfurls its flags on its targets — such as high security buildings, whaling ships etc..

While other telecom operators too have been requested to switch over from diesel — a polluting fuel — Greenpeace has zeroed in on Airtel as the first target. It said a total of 49,692 people heeded its call to email Airtel with the same request.

“Being the market leader, Airtel enjoys the biggest portion of this subsidised diesel. Airtel’s switch to renewable energy will make a big difference and set an example for others in the sector,” it said.