Mumbai/ New Delhi | Mukul Sharma: Much of present day's climate change activism stems from the understanding of trans-apocalyptic world. That is, one day the world as we see today will cease to exist as it will succumb to an optimal degree of climate change. However, for Mumbai-based Vidhi Bubna, founder of India's first grant for scuba diving, this isn't the case. Having seen the blooming Coral Reefs in Indian ocean turning white due to bleaching within a brief span of 20 days, she seconds that we are in the middle of an ecological crisis when the deterioration of environment is ongoing.

"You might feel that 20 days is a short period to observe climate change. But within that span I saw corals that were colorful and bloomed were bleaching and turning white," 23-year-old Vidhi Bubna told Jagran English, adding that she knows people who saw such changes even within a span of seven days.

Coral bleaching takes place when ocean temperatures get too warm for corals to survive. The coral first "bleaches" and then turns white to eventually die down. The dying down of Corals results in the dying down of much of underwater ecosystem in Oceans, as they provide habitat and food source for aquatic animals. Without corals, these organisms die down too.

"Coral bleaching is real," Vidhi argues, adding that its extent is going unnoticed by many.

After completing the training and required certifications for scuba diving, Vidhi says that she came to know that people in India rarely had the access to the underwater world of Coral Reefs. This, Vidhi adds, was more to do with lack of funding than the absence of passionate individuals.

Thereby, Vidhi Bubna founded 'Coral Warriors', India's first diving grant that recognises the role that first hand observations during diving can make in combating climate change, "with the intention of sponsoring the Indian citizens to go diving".

'We want to sponsor people who want to make an impact'

"Diving grants like this in countries like the UK, Australia, USA and other countries already exist but in India this is the first one," Vidhi says.

Since each grant entails a considerable amount of 70,000, according to Coralwarriors.org website, Vidhi contends that the selection criterion for the applicants is stringent.

"We only take people who are going to work on an active project related to Climate Change or marine life in particular and the one who want to dive," says Vidhi.

"We want to sponsor people who want to make an impact," Vidhi adds further.

While you may hear a lot about what all can be done to prevent deforestation or melting down of glaciers, not much is reported on prevention of coral bleaching. Vidhi says that she would like this to change. "We need more people to stand up for causes. People won't really know what the Corals are till they observe them. That's why, we want to sponsor people go diving so that can actually see the changes happening and take immediate action," Vidhi told Jagran English.

Asked if Indians are aware about the extent of damage being done to the marine life along its vast coastline of 7,516 km, Vidhi says that for most part, one can't go and observe underwater marine life because it's that polluted.

Trying to take an optimistic peek into future of diving from India, Vidhi says that ten years down the line 'Coral Warriors' would have sent "a lot of Indians to dive". She adds that she would like to see Indians heading the global narrative on climate change on their own. "I want to see an Indian doing that worldwide," Vidhi completes.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma