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Environment

Backgrounders

'India's culture of conservation'

By Neema Pathak Broome

Local communities and conservation Wildlife sanctuaries

A brief history of conservation in India, from the administration of Emperor Ashoka to official policy and community conservation in contemporary India

The last few centuries have been dominated by human beings, and are referred to by some scholars as ‘anthropocene’, or a period of human domination over the planet. This domination, as we know, has impacted the planet, leading to, among other things, the rapid depletion of wildlife and their habitat.

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»A history of forest regulations By Archana Vaidya
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»Environment : Background & Perspective  By Ashish Kothari,KaustubhMoghe, Neema Pathak
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Analysis

TPP: Is big money set to trump democracy?

By Suman Sahai

increasingly democratic nature of the WTO

Unhappy with the increasingly democratic nature of the WTO, the US is striking back with the Trans Pacific Partnership, which will enable powerful corporations to override the legal frameworks of nation-states, writes Suman Sahai

A highly controversial trade agreement led by the US is being negotiated in such utter secrecy that until recently just a handful of people had any knowledge of what was being decided behind closed doors.
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»Enabling transfer of green technology is the key to stemming climate change By Vineet John Samuel
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»The committee cop-out By Milind Wani
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»Bumper-to-bumper dams By Parineeta Dandekar
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Features

Inspiration from Burning Man

By Rajni Bakshi

decommodifyTake a break from your worries about the Indian economy and spare a moment for those who are worrying about civilisation itself, as at the Burning Man Festival

We are in the midst of a season of lament. As the rupee continues its sharp downward spiral a mood of gloom and doom has settled in. When pessimism strikes in this manner, it is imperative to step back and take a wide and long-range view of things.

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»Barla’s battle of Nagri By Moushumi Basu
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»Climate change is a depressing reality in Assam By Aditya Malaviya
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»Token ombudsman? By Kanchi Kohli
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Rethinking Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power: Myths, realities and FAQs

By Nityanand Jayaraman and G Sundar Rajan

Besides Koodankulam, local communities in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, and Gorakhpur, Haryana, are nixing nuclear power plants in their area. But government continues to maintain they are 100% safe, and that there is no alternative to nuclear energy. Nityanand Jayaraman and G Sundar Rajan dispel misconceptions about the safety of nuclear energy

Since August 2011, Tamil Nadu has witnessed renewed protests against the commissioning of the first of two 1,000 MW power plants as part of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).

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»Why nuclear power is not our gateway to a prosperous future
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»Twenty years of resistance at Koodankulam By Patibandla Srikant
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»Nuclear disasters worldwide: 1952-2011
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Politics of Diversity

No food security without ecological and livelihood security

By Ashish Kothari

Food Security Bill

Providing food for the poor is important, says Ashish Kothari, but the Food Security Bill must also create the conditions under which people can provide food for themselves, or have the means to buy it

The most interesting part of the National Food Security Bill 2011 is in an annex that is not operationalised by the Bill. Schedule III, which contains steps necessary to ensure the conditions under which food security can become a meaningful, long-term right of people, is relegated to the status of an intention.

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»The future no one wants? By Ashish Kothari
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»2012: A year for transformation? By Ashish Kothari
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Eco-logic

Turning a blind eye to cell tower radiation risks

By Darryl D'Monte

cell tower radiationThe Maharashtra government has finally accepted that nearly half of Mumbai’s cell towers are illegal. However, the government is still not admitting the health risks posed by these towers

t long last, the Maharashtra government has reacted to the burgeoning menace of cell towers, which emit harmful radiation. The Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav has announced that 1,830 cell towers out of 3,705 in the city – very nearly half -- do not have permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and action will be initiated against the housing societies that gave the green signal for such installations.

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»Acting globally and locally By Darryl D'Monte
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»Softening the diesel blow By Darryl D'Monte
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»From ‘Garibi Hatao’ to ‘Garib Hatao’ By Darryl D'Monte
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Books & Reports

Putting people before economies

By Ranjan K Panda

Natural embankments Maplecroft studyNew research by Maplecroft discusses the economic cost of climate change and puts the focus on building flood defences and other infrastructural resilience. Surely the focus should be on rethinking big business’s destruction of local ecologies instead?

Even as Odisha and Andhra Pradesh continue to fight the aftermath of cyclonic storm Phailin, new research suggests that cyclones, floods, drought and other climate change-induced disasters will affect one-third of the world’s emerging economies, severely hampering them.

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»Learning from China By Nitya Sambamurti Ghotge
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Changemakers

Green warriors of the Garo hills

By Teresa Rehman

 Garo Students Union, and its dynamic leader Prosper S Marak

Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills are under serious threat from illegal coal mining. The Garo Students Union, and its dynamic leader Prosper S Marak, have been battling to preserve the biodiversity of this region. Marak was declared Earth Hero for 2009 and also won the Young Naturalist Award for 2009

In Meghalaya’s inaccessible South Garo Hills, an ‘eco-mutiny’ went virtually unnoticed.

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»Tribal activist takes on steel giant By Moushumi Basu
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»Satish Kumar: Walking the talk By Naveen Vasudevan
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»Cleaning up the Ganga By Rashme Sehgal
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Toxic Tours

Toxic Tours - XIX: Toxic Trespass

By Sharyle Patton

The right to bear a family and the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, particularly their own fertility, are being seriously compromised by exposure to toxic chemicals

Unlike our great-grandmothers - who lived out their lives before the chemical revolution began to unfold in the mid-1950s - we have taken in hundreds of toxic substances. Many take up residence in our body fat, where they may remain for decades; others are absorbed into the body and quickly metabolised and excreted.

Biomonitoring provides a snapshot of these body burdens and constitutes ultimate proof of our exposure. The data it provides have profound implications for women everywhere.

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»Toxic Tours - XVIII: One man's gadget is another man's poison By Lisa Batiwalla
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»Toxic Tours - XVII: White asbestos: Silent killer By Gopal Krishna
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»Toxic Tours - XVI: The dirty dozen By Papiya Sarkar
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Stories of Change

A rakhi for trees

By Moushumi Basu

Mahadev Mahato

The Taru Bandhan ritual being practised in the tribal heartland of Jharkhand has helped restore and conserve hundreds of acres of forestland in the state.

The tribal heartland of Jharkhand in eastern India has evolved a unique tradition of forest conservation -- tying rakhis to trees. Rakhi is an Indian festival for siblings where the sister ties an auspicious thread of love on her brother’s wrist, amidst great revelry and feasting. The latter, in turn, promises her protection throughout his life.

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»Agartala to become India's first 'green city' By Teresa Rehman
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News

Himachal Pradesh becomes first Indian state to sell carbon credits to the World Bank

Himachal Pradesh is the first Indian state to sell carbon credits under the UN-mandated Clean Development Mechanism to the World Bank from new forests to be developed largely on waste ground

Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in India to sign an agreement with the World Bank to secure carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in 11 watershed divisions under the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project.

Under the agreement, the World Bank will buy carbon credits from new forests being developed on degraded land in Himachal Pradesh under a watershed management programme called the Reforestation Project-Improving Livelihood and Watersheds Project.

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»World Bank-funded project runs into local resistance in Himachal
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»Four dead, many injured in farmer protest in Noida
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Statistics

Waste Characterization

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Status of Municipal Solid Waste Management in Selected Metro Cities

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Average Noise Levels in Various Metropolitan Cities

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Statewise Production of Coal and Lignite

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Bhopal Survivors Movement

'The Fire we ignited'

By Suroopa Mukherjee

Bhopal campaign for justice

How did the Bhopal campaign for justice come to be led by uneducated, cloistered women who had scarcely stepped out of their homes? Why are these women willing to stake both family and social priorities to create space for political engagement? This article looks at the gender dimension of the 25-year-old Bhopal survivors movement.

Gender has been a key concept in the Bhopal movement for justice. To begin with, women were the most vulnerable victims of the gas leak in 1984, both in terms of the breakup of the family unit, and problems of reproductive health and the social ostracism that followed.

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»The Bhopal Movement as a school By Eurig Scandrett
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Community forests of Orissa

What difference has the Forest Rights Act made?

By Subrat Kumar Sahu

With a strong community forest management network in place, one would think that forest-dependent communities in Orissa would be upbeat about the Forest Rights Act. But even as people’s movements begin to use the Act as a weapon in their struggle, most communities are confused about the scope of the Act and the processes to be used to file community claims to forests

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Technology v/s Tradition

The journey from the private to the common

By Jyothi Krishnan

Does private ownership give the landowner the right to do as he pleases with land and water? It is only a new consciousness of the finiteness of natural resources that will lead to the appreciation that they exist in the common domain; that they can never be left to individual or private discretion, says Jyothi Krishnan  

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Coastal commons

Eminent domain, absolute doubt: Crusade for Goa's comunidades

By Aarthi Sridhar

 GoaUnder Portuguese rule there were 223 comunidades, or independent village republics, in Goa. The people of each comunidade were absolute owners of its lands -- from hilltops to coasts. A people’s movement is now challenging the Indian state’s right to walk in and exercise eminent domain powers and jurisdiction over these lands

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The Paradox of environmentalism

Trapped into farming

By Michelle Chawla

Agriculture in Dahanu

The declaration of Dahanu as an ecologically fragile zone in 1991 has had repercussions on the orchard economy too. Farmers, already troubled by declining yields and globalisation, cannot convert their orchards to non-agricultural use. They feel they are trapped into farming by an environmentalism that is out of context

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Coastal nightmares

Poaching fish in Kutch Sea

By Anosh Malekar

Gujarat's 3.5 lakh fisher people are swept up in a gigantic brawl and   scrambling to surviveCaught between declining fish yields, the carving of the oceans into exclusive economic zones since the 1980s, frequent inquiries and detention by the Indian maritime security forces after the 26/11 terror attacks and the risk of capture by Pakistani maritime authorities, Gujarat’s 3.5 lakh marine fisher folk are fast losing their traditional livelihoods


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Fishing in troubled waters

Whose river is the Godavari?

By R Uma Maheshwari

 lakeWhy is there no mention of fisher communities in the relief & rehabilitation statistics of the Polavaram Dam? If tribal communities can seek land for land, and forest for forest, can the displaced fisherfolk of the Godavari seek a river for a river? Part 2 in our series on the fisherfolk being displaced by the Polavaram Dam

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»Ecology of the river By R Uma Maheshwari
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Despatches from Copenhagen

Bangladesh is ready with a climate change strategy

By Darryl D'Monte

Bangladesh fares better than India on many human development indicators. Now, knowing that they are nature’s laboratory for disaster, they’ve beaten us to a climate change action plant

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Loktak: A dying lake

'There's nothing you didn't get from Loktak'

By Thingnam Anjulika Samom

 You would never come back from Loktak Lake empty-handed in times past, people say. Manipur’s freshwater lake provided fish, fuel, fodder, thatching material, medicinal plants and raw material for handicrafts. Today, both fish and vegetation have dwindled, and with it an important source of livelihood and security for thousands of local residents

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Northeast's fragile ecology

The journey from the private to the common

By Shailendra Yashwant

BhramaputraClimate change and upstream damming are causing the Brahmaputra to flood without rain, rhyme or reason.

The boat lurched dangerously. A sudden change in the water current slapped us around for a few minutes, and the river began rising rapidly, unexpectedly. There were no clouds in the sky, no signs of an impending storm, no radio reports of rains upcountry.

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India's culture of conservation

By Neema Pathak Broome

A brief history of conservation in India, from the administration of Emperor Ashoka to official policy and community conservation in contemporary India

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A history of forest regulations

By Archana Vaidya

A backgrounder on forest governance and forest management legislations in pre-independence and independent India, leading up to the Forest Rights Act 2006

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Environment : Background & Perspective

By Ashish Kothari,KaustubhMoghe, Neema Pathak

Fifty-five years of 'development' have spurred on unplanned urbanisation, extensive industrialisation, and the building of a series of big dams. In the process, India has landed bang in the middle of an ecological crisis. We have lost half our forests, poisoned our waters, eroded our lands and rendered millions homeless, resourceless and more impoverished. Three of our cities are amongst the 15 most-polluted cities in the world. Several of our plant and animal species are extinct. Why and how has this happened? And how can the situation be remedied? What is the difference being made by government legislation and people's movements for the environment?

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Enabling transfer of green technology is the key to stemming climate change

By Vineet John Samuel

As 195 countries meet at CoP21 in Paris to hammer out a treaty on climate change, the only viable solution appears to be to enable and create new bodies to fund the development and transfer of green technology between countries

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TPP: Is big money set to trump democracy?

Unhappy with the increasingly democratic nature of the WTO, the US is striking back with the Trans Pacific Partnership, which will enable powerful corporations to override the legal frameworks of nation-states, writes Suman Sahai

increasingly democratic nature of the WTO

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The committee cop-out

The Indian government seems to resolve all contentious issues related to environment and economic growth by setting up more committees, writes Milind Wani

Environmental protection

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Bumper-to-bumper dams

By Parineeta Dandekar

In a small stretch of the Chenab river basin, Himachal Pradesh is planning 49 major hydroelectric projects which will convert a living river into a series of puddles. It is time India took the cumulative impact of cascading mega hydro projects seriously

Hydroelectric power, Dams, Chenab river, Environment impact assessment study

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World Bank’s new financing model downplays risks

With the World Bank adopting PforR (Programme for Results) as a new lending instrument, it is virtually abandoning many of its rights protection policies, says Joe Athialy

World Bank’s lending policies

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No lessons being learnt from underperforming hydropower projects

By Himanshu Thakkar and Bipin Chaturvedi

Only four of the 12 hydropower projects in the Northeast generate at their projected 90% dependability or higher. The rest are underperforming miserably. Regardless, several big projects are under construction in the Northeast. Why don’t the stakeholders analyse the performance and impact of large hydro projects before promoting more of them?

Large hydropower projects in Northeast Inbdia

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Superweeds, superpests and superprofits

New research from Navdanya and from the US Union of Concerned Scientists proves that Bt cotton yields are actually a third of what Monsanto claims. Genetic engineering is not going to help feed the world, writes Vandana Shiva, but it is going to harm public health and ecosystems

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Laws of the sea

By Aakash Mehrotra and Bhomik Shah

Three recent oil spills off the Mumbai coast have drawn attention to the fact that India, which has 11 major and 20 minor ports, still does not have the response systems to handle oil spills that were mandated by a 1993 law

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Saving the firewall of the Kyoto Protocol

India must respond to the SOS for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol or it may be forced into emission cuts based on global emissions rankings while completely neglecting its poor human development index, says Siddharth Pathak

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Is there really no alternative?

By Milind Wani

If we want economic growth, ‘there is no alternative’ to nuclear power and to the displacement of 1,000 farmers and 6,000 fishermen in Jaitapur. When Lavasa builds over hundreds of hectares, overlooking environmental norms, then too there is no alternative but to appraise the project post-facto! Milind Wani on the mysterious compulsions of the MoEF

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Nuclear tipping points

By Ajit Thamburaj

Nuclear fission has attracted dissent from the time of its inception. But the Fukushima disaster has pushed the nuclear industry into stormy waters worldwide. Local resistance and anti-nuke pressure will result in cost escalations for new nuclear power plants, possibly halting the current nuclear renaissance

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The myth of safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy

The Japanese have been very conscious of the dangers of nuclear weapons, but there has been little support for campaigns against nuclear power. Just as Japan’s unique Peace Constitution evolved from the ruins of World War II, the Fukushima disaster could initiate a new, peaceful and environmentally harmonious society, says Yuki Tanaka  

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Time to rethink nuclear energy?

The crisis in four nuclear power plants in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami is cause to rethink India’s strategy of boosting nuclear energy capacity and setting up the world’s largest nuclear power plant at Jaitapur, says Ranjan K Panda

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Who didn't help Carbide?

‘Who let Warren Anderson go?’ is the wrong question; the right question is ‘Who didn’t let Warren Anderson go?’ writes Jyoti Punwani as she chronicles the betrayals and sellouts after the Bhopal gas tragedy

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Buckling under pressure from MNCs

By Rakesh Shukla

The sorry 26-year saga of the Bhopal gas leak case -- in which the Supreme Court reduced charges from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to death by negligence while the administration bent over backwards to accommodate Warren Anderson -- spotlights the inadequacy of the Indian system to fix liability in industrial disasters and bring the guilty to book

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Testing times...

By Sakuntala Narasimhan

A report in an American journal that Indian spices and ‘cultural powders’ caused lead poisoning in children, seemed to lack the scientific rigour expected of such studies, but the issue of standards of safety to be followed in the manufacture of food stuffs is a very relevant one

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Climate change and the politics of perception

The marketplace for ideas and information is never completely free, open and fair, says Rajni Bakshi. So how do we the people make sense of the conflicting views of the alarmists on climate change and those who deny its seriousness?

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Carbon dating the World Bank

By Richard Mahapatra

The World Bank Group is poised to play a major role in managing climate change funds after Copenhagen. And yet, its lending for fossil fuels has more than doubled in the last decade. Since 1997, the Bank has financed over 26 giga tonnes of carbon emissions. The Bank’s lending to developing countries has ensured that no country will escape the carbon trap for at least 30-40 years

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India's new mineral policy will usher in gloom for adivasis

By Shelley Saha-Sinha

India’s new mineral policy is long on ways to maximise the benefits of mining for “the economy” but short on measures to alleviate the social and environmental destruction that mining activity inevitably brings in its wake

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When people are encumbrances and projects are a national necessity

By Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon

Though the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to the POSCO project in Orissa in August, community resistance continues, fuelled by the arrest of anti-POSCO activist Abhay Sahu

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India's Total Sanitation Campaign: Half full, half empty

By Indira Khurana, Richard Mahapatra and Romit Sen

A soon-to-be released WaterAid India review of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign in five states finds both positives and negatives in the ambitious programme. It also raises some serious questions about sustainability

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Blind spots in India's new National Action Plan on Climate Change

By Rahul Goswami

Instead of having a strongly articulated, clearly thought through vision, India’s new National Action Plan on Climate Change has a basket of eight ‘missions’ and no durable plan that will include the poorest and most vulnerable

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Missing the river for the dam

By Sudhirendar Sharma

Over 3,465 km of embankments have been built as a flood-control measure in Bihar since 1952, and more embankments are in the offing. When will government realise that it is the embankments themselves that are responsible for Bihar's recurrent floods?

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Re-imagining public spaces in cities

By Darryl D'Monte

By conventional standards, Mumbai has perhaps the least amount of open space per person -- 0.03 acres per 1,000 people. But, as a recent study by the design cell of the Kamala Raheja College of Architecture in Mumbai shows, a little 're-imagining' can throw up innovative solutions to enhancing public spaces in Indian cities

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Hot air in Hokkaido

By Darryl D'Monte

One of the worrying outcomes of the recent G8 summit in Hokkaido was the general euphoria about the revival of the nuclear industry, supposedly in the fight against climate change. This is an illusion at best. Only 3% of India's electricity is produced by nuclear plants, and with the Indo-US deal this will increase to 7%, which is by no means radical

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Green reasons for red rage

By Richard Mahapatra

An expert group of the Planning Commission establishes a strong correlation between social unrest and the spread of Naxalism and poverty, landlessness and inequitable management of natural resources

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Green or greenwashing?

At one stage, Bajaj Auto was using captive wind power to generate 90% of its electricity from its own turbines and "banking" the rest. There are indeed businesses that are going green, but the majority of these claims are still greenwash, says Darryl D'Monte

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Knowledge documentation: Kiss of death, or new lease of life?

The Indian government is planning a major initiative to document all traditional knowledge on biodiversity and natural resources in order to safeguard against biopiracy. Notwithstanding its many potential benefits, without inbuilt safeguards this move could prove to be the undoing of traditional knowledge, says Ashish Kothari

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Green capitalism

By Darryl D'Monte

Can the collateral damage of a growth-at-all-costs economic model be addressed by a "regenerative" economy as opposed to a "degenerative" one based on fossil fuels and outmoded notions of industrialisation?Veteran social activist K R Datye believes it can

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Nature has rights too

By Vikram Soni and Sanjay Parikh

The fundamental human rights on which human survival depends are nature's rights, and it is time we safeguarded them

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We are what we eat

By Darryl D'Monte

There are three ideal attributes of food, according to Carlo Petrini of the Slow Food movement: It should appeal to the senses; it should be clean and environment-friendly; and most of all these days, it should be fair

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Genuine progress, or so much 'Balihoo'?

By Darryl D'Monte

The best that can be said about the recently concluded Bali climate change conference is that negotiations didn't break down altogether. Although India is being unnecessarily self-congratulatory about the correctness of its stand at the UN conference, it should adopt a much more proactive position on energy consumption at home

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Losing native breeds

By Devinder Sharma

For a country that prides itself on being the third largest biodiversity region in the world, the complete lack of respect for traditional animal breeds is unpardonable. We've lost half of the 27 breeds that once existed. Forty years after we began importing livestock, we are realising the folly of it

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The great green rush

By Darryl D'Monte

Everyone -- including venture capitalists -- seems to be jumping onto the global biofuels bandwagon. But the ethanol needed to fill an SUV just once requires 200 kg of corn, which could feed a person for a whole year

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Can man and beast co-exist?

By Darryl D'Monte

Ranthambhore has becomes the latest wildlife sanctuary to express fears about 'missing' tigers. Will this jewel in the Project Tiger crown go the same way as Sariska? Does the answer lie in relocating villages outside national parks, thereby minimising contact between man and animal?

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There's wealth in waste

By Darryl D'Monte

Five companies are bidding to manage the 7,000 tonnes of waste New Delhi generates every day. But surely it's more important to reduce garbage generated at source than to apply lucrative but environmentally unsound technological solutions to waste management?

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Absence of sanitation points to massive deprivation

Sanitation remains one of the most neglected issues both in the national policies of many countries and by the global community. Failure to increase the number of people with access to clean water and basic sanitation endangers progress towards other important development targets

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Killing ourselves slowly

By Darryl D'Monte

With growing calls for the reintroduction of DDT to fight the resurgence of malaria worldwide, we must not forget the reasons why many countries have banned this toxic substance and other dangerous chemicals that cause cancers and other persistent diseases that impair health and possibly prove fatal

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The powerful get water, the powerless don't: UNDP report

By Himanshu Thakkar

The UNDP's annual Human Development Report for 2006 focuses on water and advocates small-scale solutions and efficiency improvements to tackle the global water crisis

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Displacement in the time of development

By Manshi Asher and Rifat Mumtaz

At a time when hundreds of proposed Special Economic Zones are likely to displace millions more, the ministry of rural development has come up with a toothless draft National Rehabilitation Policy 2006 which only carries forward the weaknesses of earlier drafts

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The new environment clearance shopping mall

By Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli

The new notification for environment impact assessments displays the environment ministry's enthusiasm to compromise with industry, not regulate it

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National Environment Policy 2006: Economics over environment

By Divya Badami and Kanchi Kohli

The final version of the National Environment Policy 2006 continues to put the interests of the economy before those of the environment. What then has the process of 'public participation', in the course of which grassroots organisations pointed out the contradictions and weaknesses of the policy, achieved?

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Sardar Sarovar: Don't forget the environment

By Ashish Kothari

In the current debate over the rehabilitation of those displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project, the fundamental question about the environmental impact of the dam, and whether such a dam should be built at all, has been forgotten, says Ashish Kothari

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Big dams and nuclear energy make a backdoor entry

By Richard Mahapatra

Piggybacking on the goal of reducing carbon emissions, multilateral banks are aggressively re-orienting their lending priorities. On April 23, the World Bank will discuss a confidential report that advocates big hydro projects and nuclear energy to mitigate the effects of climate change in transition countries like India and China

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Saving the tiger, the Indian way

By Darryl D'Monte

If relocating the 66,000 families that live in India's 28 protected areas is not feasible, the solution, according to tiger task force chairperson Sunita Narain, is to include the tribals in the protection of this endangered species, giving them a share in the profits from the tourist trade in the sanctuaries

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How big business gets away with environmental violations

By Nityanand Jayaraman

A Supreme Court committee has found that Vedanta falsified information to obtain environmental clearances and began construction on its aluminium refinery in Orissa without the necessary clearances under the Forest Conservation Act. Why doesn't the law apply equally to the rich and powerful, asks Nityanand Jayaraman

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National Environment Appellate Authority: Puppet of the MoEF?

By Manju Menon

The National Environment Appellate Authority was set up as an independent body to address cases in which environmental clearances granted by the ministry of environment are challenged by civil society. But is the authority really independent of the ministry?

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Katrina or Cassandra?

By Darryl D'Monte

Last year, weather-related losses crossed $100 billion for the first time, and 30 million ecological refugees were displaced by drought, flood or other environment-related causes. Whether it's New Orleans or Mumbai, the lessons are virtually identical, as climate change intensifies across the globe

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What lies beneath: The politics of climate change negotiations

By Aditi Sen

Can a market-based solution work to combat climate change? Should emission rights be allocated by GDP or per-capita?

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When it rains, it pours: Why we should be concerned about climate change

By Aditi Sen

The increasing occurrence of extreme weather conditions, such as the recent deluge in Mumbai, points to a dangerous threat - climate change. This is the first of a series of articles on human-induced climate change

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Secret pact on climate change

By Darryl D'Monte

The United States recently unveiled the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, a regional pact that seeks the support of the world's most populous countries to bypass the Kyoto Protocol, take a "business-as-usual" approach and solve the global warming crisis through technology rather than global law

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The Economist vs the Green Mantra

By Darryl D'Monte

Market forces could prove the environment's best friend -- if only greens could learn to love them, says The Economist in a recent cover story. Rubbish, says Darryl D'Monte. Economics and ecology have always been uneasy bedfellows

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Indian solutions for Indian waste

By Darryl D'Monte

India generates mind-boggling quantities of waste: 320 million tonnes of agricultural waste and 4.4 million tonnes of hazardous waste every year. But Indian garbage, which consists of around 85% organic matter, is not suited to the burn technologies that we are importing from the West to manage our solid waste. What are the alternatives?

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'Dirty' gold: The unseen yellow peril

By Darryl D'Monte

The gold industry consumes a tenth of the world's energy, spews out 30-50% of the globe's toxic emissions and imperils 40% of the frontier forests A single gold ring generates a staggering 20 tonnes of waste

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Economics vs ecology: Progress within limits

By Darryl D'Monte

A recent meeting in Tuscany, Italy, explored the stormy relationship between economics and ecology and questioned the concept of growth without limits

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Selling out to development

By Manju Menon

While attempting to simplify the environmental clearance process, the ministry of environment is watering down the few norms that question the long-term environmental, social and economic viability of development projects

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Understanding and experiencing ecology

By Fritjof Capra

In the coming decades the survival of humanity will depend on our ability to understand the basic principles of ecology and to live accordingly, writes Fritjof Capra. Teaching this ecological knowledge, which is also ancient wisdom, will be the most important role of education in the 21st century

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Pitting communities against conservation

By Pankaj Sekhsaria

The inclusion of two new categories of protected areas in the Wildlife Protection Act, in 2002, raised hopes that more areas would be drawn into the protected areas network, with the full participation of local communities. But concerns are being raised that the new categories could actually undermine community initiatives, creating serious conflicts on the ground

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Resettlement and rehabilitation: Moving from an inadequate policy to a bad one'

By Manju Menon

The new National Policy on Resettlement and Rehabilitation for Projected Affected Families is a regression from the earlier draft. While the earlier one believed in 'total rehabilitation', the new policy does not even give a timeframe for rehabilitation! Conservative estimates put the number of families displaced by development projects at over 20 million up to 1991

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Why Mumbai is choking

By Darryl D'Monte

Every progressive city has shown that improving public transport is the best way to clean up the air. Mumbai, on the other hand, is geared towards providing 55 flyovers, sea links and coastal highways to the 9% of the population that uses private vehicles. Surely these are examples of topsy-turvy priorities, says Darryl D'Monte

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Environment: will the new government be any more responsible?

By Ashish Kothari

What does the new government need to do to tackle environmental degradation head-on? Ashish Kothari an environmental manifesto

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Business interests supercede environmental interests

By Pankaj Sekhsaria

The government pays only lip service to the concept of sustainable economic development. But serious doubts are being raised about the independence and freedom of the new National Board for Wildlife

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Inspiration from Burning Man

Rajni Bakshi

Take a break from your worries about the Indian economy and spare a moment for those who are worrying about civilisation itself, as at the Burning Man Festival

decommodify

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Barla’s battle of Nagri

By Moushumi Basu

Fiery tribal rights activist Dayamani Barla has been jailed in Jharkhand for leading another adivasi protest, this time against the acquisition of their agricultural lands for an IIIT and other institutions

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Climate change is a depressing reality in Assam

By Aditya Malaviya

The floods in Assam this year are only the most recent manifestation of the impact of climate change in the Northeast. Assam's people are struggling to cope with the impact of climate extremes on their livelihoods. A special report

Families seek refuge on raised embankments, Morigaon

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Token ombudsman?

By Kanchi Kohli

A fisherpeople's union in Mundra, Gujarat, which has been battling thermal power plants in their vicinity, has attempted to engage with the ombudsman and monitoring process of multilateral funding agencies. The exercise has revealed the flaws in this internal recourse mechanism

Thermal power plants Adani group Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd

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What does it take to save India’s tigers?

The Supreme Court order to ban tourism in core tiger reserves, and decisions to shoot poachers at sight find favour with some conservationists, the middle class and media. But what will their impact be on the people who live in and around the tiger reserves, asks Tarsh Thekaekara

Tiger conservation Tiger tourisms

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Kerala government nixes Gadgil report

By N P Chekkutty

The Kerala government has rejected the Madhav Gadgil Committee report on the preservation of the unique ecosystem of the Western Ghats, recently accorded World Heritage status. Kerala also continues to back the Athirappally hydro-electric project which the Committee has nixed

Western Ghats  World Heritage

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JAL thermal plant: The dust refuses to settle

By Manshi Asher

A landmark High Court verdict has ordered JAL’s illegally cleared thermal power plant in Himachal closed and levied damages of Rs 100 crore. But the local petitioners vow to continue the fight against the company’s polluting cement plant which has got away

JAL thermal power project

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National Green Tribunal stalls POSCO

POSCO and/or the government can appeal the Green Tribunal’s decision in the Supreme Court, but no work can begin till the review process is completed

POSCO project

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Mountains of marble waste

By Bhomik Shah and Aakash Mehrotra

More than 1,500 marble mines are operating in the Aravallis in Rajasthan, destroying the hills and ecology, depleting groundwater and leaving mountains of waste and slurry on pasturelands and riverbanks

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Resistance to dam project grows in south Gujarat

By Priyanka Borpujari

People from 16 villages on the Gujarat-Maharashtra border have been demonstrating their resistance to the Par-Tapi-Narmada river interlinking project, another multi-dam project which is slated to submerge 3,572 hectares of forests and displace 25,000 people

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Raising the dust on illegal mining in Goa

By Joseph Zuzarte

Only nine of the 90 active mining leases in Goa appear to be valid, preliminary investigations by the Justice MB Shah Commission reveal. The rest have been exploiting a legal loophole to extract upto 54 million metric tonnes of iron ore per year. Joseph Zuzarte reports on the dust that is, finally, being raised in the state about illegal mining

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To integrate or not: What do the Jarawa think?

By Jananie Kalyanaraman

The courts have upheld the isolation of the Jarawa tribals in the Andamans, but the local administration is encouraging their ‘integration’. Has anyone, as the NAC recommends, asked this indigenous group what they want, wonders this reporter as she travels the Andaman Trunk Road

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How much is a 50-year-old tree worth?

By Vasanthi Hariprakash

Will ascribing an economic value to natural capital such as forests help us conserve them? The TEEB study, commissioned by the UNEP, believes it will

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Maa Bonbibi in the land of tigers

By Kalpita Dutta

Maa Bonbibi, the multicultural goddess who is said to protect the woodcutters, honey collectors and fishermen of the Sunderbans from the attacks by tigers, is being invoked by conservation authorities in the Sunderbans over the last 10 years. Not a single tiger has reportedly been killed for straying into villages in a decade

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Peddling POSCO

On June 10, a barricade of women and children prevented Orissa state forces from entering Govindpur and Dhinkia to begin land acquisition for the POSCO steel project. Elsewhere, the acquisition is going ahead, and all dissent is being silenced. Javed Iqbal reports from the ground

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Do cooperative forests have a future?

By Sudhirendar Sharma

Over the last 13 years, 143 primary farm forestry cooperatives have regenerated 27,000 hectares of wasteland in 13 districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The MoEF under the Green India Mission intends to increase India’s forest cover by 5 million hectares, but forest cooperatives don’t even get a mention

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Waste to energy project not so green

By Ranjit Devraj

How did Jindal’s waste-to-energy (WtE) project come up in the heart of Delhi without any public consultation or clearance from the pollution control board? And will it be another illegality that the MoEF will regularise?

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Chilika's fishermen set to battle prawn mafia themselves

By Kalpita Dutta

Despite a court order in February directing demolition of the prawn gheris that have trapped roughly 40% of the waters in Chilika Lake, no action has been taken. Now the Chilika Matsayjibi Mahasangh has vowed to demolish the prawn enclosures itself and take the state to court for ignoring judicial directives

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Vedanta and Posco: A tale of two projects

Why was the POSCO project treated so differently from Vedanta? One was given clearance, with conditions, while the other was rejected, despite the fact that both were found to be in violation of the Forest Rights Act and other laws. Is it realpolitik that guides these decisions, asks Pradeep Baisakh

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Haathi Mere Saathi

By Kalpita Dutta

The ongoing Rengali left bank canal irrigation project on the Brahmani river, in Orissa, is seriously disrupting traditional elephant migration routes, leading to an escalation in man-elephant conflicts

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No respite for Jharkhand's beleaguered tribals

By Kalpita Dutta

Just last year the tribals of Khunti and Gumla blocks in Jharkhand ousted steel giant Arcelor Mittal from the region. Now there’s another flashpoint around the Rs 65 crore Kantijalashay dam planned by the state government on the Chata River. The rivers, streams and fountains are all ours, they say. Why should we accept water from a dam?

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The end of Keoladeo's avian glory?

By Kalpita Dutta

A serious water crisis at Keoladeo National Park, exacerbated by caste politics and strife, has put its World Heritage Site status at risk. Barely 10% of the migratory birds that used to flock to Bharatpur are to be seen today. How feasible are the solutions proposed?

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If not GDP, what?

GDP as a measure of progress is being shown the door. But what should take its place? Shruti Sharma reports on the Happy Planet Index and other proposals, but argues that retaining GDP but including within it additional natural capital flows might still be the best way to protect the environment

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How government agencies fast-tracked Lavasa

By Rifat Mumtaz

Lavasa, the picturesque planned hill station being developed by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) near Pune, is facing charges of illegal land acquisition and environmental violations and construction has been stayed pending an inquiry. This article says that the focus should be not on the misdemeanours of the corporation but on the collusions and oversights of government

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Ladenge, Jeetenge! Narmada Bachao Andolan at 25

The Narmada Bachao Andolan movement is 25 years old. What started as a struggle in the Narmada valley has spread to every corner of the country and changed the definition of development, reports Kathyayini Chamaraj from the commemorative events that began on October 22 at Dhadgaon and concluded in Badwani on October 26

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The hidden impacts of Solar India

The National Solar Mission envisages a solar generation capacity of 20 GW in India by 2022, and claims zero environmental impact. But serious environmental risks do exist in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal cells, and the establishment of solar manufacturing plants, says Shawahiq Siddiqui

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Niyamgiri: A temporary reprieve

The Dongria Kondh know that their battle against Vedanta and for the preservation of their sacred Niyamgiri is not over in a state where money matters, people and the environment don’t, reports Ranjan K Panda from Orissa

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Treasure hunt in the Kendujhar forests

By Subrat Kumar Sahu

Dark clouds are gathering over Kendujhar district in north Orissa, this chronicle reveals. As in other forested areas across India, adivasis are standing up to fight the takeover of their forest resources. What kind of wisdom is the forest department driven by when it undertakes large-scale commercial plantation after clear-felling natural forests that rightfully belong to them, they ask

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Chemical warfare in Jhabua

By Sachin Kumar Jain

Petlawad block in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district illustrates in microcosm the crisis of Indian agriculture. Desperate farmers are using a phenomenal 600 kg of chemical fertiliser per hectare of farmland. As yields decline and costs of inputs rise, the average village’s debt is four times its annual income

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Supporters of the forest rights law intimidated in Orissa

By Subrat Kumar Sahu

A misinformation campaign on who will benefit from the Forest Rights Act is setting adivasis against non-adivasis in Bolangir district, Orissa, while those creating awareness about villagers’ rights under the Act are being harassed by the authorities who fear they are losing their control over natural resources

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Global double standards: BP oil spill vs Bhopal gas tragedy

Indian commentators have highlighted the contrast between the US response to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in which BP has been forced to pay USD 20 billion, and the response to the Bhopal gas tragedy in which a US company paid out a paltry USD 470 million in compensation for 20,000 dead, thousands more injured, and a city poisoned

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Bhopal's Children: Generation II

By Pamela Philipose

Justice for the survivors of Bhopal has many dimensions -- and it includes the recognition that there are helpless, limb-locked, smiling children who are paying a terrible price for a disaster that had occurred long before they were born. The Chingari rehabilitation and education centre has 250 children, most with cerebral palsy, on its rolls, all born of gas-affected communities

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India has no rules governing radioactive waste

The recent radiation incident in Delhi’s Mayapuri industrial area may have goaded the authorities into action, but the dangers posed by radioactive material have mostly been ignored in India. Will the draft Electronic Waste Handling and Management Rules address this issue?

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Vidarbha: Dirty technology in the guise of development?

By Samir Nazareth

The government of Maharashtra plans to allow 43 new private and public thermal power plants in Vidarbha, a region that’s suffered years of neglect and is home to thousands of distressed, suicidal farmers. Is the government justified in sacrificing Vidarbha to the power needs of the rest of the state/country?

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The mirage of environment protection

By Samir Nazareth

Do initiatives like NDTV Greenathon, which encouraged viewers to donate solar lanterns to villages without electricity, really help the environmental cause? Do they question the inequitable distribution of resources between big industry/urban consumers and rural India?

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Pachyderm panic in Assam

By Teresa Rehman

Rampant habitat destruction has forced Assam’s elephants into close contact with humans. It is now all-out war between hungry elephants and angry tea estate workers. And still the forest department, the tea authorities and the district administration keep passing the buck

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'We must recognise a new type of crime: that which is committed against future generations'

Bianca Jagger, former wife of rockstar Mick Jagger, is a campaigner for the rights of indigenous peoples, including the Dongria-Kondh in Orissa who are protesting Vedanta’s proposed bauxite mines in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. Jagger tells Infochange about the campaign that has led the Church of England and others to withdraw their investment on ethical grounds

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Waging a green war

By Anup Sharma

Former Bodo militants have surrendered their guns but are still at war – against poachers and the timber mafia that are destroying the Subankhata Reserve Forest in Assam’s Baksha district

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