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Bookshelf: Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature, by Jairam Ramesh

Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh tells IndiaSpend about his latest book ‘Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature’, why you can’t leave the environment to market forces, the current government’s policies, the erosion of the National Green Tribunal’s autonomy, the recent commercial approval for GM mustard and the poor implementation of environmental laws in the country.

How govt policies are recklessly threatening India’s wildlife reserves

From Scroll.in: While the UPA government had been steadily weakening safeguards for India’s environment, forests and wildlife, the present NDA government is carrying forward this agenda in an even more aggressive and systematic manner. A new book by Prerna Singh Bindra details how ‘ease of doing business’ has become an excuse to ignore wildlife protection.

Layla and the owl’s eyes: Ecopsychology and being human

Will Falk writes: Just like an owl on a chain is no longer an owl, and an elephant in a zoo is no longer an elephant, humans cut off from the nature are no longer human. We are animals and animals are an ongoing process of relationships. When those relationships become impossible, we lose ourselves.

Nivedita Khandekar: Why floods in Assam and Bihar are worsening over time

From Daily O: Two important things stand out: lack of information at the grassroots level and the attitude of policymakers, and to some extent people too, towards dealing with floods. Assam’s information network has improved, but population explosion forces people to risk lives for a few weeks of floods by living at the river bank.

Study: The world is facing a ‘biological annihilation’ of species, researchers warn

From The Independent: Scientists warn in a new study that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that’s “more severe than perceived.” Not only that, human activity —including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change— is to blame for this massive loss in biodiversity, according to the analysis.

Fight back: An ecopsychological understanding of depression

Will Falk writes: I’m an environmental activist. I have depression. To be an activist with depression places me squarely in an irreconcilable dilemma: The destruction of the natural world creates stress which exacerbates depression. However, acting to stop the destruction of the natural world exposes me to a lot of stress which, again, exacerbates depression.

Mining in Gadchiroli – building a castle of injustices

From Countercurrents.org: This article is about the struggle to save the rich, dense and old growth forests in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra by the Madia Gond adivasis residing in these forests. Communities like theirs don’t celebrate World Environment Day, but it is in their struggles that the ecological and cultural wellbeing of our country currently rests.

Independence of the National Green Tribunal under threat

News Click reports: The Ministry of Environment plans to amend the National Green Tribunal Act, which was passed during the UPA regime as part of India’s commitment under the Rio Declaration. The move will result in a dilution of the powers of the body, widely regarded as the most effective environmental court in the world.

Tribute: Bill Kayong, Malaysian activist who fought to protect native forests

From Yale Environment 360: On this day last year, Bill Kayong, an up-and-coming political activist in Miri, a coastal oil town in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, was shot dead. At the time, Kayong was leading a campaign to protect native forest lands and stop incursions on traditional lands by logging and palm oil companies.

World Environment Day is now little more than a greenwashing opportunity

Nitin Sethi writes: Whatever a government might do to run the economic engine of the country or its politics, it has to continuously claim that it is a win-win for both the environment and development. It will talk about its moves to set up zero-effect and zero-defect industries. We all know such an idea does not exist.

Why the fight for environmental justice is also a fight for social justice

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: June 5 was World Environment Day. Over the last few days, this author, an environmental activist, has been asked by many people to lay out things that people can do without really straining their daily schedules. These simple things may not exist anymore. Instead, here are six things for everyone to consider.

How the disastrous Ken-Betwa link project endangers India’s tigers, rivers and mountains

Ken-Betwa river-linking project, if realised, will destroy livelihoods and ecology, including a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Curiously enough, ground reports show that farmers in the project area are themselves not keen on it. Also included is a documentary, ‘Links of a Broken Chain’, as well as a detailed technical analysis of the project.

The Bishnois, India’s original environmentalists, who inspired the Chipko movement

The Bishnois may be considered as India’s first environmentalists. The famous ‘Chipko Movement’ was inspired by the true story of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who refused to let the king’s men cut trees in her village. Her head was severed. More than 300 people who did the same were killed for trying to protect the trees.

Vanishing Borneo: Saving one of the world’s last great places

From Yale Environment 360: Borneo is ground zero for oil palm devastation. The most ancient and species-rich forest on earth, it has also had highest deforestation rate on the planet, and in recorded history. Consumers of the countless products made with palm oil, from toothpaste to chocolate bars, now hold the key to protecting it.

A rare, pristine estuary comes under threat in Karnataka

TheWire.in reports: The Aghanashini is one of the last free flowing rivers in Karnataka: it has no major industrial establishments, dams or townships on its banks. It is in this rich and highly productive estuary that the state government plans to build a multi-purpose estuarine port, which’s now one last step away from final clearance.

Not so cute: World Wildlife Fund declared ‘greenwasher of the year’

‘Greenwashing’ has been defined as creating “a false or misleading picture of environmental friendliness used to conceal or obscure damaging activities.” Not something you would normally associate with the WWF, whose cute Panda logo has helped make it the face of wildlife conservation globally. But there’s more to the story, as this new report shows.

The illegal and ignominious world of wildlife trafficking

A recent raid at the Meerut house of a retired Colonel and his national-level shooter son unearthed a shockingly large cache of animal skins, parts and meat, apart from over 100 illegally imported firearms. This feature by Down to Earth analyses the magnitude and international nature of the flourishing illegal trade of Indian wildlife species.

The precarious situation of India’s water problem

Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?

Historic verdict in Indonesia’s fight against deforestation

From Friends of the Earth: The 2015 Indonesian forest fires, started by farmers and palm-oil companies to clear land for plantation, lasted for months and caused massive air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, at one point releasing more carbon dioxide than the entire U.S. economy, and causing an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region.

Exposed: The Indian govt’s plan to get environmental violators off the hook

The Wire reports: India’s environment ministry issued a notification that’s a remarkable show of partisan support to projects that have been illegally operating without environmental approvals. The document lays out a process by which illegal industrial units, mines, ports or hydro projects can be granted clearance and “brought into compliance” within the next six months.

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