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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.

George Schaller: ‘India has far too casually allowed development in nature reserves’

Dr George Schaller, considered one of the finest field biologists in the world, and has a close connection to India. His work with tigers in Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha National Park, revolutionised wildlife research in India. He tells Scroll.in how Indian conservation has changed, why scientists need to engage with governments and what keeps him going.

Court issues ruling in world’s first “Rights of Nature” lawsuit

Intercontinentalcry.org reports: On January 11, 2017 Ecuador’s Esmeraldas Provincial Court handed down its decision on the world’s first constitutionally-based Rights of Nature lawsuit. Amazingly, this historic demand for justice—which simultaneously begs for a shift in merely human rights-based paradigms—was made by people who literally and figuratively live in Ecuador’s margins: The Canton of San Lorenzo.

Tribute: Berta Cáceres, an outspoken voice for nature that was silenced

This day a year ago, Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home. She and her associates had faced death threats for standing up to mining and dam projects that threatened to destroy their community. A tribute to her fighting spirit on her first death anniversary.

City of burning lakes: experts fear Bangalore will be uninhabitable by 2025

Deepa Bhasthi writes in The Guardian: The illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage in Bangalore is creating a water crisis which threatens residents’ health–and is causing the city’s famous lakes to catch fire. This is the new story of the city, which some scientists believe will be “unliveable” in a few years.

William H. Kotke: Civilization falls; a new culture emerges

We must invent a whole new human culture. The human species cannot exist in perpetuity on the earth unless it lives in biological balance with the life around it. Running a net deficit drawdown of the earth’s fertility will not work. Is it not strange that children can understand this statement but world leaders cannot?

Is Costa Rica the world’s happiest, greenest country?

Ariana López Peña writes: Costa Rica was the most environmentally advanced and happiest place on earth last year, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Vanuatu, according to the Happy Planet Index, which measures life expectancy, well-being, environmental footprint and inequality to calculate nations’ success– all areas where Costa Rica’s government has made significant effort and investment.

Wellbeing and sustainability: irreconcilable differences?

Modernity’s dominant narrative of material progress– which represents an industrial model of development–gives priority to economic growth and a rising standard of living. It is being increasingly challenged by the alternative narrative of sustainability, which seeks to balance social, environmental and economic priorities and goals to achieve a high, equitable and lasting quality of life.

The Enlivenment Manifesto: Politics and Poetics in the Anthropocene

Enlightenment thinking is coming to an end… But our civilization still operates as if reality is about organising inert, dead matter in efficient ways. It is impossible to achieve sustainability with our prevailing ‘operating system’ for economics, politics, and culture if the underlying ‘bios’—our unconscious assumption about reality—remains tied to an ideology of dead matter.

The mismeasure of progress: Is the West really the best?

Western liberal democracies dominate the top rankings of progress indices. But are they the best models of development when their standard of living is unsustainable and their quality of life is, arguably, declining? Only when environmental impacts are given significant weight, as in the Happy Planet and Sustainable Society indexes, does this ranking change substantially.

Why the Forest Rights Act is yet to achieve major milestones

G. Seetharaman reports: Activists say one of the biggest hurdles for FRA is that even states like Maharashtra, among the better performers, and Odisha are introducing policies which will help the forest department retain control of forest resources through joint forest management committees or similar bodies, which will dilute the powers of the gram sabha.

Sounds of silence: a forest that survived ‘development’

Jemima Rohekar writes: So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. It is also the site of the first and most bitterly fought ‘environment vs development’ debate in India. Silent Valley reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth.

Tribute: T. Hanumantha Rao, champion of water management alternatives

T. Hanumantha Rao, irrigation engineering expert and the brain behind a participative method of water management based on his ‘Four Waters’ concept, passed away on Sunday. The Four Waters concept, explained in this video, brought rich benefits to Rajasthan, where even drought-affected areas improved over the years. Several other states are actively pursuing his recommendations.

Adani Power Vs The People Of Jharkhand

Amit Bhardwaj reports: The Jharkhand Government wants thousands of farmers to give up their multi-crop fertile lands for the Adani power plant. The plant will sell its entire electricity produce to Bangladesh. “They’ve used 1932  land records to show that a majority of the land here is not being used for agriculture,” said Vidya Devi.

Vandana Shiva: Beware of digital dictatorship

The digital economy is a design for atomisation, for separation… Imposing the digital economy through a “cash ban” is a form of technological dictatorship, in the hands of the world’s billionaires. Economic diversity and technological pluralism are India’s strength and it is the “hard cash” that insulated India from the global market’s crash of 2008.

This gated community in Bangalore epitomises urban India’s class divide

Rahul Chandran writes: A resident, who did not wish to be identified, talks about certain benches where the maids and drivers were not allowed to sit. “We had one more rule earlier— now its scrapped— the maids are not supposed to travel in the passenger lift, they were supposed to travel in the service lift.”

The Jharkhand Model of Development: Resources for investors, bullets for villagers

When seven deaths have not stirred the government’s conscience, Rai is convinced that the resistance is futile. “The worst pain in the world is the pain of being displaced,” said Rai. “But the fact is neither political protests nor public demand can stop displacement. We’ll have to leave this village, our fields and our history.”

Special: Ten years of the Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act of 2006 was widely hailed as a landmark legislation, one that sought to empower some of India’s most disenfranchised communities– the Adivasis. Ten years later, only 3 percent of forest dwellers have their rights recognised, and the Act itself is increasingly being undermined by the present government. Here’s a closer look.

Power plants are making thousands go blind in Chhattisgarh

Catch News reports: Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa region, once famous for paddy cultivation, is now emerging as the state’s power hub with several power plants coming up in the area during the recent years. While fuelling the state’s economic growth, dust and ash emitted from these power plants are turning thousands of local people blind from cataract.

What has neoliberal capitalism ever done for India?

Colin Todhunter writes: Data from the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index indicates that 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries, but now it has the second worst position. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.

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