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Watch: Will Bhangar be Mamata Banerjee’s Nandigram?

From People’s Media: In January 2017, two people were killed when the police fired on villagers in Bhangar, in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. They were protesting the forcible acquisition of their fertile agricultural land for a proposed powerg-rid substation. Read reports and watch a short film made on location, as the events unfolded.

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.

How Bidar beat back the drought

From The Hindu: Bidar’s Naubad karez, or tunnel wells, are an ancient engineering marvel. It’s a complex system, which works inversely underground to leverage gravity — that is, the plateau’s natural gradient ascends from the mouth to the mother well but the tunnel underneath has been cut to descend from the mother well to the mouth.

How a statist vision of development has brought Andaman’s tribals close to extinction

Excerpt from Islands in Flux, by Pankaj Sekhsaria: These communities of thousands of individuals with a living lineage going back thousands of years have been brought to this sorry state in a mere 150 years. It began with the British and their policies, which have been kept up with clinical efficiency by modern, independent India.

What does it mean for a river to have rights?

From The Hindu: The rights do not stem from an intrinsic identity or status of the river, but more from their use for humans; and giving them ‘personhood’ or legal status makes it very human-centred. Can rivers not be recognised as having identity, worth, dignity, and rights as intrinsic qualities, not because they serve us?

How growing a forest transformed a Jharkhand village

From VillageSquare.in: The residents of Hesatu village have successfully raised a thriving forest without any intervention from the state or civil society organisations. They have demonstrated how to create a sustainable economy from ecology by raising a forest of over 100,000 trees on what used to be 365 acres of wasteland barely six years ago.

Spotlight: Activists fighting to protect nature and livelihoods in India’s scheduled areas

Counterview reports: At a time when indigenous communities are losing access to land, and other natural resources, these activists have been relentlessly fighting for social justice, mostly in schedule five areas and other tribal belts. Here are profiles of some of these inspiring grassroots heroes, who were recently felicitated at an event held in Delhi.

A first: Indian court declares Ganga, Yamuna as living legal entities

Live Mint reports: The Uttarakhand high court has recognized the Ganga and the Yamuna as so-called living entities, giving the rivers that have seen years of damage, a legal voice. Animals, for instance, aren’t considered living entities by law. It’s the first time a court has recognized a non-human as a living entity in India.

Learning from the past: A new protocol for agricultural education and research in India

We scientists, each one of us, should ask ourselves what the agricultural establishment needs to do in order effectively to address our current agricultural crisis. Given our present mechanistic scientific paradigm, we are part of the problem, and thus cannot, be part of its solution. Our first task, therefore, is to change our outlook fundamentally.

When money does grow on trees

The services provided by Nature mostly bypasses markets, escapes pricing and defies valuation. Consider this. A 50-year-old tree provides services like oxygen, water recycling, soil conservation and pollution control worth Rs 23 lakh. Cutting and selling it fetches only Rs 50,000. Yet due to ignorance olf its ecological services, felling a tree seems more profitable.

How to steal a river: New York Times on India’s rampant sand mining

The hundreds of millions of Indians migrating from villages to cities require up to a billion square yards of new real estate development annually. Current construction already draws more than 800 million tons of sand every year, mostly from India’s waterways. All the people I spoke to assumed that much of it is taken illegally.

‘Ganga, Yamuna are drains, no party cares’

The Third Pole reports: Over 140 million people are eligible to vote as Uttar Pradesh —the land of the Ganga and the Yamuna— goes to polls. Everybody agrees that the poison affects drinking water and irrigation. Still, the apathy is mirrored in town after town in eastern UP. Candidates rarely address it in their campaigns.

Environ-Mental? The bizarre ‘green’ ideas of our netas

India Water Portal reports: The year 2016 was an abysmal year in terms of environmental policy and conservation in India. There were also many initiatives worth talking about. Any initiative, however, is only as good as those managing it. Here we talk about four people in the country who made news for their water-related actions.

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.

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.”

Himanshu Thakkar on India’s river battles

The Modi government had come with the promise of a better future for India’s rivers. Unfortunately, the promise remains unfulfilled, and there seems to be no roadmap in sight for our rivers. There’s nothing in the policies, plans or projects of the current government that would provide any ray of hope, now or in future.

Can we assess the value of ecosystems in monetary terms?

Gana Kedlaya writes: “With India trying to accelerate economic growth and relax forest laws, there is immense pressure to divert forests to non-forests uses. There is a pressing need to undertake an economic valuation of ecosystem services, especially intangible benefits, provided by Indian forests.” professor K.N. Ninan, author of a study on valuing ecosystem services.

Creating “urban-rural bioregions” in India: a self-sustaining regional planning alternative

Didier Prost writes: Development impacts on the climate, the way fertile land is used and  on ecosystems are catastrophic for the environment. A “return to (the notion of) land as a common good” requires us to raise “awareness or consciousness of place” in order to rebuild relationships of co-evolution between human settlements and the environment.

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