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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.

Pumped dry: India’s accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis

From Policy Forum: India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than anything previous generations ever faced. All water bodies near population centres are now grossly polluted. Interstate disputes over river water allocations are becoming increasingly intense. Surface water conditions in the country are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.

Why our approach to World Forests Day is a threat to forests

Souparna Lahiri writes: How will forests provide for such high energy demands being put on them, especially in the name of renewables? In the Global South, there’s a rise in monoculture tree plantations for biofuels, or wood. Biofuel plantations have already caused the clearing of rainforests and threatened animals and humans that depend on them.

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.

Indian govt is wary of foreign NGOs, but not corporations?

Ritwick Dutta writes: India’s Environment minister recently urged his colleagues to be wary of foreign-funded NGOs. Ironically, his own party, the ruling BJP, was held guilty by the Delhi High Court for accepting funds from Vedanta, a UK-based company accused of gross environmental and human rights violations. Other violators include Lafarge, POSCO and Coca Cola.

The biggest refugee crisis since WWII is a sign of a planet in trouble

David Korten writes that if don’t make a collective choice to heal the planet and build a fundamentally more equitable society, we’ll see intensifying competition for shrinking resources and habitable spaces. Activist Mary Robinson explains why climate change Is a threat to human rights and asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

Can India Inc. face the truth about the Manesar violence?

Yesterday, a local court convicted 31, and acquitted 117 of the 148 workers charged with the murder of an HR manager at Maruti-Suzuki’s Manesar plant five years ago. The verdict once again puts the spotlight on the extreme exploitation and structural violence that characterise Indian industry, described by G. Sampath in this unforgettable 2012 article.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Which species are we sure we can survive without?

Kurt Cobb wrtites: According to scientists, we are amidst the Sixth Great Extinction, caused by human activity. If you consider that the broader world with which we interact has millions of species of which we’re not aware of, we could easily cause an organism essential to our survival to go extinct without even realizing it.

Darryl D’Monte: Does India’s refusal to tackle air pollution amount to genocide?

There were 1.1 million premature deaths in India due to long-term exposure to pollutants. While China registered slightly higher figures, it has now acted against this hazard—the situation in India, in contrast, is getting worse. The highest number of premature deaths globally due to ozone is also in India. Might all this qualify as genocide?

‘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.

Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos

In Kaziranga national park, rangers shoot people to protect rhinos. The park features in a new BBC investigation, which highlights some of the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks.

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.

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.

Why the 2017 Union Budget is deceptively ‘pro-farmer’

Kirankumar Vissa writes; Everyone in the media has been talking about the slew of pro-farmer measures included in Budget 2017, how it is a Budget for the ‘have nots’ and one that will give a big fillip to agriculture. It is time to call this Budget what it is–a big prank on India’s farming community.

The draft national electricity plan paints rosy picture of power scenario

Every five years, the Central Electricity Authority prepares a National Electricity Plan. Last December, the CEA released draft of third NEP for 2017-2022 seeking comments from various stakeholders. Some of its conclusions, like ‘close to zero energy demand deficit’, may sound like music to power starved India but also raises serious questions about its authenticity.

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