From Sanhati: A history of the 240 year-old Raniganj Coalfield– the story of its workers –the many lives that have been spent in its shadows, displaced by coal and depending on it for survival –would be a tale every bit as expansive as the Mahabharata. This two-part article gives a short glimpse of this history.
Rob Hopkins writes: The Wild Network’s mission is “to support children, parents and guardians to roam free, play wild and connect with nature”. According to their ‘Chief Wild Officer’ Mark Sears, mental well-being is proven to be clearly linked to time spent outdoors in natural environments, but this is neglected by modern schooling and parenting.
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.
From Mining Review Africa: Environmental NGO Urgewald has revealed companies that are at the forefront to expand the world’s coal-fired power by 42.8%. The report identifies the 120 companies that are planning about 850 new coal plants in 62 countries–including Indian coal majors Adani, Tata, Lanco and Coal India, which are driving the biggest plants.
From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.
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.
From National Geographic: Our waters have borne the brunt of global-warming for decades, but dying corals, extreme weather, and plummeting fish stocks are signs that it can handle no more. And people are already experiencing direct consequences, such as more extreme weather events, says a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism most everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.
Prem Shankar Jha in The Wire: When nearly 350 million vehicles have to be charged every day, not only will an entire nation-wide, and therefore expensive, recharging infrastructure have to be built, but the power these vehicles will consume will have to be generated first. Nearly all of this will have to come from coal.
From The Guardian: Zambia’s Kabwe is the world’s most toxic town, according to pollution experts, where mass lead poisoning has almost certainly damaged the brains and other organs of generations of children –who continue to be poisoned every day. The lead levels in Kabwe are as much as 100 times that of recommended safety levels.
Friends of Marine Life (FML), is a Kerala-based organisation that specialises in seabed ecosystem studies and also helps promote sustainable fishing. Three of it’s members, who hail from the state’s indigenous fishing community, the Mukkuva, were recently invited the first UN conference on the world’s oceans. The text of speeches they delivered at the conference.
The Wire reports: If India builds all its proposed coal-based power plants, then it might not fulfill its promise made under the Paris climate agreement, says a new study conducted by CoalSwarm. The country is currently the fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, and its largely-coal-based energy sector contributes two-thirds of those emissions.
“You can’t get this experience of listening to these birds second hand through a screen, or through an MP3 player, or YouTube.You get a simulacra.You get something similar but not in any way the same. Because it is a shallower engagement, the result of that is a shallower wish to act on behalf of it.”
From The Indian Quarterly: Strange things happen in this forest. A bug sucks and then pees. Droplets of bright water shoot out of its bum and fall rain-like on the forest floor. I saw it today with my own eyes. Orange and black bug on a Heliconia leaf, shadow-spangled, tumbling in the gusting wind, peeing.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
Debutant director Aparnaa Singh’s Irada is said to have been inspired by real events –the pollution of groundwater by a chemical manufacturer with the blessings of a state’s ruling party. Set in Punjab, Irada advocates solutions that viewers will be hard-pressed to replicate, but its concerns are timely, character sketches memorable, and its empathy unmistakable.