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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.

Obituary: Veloor Swaminathan, who led a legendary fight against Coca Cola that’s finding new resonance

K.P. Sasi writes: Swaminathan along with Mylamma were the initial foundations of the historic struggle at Plachimada, Kerala. The struggle initiated by a small group of these Adivasis with Dalits and farmers forced one of the largest corporate powers in the world to back down and quit Plachimada. Swaminathan passed away on March 14, 2015.

Why the Coke-Pepsi boycott in Tamil Nadu is a good thing

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: Coke and Pepsi are the best-known agents of commodification of water. It’s unethical and immoral for a resource that is so vital to life to be commodified. So, every nail in the coffins of companies involved in selling water –like Coke, Pepsi, Nestle, Tata and so on– is a nail well driven.

We are addicted to convenience, and it’s fatal both for us and the planet

Ashish Kothari writes: Convenience is trashing the earth. Unlimited motorised transport, electrical and electronic gadgets, chemicals and packaging for increased shelf-life mean carbon emissions, pollution, chemical contamination, mining. Other species and other people (whose homes happen to be above the mining deposits) are just collateral damage for a society drunk on the technologies of convenience.

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.

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.”

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.

Video: Beyond the Red Lines – System Change Not Climate Change

From the lignite mines in Rhineland, to the streets of Paris, the struggles for climate justice are fought at more and more fronts. This film documents the story of a growing movement that says “Enough! Here and no further!” and commits civil disobedience taking the transition towards a climate just society into its own hands.

Ashish Kothari: The search for radical alternatives – key elements and principles

Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and worldviews and cultures, and on past or new grassroots practice? This note attempts to layout a few thoughts towards such a process.

Nandini Sundar: Militarization of the imagination

In her new book, The Burning Forest: India’s War In Bastar, anthropologist Nandini Sundar provides a harrowing narrative of the toll this ongoing conflict has taken on the lives of Bastar’s Adivasis. Sundar demonstrates how the institutions of democracy have failed to address the human tragedy in what has become one of India’s most militarized regions.

Connecting the dots between the environment, conservation and adivasi politics

Shashank Kela, author of an acclaimed study of adivasi history and politics, writes: This essay aims to make connections between things that are usually studied separately– environmental history, political economy, conservation practice and adivasi politics. The belief that this potential convergence could do with wider discussion is my sole justification for putting it up here.

Bookshelf: The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar

From Juggernaut publishing: There’s a hidden war going on in central India away from the headlines — and Bastar is at the centre of it. Sociologist Nandini Sundar, who has written about Bastar and its people for nearly three decades, has now authored a gripping account of the war between the Maoists and the State.

In Gadchiroli, the mining of another adivasi god

Javed Iqbal reports: Months have passed quietly with allegations of day-to-day violence and repression. Throughout the summer, say locals, many adivasis were caught and humiliated by the C60 – Maharashtra’s special anti-naxal force. In interviews, they detailed how they were deliberately humiliated by being beaten on the soles of their feet and on their buttocks.

CAMPA: The return of British Raj to the forests

Gladson Dungdung writes: With the CAMPA bill being passed, the forest department has regained its lost hegemonic power over Adivasis. Many past and present instances suggest that the CAMPA amounts to the return of a British Raj-like regime to the forest, aggravating resource based conflict and the enmity between the State and forest dwelling communities.

Spotlight: India’s adivasis and the web of indifference

India is home to about 700 tribal groups with a population of 104 million, as per 2011 census, constituting the second largest tribal population in the world after Africa. Down to Earth magazine examines the many grave threats they face from government, corporations and phenomena like climate change, and our continuing indifference to their plight.

What we’re doing to the environment may be costing us our drinking water

Chelsea Harvey reports: The human footprint on the environment may have affected drinking water in a major way throughout the last century, new research shows. The researchers estimated that declines in water quality —because of human activity— caused water treatment costs to rise by 50 percent in nearly a third of all large cities worldwide.

A black day for the rights of millions – Rajya Sabha passes Afforestation Bill

Campaign for Survival and Dignity release: The Rajya Sabha has passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016. This Bill essentially gives carte blanche to forest officials to spend gigantic amounts of money (over Rs. 40,000 crores) without any accountability to the people whose forests, lands and lives will be damaged or destroyed by their activities.

P. Sainath: The sacred waters of a tanker

From Ruralindiaonline.org: Rampant deforestation, extensive damming of the rivers, huge diversions of water for industrial projects and even elite resorts can be seen across the state. All these underlie Maharashtra’s terrible water crisis. They won’t get washed away by the monsoon, even if the media coverage of it dries up with onset of the rains.

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