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The Bishnois, India’s original environmentalists, who inspired the Chipko movement

The Bishnois may be considered as India’s first environmentalists. The famous ‘Chipko Movement’ was inspired by the true story of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who refused to let the king’s men cut trees in her village. Her head was severed. More than 300 people who did the same were killed for trying to protect the trees.

Bookshelf: Scarcity – Humanity’s Last Chapter?

Richard Reese writes: In ‘Scarcity: Humanity’s Final Chapter?’ Christopher O. Clugston analyses the 89 key non-renewable resources that are essential to the existence of our industrial global society, and finds that 63 of them have peaked globally. His conclusion is that the only possible outcome for a society that is dependent on these resources, is

Prafulla Samantara, a “Maoist” for Vedanta and Odisha, earns global recognition

From The Citizen: For his leading role in the historic 12-year legal battle that led to the protection of the indigenous Dongria Kondh tribe’s land rights against the mining giant Vedanta in Niyamgiri, Odisha, social activist Prafulla Samantara was chosen one of the six winners of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize, or the ‘Green Nobel’.

10 rousing struggles for public water

From TNI.org: While water privatisation continues to be imposed throughout the world, particularly in the Global South, more and more communities are demanding public management of water (also labelled remunicipalisation)  and wastewater services and forcing out private actors. Here are 10 inspiring stories of communities and cities working to reclaim control over this essential resource.

Vaishali Patil: Exposing Adani’s environmental and labour abuses

I’ve come face to face with some of the world’s worst companies, but at the top of that list is mining giant Adani, which wants to develop one of the world’s largest coalmines in Australia, supposedly to meet demand from India. But the communities I work with patently do not want Adani or its coal.

The precarious situation of India’s water problem

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?

Goenchi Mati: A call for environmental custodianship and inter-generational equity in mining

Rahul Basu writes: Goa Foundation, one of the country’s best-known environmental groups, has proposed a whole new approach to mining that’s designed to tackle the colossal damage caused by rampant corruption and human greed. It can be applied globally to natural resources and commons generally, but starting with minerals as their economic values are clearer.

El Salvador makes history as first nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining

The Guardian reports: El Salvador has made history after becoming the first country in the world to ban metal mining. Cristina Starr, from Radio Victoria, said: “Today water won over gold. This historic victory is down to the clarity and determination of the Salvadoran people fighting for life over the economic interests of a few.”

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.

Climate change key suspect in the case of India’s vanishing groundwater

Mongabay reports: Since the Green Revolution, Indian farmers have depended on groundwater to grow enough crops to feed the country’s 1.3 billion people, but groundwater is vanishing in many parts of the country. This combination of overpumping and climate change– resulting in weaker monsoons– is partly what’s driving social disruption, including violent protests and suicides.

As Posco exits steel project, Odisha is left with thousands of felled trees and lost livelihoods

Scroll reports: Twelve years and several twists and turns later, the South Korean steel major has officially withdrawn from the project. With this development, the net result of the Odisha government’s most ambitious industrialisation dream is lakhs of felled trees, thousands of promised jobs that never materialised, and frustrated villagers staring at an uncertain future.

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.

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