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Poisoned earth, poisoned people: The unravelling of Punjab

From The Guardian: Cancer rates are the highest in the country, drug addiction is rife, and 900 farmers have killed themselves in two years. How did Punjab turn toxic? A new film explores the roots of its problems; ‘Toxification’ tells the moving stories of farmers at the sharp end of the chemical epidemic engulfing Punjab.

We have drought-proofed our cities, and left farms and farmers to die

Devinder Sharma writes: This year, nearly 82% of Karnataka is reeling under drought. But in Bangalore, you won’t get even a hint of the terrible human suffering that continues to be inflicted year after year. Karnataka has suffered drought for 12 out of the past 18 years. But life in Bangalore has never been affected.

The terrifying implications of India’s elections for people and the planet

Basav Sen, director, Climate Policy Project, writes: The Modi government’s far right bigotry is well known, but its equally disturbing environmental record isn’t. While indigenous peoples and other rural populations have borne the brunt of the Indian state’s environmental recklessness, urban populations aren’t faring much better. Half of the 50 most polluted cities worldwide are in India.

Pradip Krishen: In Delhi lies a forest uprooted

From The Wire: Is it too much to expect that a Forest Department respond appropriately to the character of a natural habitat in order to plant new species suitably? Why is it that some 170 years after we started training foresters, we still have a cadre that knows and cares so little about natural habitats?

Indian villages lie empty as drought forces thousands to flee

From The Guardian: With over 43% of India reeling under drought, hundreds of villages have been evacuated and homes abandoned after wells, handpumps ran dry in a 45C heatwave. Estimates suggest that in villages 250 miles from Mumbai, up to 90% of the population has fled, leaving the sick and elderly to fend for themselves.

Forest rights: The arrogance of the ignorant

From The Hindu: That those forests inhabited by Adivasis are some of the best conserved in the subcontinent is a long-standing fact contrary to the understanding of supposedly educated Indians. Sadly, the articulate arrogance of ‘New India’ prevents them from seeing any virtue in those communities who have lived in and by the forests since times immemorial.

NDA 2.0: What it means for India’s environment

From Mongabay: Activists fear dilutions of the green laws and rules against the interests of forest dwellers and tribals would continue unabated. The union environment already has, on its table, an amendment in the Indian Forest Act 1927, revision of the national forest policy and the new set of rules for the environment clearance regime.

Aseem Shrivastava: Meher Engineer RIP… “Ami ki korbo?”

Prof. Meher Engineer, physicist and formerly Acting Director, J. C. Bose Institute, Kolkata and former Chairperson, Indian Academy of Social Sciences, passed away on April 24, 2019. Involved in many people’s movements working on human rights, livelihood and environmental issues, he was also an authority in climate science and active in the climate justice movement.

Arundhati Roy: ‘We’re lurching into an unknown future, in a blitzkrieg of idiocy’

“And now, irony of ironies, a consensus is building that climate change is the world’s single largest security challenge. Increasingly the vocabulary around it is being militarized. And no doubt very soon its victims will become the ‘enemies’ in the new war without end.” (From Arundhati Roy’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture for PEN-America)

Cleaning up India’s air pollution — damned if we do, damned if we don’t?

Chirag Dhara writes: There is no disputing how urgently India – and the rest of the world – need to clean up its air. Unfortunately, therein lies a cruel twist. A rapid decontaminating of the air of aerosol pollution –assuming it was possible– itself raises the prospect of serious health consequences. The reason: how aerosols interact with climate.

How the Narendra Modi government is diluting green clearance norms

From Down to Earth: It looks like the environmental clearance process is becoming a formality. The quality of assessment, compliance of clearance conditions and the involvement of local community through public hearings are being further weakened. The purpose is to ease the process of obtaining clearances for mega projects like Bharatmala Pariyojana and Sagar Mala.

Rahul Gandhi’s cash transfer scheme could be a revenue neutral Carbon Tax

“Carbon tax” is a tax on fossil fuels to reduce their consumption. A revenue neutral carbon tax is “the fairest, most effective, most efficient single policy tool in the fight for a habitable climate,” says Charles Komanoff. The term “revenue neutral” simply means the tax revenue is returned back to the public in some form.

Dhruv Rathee: Environment is the Modi government’s most under-reported disaster

The UPA government didn’t have a stellar record on environment, but what has happened in past five years is unprecedented. The biggest statistical evidence for this lies in the Environmental Performance Index, where India was ranked the fourth-worst country (177) in the world out of 180 last year. Five years ago, India was ranked 155th.

Elections 2019: People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable, and Sustainable India

We commit, and ask all political parties, people’s movements, civil society organisations, and other relevant groups to commit to an India that is just, equitable, and sustainable for today’s and coming generations. The above commitment (and related steps) is urgently required in the context of the multiple crises we are facing today. (Courtesy Vikalp Sangam)

Rahul Basu: What the National Mineral Policy 2019 does and doesn’t get right

The National Mineral Policy 2019 lays a foundation for the systematic implementation of intergenerational equity in India with reference to natural resources. However, the question is whether it will be implemented and implemented quickly. Will future generations see us as the generation that consumed the planet, or the generation that changed the course of history?

Why the ‘polluter pays’ principle should be abandoned

Nupur Chowdhury writes: The ‘polluter pays principle’ is seen as an effective remedy to address environmental degradation. The PPP allows the polluter to evade punitive action by paying for environmental damage, the presumption being that the monies collected would then be used for restoring the environment. We’ve failed to understand that environmental damage is irreversible.

Taking India’s climate migrants seriously

Given the scale of the problem, India’s response to climate migration has been woefully inadequate. Administrative lethargy or the lack of foresight and planning will only exacerbate the suffering and plight of climate migrants. This is particularly unjust to them, as they are least responsible for the mess we find ourselves in, writes Nandan Sharalaya

Fifteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India: New report

From IndiaSpend.com: Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, according to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world by IQAir Group. Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 g/m3 (micrograms/cubic metre), in 2018.

Kaiga nuclear plant expansion: Expect body blow for Western Ghats biodiversity

From Down to Earth: The biodiversity of the Western Ghats, already under a lot of anthropogenic pressure, will suffer even more if the expansion of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant, goes ahead. That this will be done for generating power through a technology that has several alternative and much benign options is even more ironical.

As Kerala’s sacred groves disappear, the Theyyam art form loses a vital link

There has always been an unmistakable umbilical link between the dance form of Kerala called Theyyam and nature. The unique pantheistic art form of the Theyyam now faces increasing threats of gentrification and Brahminisation, thus paving the way for the destruction of the sacred groves where it was born. Text and photographs by Thulasi Kakkat.

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