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.
From Frontier Weekly: The flood in Kerala, created by an overdrive in construction activities, which gave enormous profits to corporate capital, now demands reconstruction work on a giant scale, which only expands the market for corporations further. It is obvious that this is not what is required. The requirement is an alternative model of reconstruction.
From The Hindu: It’s imperative that we abandon business as usual. We cannot just focus on man-made capital; but enhance the sum total of man-made, natural, human and social capital. The new regime that we usher in should acknowledge that it is local communities that have a genuine stake in the health of their ecosystems.
From Mongabay: It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century, with all 14 districts on red alert. With over 445 dead, a million still in relief camps, its impact will last for years. But the future can be more climate-resilient if grassroots communities realise start working for the conservation of fragile ecologies
When in July 2017, Coca-Cola informed India’s Supreme Court that it won’t restart its bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, it brought to a close a decade-long agitation spearheaded by the local community comprising mostly dalits and adivasis. This historic struggle has now been comprehensively documented in a digital project by Neethu Das of Keraleeyam Magazine.
The fracas over water sharing has obscured the fact that the Cauvery itself is facing a major threat: two railway lines to be constructed through Kodagu, the forested hill district where the river originates. A river’s fate – and those of the millions that depend on it – now hangs in balance, writes Chirag Chinnappa.
From The Wire: An Indian Oil Terminal, which can store up to 15,400 metric tons of cooking gas, is scheduled to be built in Vypeen, Kochi, which is among the world’s most densely populated islands. Will Kerala’s Communist Patrty-led government allow this high risk project to come up, defying all common sense and public opinion?
Nidhi Jamwal writes: The India Meteorological Department claims its job was done by forecasting the cyclone, whereas the affected state government believes its rescue and relief actions are “a formidable achievement”. However, the deadly (mis)management of Ockhi raises some important questions, for which clear action-points are needed to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Dr Latha Anantha, an expert on rivers and one of the first names to crop up in the struggle to protect them, is no more. The founder and moving spirit behind the River Research Centre, Kerala, she was best known for her efforts to save the Chalakudy river. She’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
I’m no elephant whisperer, nor do I claim to have complex exchanges with them by moonlight, but the reverse is true: when they come by, I’m whispered out of my den by their calls and cries, by their trumpets, rumbles and whooshing sighs. When elephants arrive in the valley, I scoot out of my sheets.
From The Hindu: Straddling six states, the 1600-odd kilometre-long Western Ghats is home to an astonishing diversity of life and supports innumerable communities and cultures. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the remarkable 100-day ‘Save Western Ghats March’, a landmark event in Indian environmental activism, which became the model for numerous campaigns to follow.
Hundreds of Endosulfan-affected people, this time from Karnataka, are threatening to sit on a fast until death from May 27 to demand better care from the government. Here are exhaustive reports from Down to Earth magazine, which first exposed the issue in 2001, chronicling one of the worst and longest-running pesticide poisoning episodes in history.
This is the introductory article in Firstpost’s nine-part series of ground reports on the ongoing water crisis in south India. The series will cover various aspects of the near-calamitous situation in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with the onset of blistering heat waves that are putting more pressure on existing water resources.
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.
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.
Jemima Rohekar writes: So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. It is also the site of the first and most bitterly fought ‘environment vs development’ debate in India. Silent Valley reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth.
The National Green Tribunal has virtually given the go-ahead for the proposed mega port at Vizhinjam, to be built and run by the Adani group, setting aside appeals by local fisher folk and environmentalists. Here’s a closer look at what’s at stake at Vizhinjam, and why many consider it another developmental disaster in the making.
Suprabha Seshan writes: Modern education serves a version of Gulag, by forcing our young to suffer unspeakable conditions in their most vulnerable years. It ultimately breaks them, in order to refashion them into a pliable workforce. This psychic predicament goes hand in hand with the destruction of life, with the catastrophic end of the biosphere.
Avant Garde Innovations, founded by siblings Arun and Anoop George from Kerala, has come up with a low-cost wind turbine that can generate enough electricity to power an entire house for a lifetime. The size of a ceiling fan, this wind turbine can generate 5 kWh/kW per day— with just a one-time cost of US$750.
Neha Miriam Kurian writes: The Left-Front government in Kerala is reviving the Athirappilly Hydro Electric Project against stiff resistance from local tribes and environmentalists. If implemented, it will displace the ancient hunter-gatherer Kadar tribe and submerge the only remaining low elevation riparian forests left in the Western Ghats, one of the world’s eight biodiversity ‘hotspots’.