From Mongabay India: First envisaged in the early 2000s, Lavasa was touted as independent India’s first privately owned hill city. But over the years, the project faced numerous legal cases of usurping the land of villagers and violating environmental conditions. It’s now a ghost town with empty, unfinished construction or buildings vacated by their occupants.
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.
From Climate Home News: Perhaps the most egregious fix, given the prominence of the issue and its consequences for Indians’ health, is the Modi government’s attempts to defer a December 2017 deadline for air pollution standards for thermal power plants. Without these, India’s hopes of reducing deadly air pollution from its electricity sector are nixed.
From PARI: The people of Aarey find their eviction and ‘rehabilitation’ absurd. Prakash Bhoir, 46, who lives in Keltipada, says, “We are Adivasis [he is a Malhar Koli]. This land is a source of income and survival for us. Can we do cultivation in those high-rise buildings? We just cannot live without soil and trees.”
Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.
From DNA: Under the leadership of PM Modi, governments pushed down the bar on environmental standards this year. At both Centre and state levels, there have been numerous reversals in environmental legislation. Today, there are 2357 applications with the Centre that were rejected approvals by state institutions or have nearly completed construction with no approvals.
Industrial farming, which gets all the attention (and most of the land), accounts for more than 80% of fossil fuel emissions and uses over 70% of the water supply in agriculture, actually produces only about 30% of the world’s food. It’s the diverse network of small-scale producers-the ‘Peasant Food Web’-that feeds 70% of the world.
From ABC News: This eagerly awaited TV-documentary is the result of a months-long investigation into the Adani Group, made in the context of a bitter clash between citizen-groups and the Australian government over the company’s giant coal mine in Queensland. It offers a revealing look into the company’s controversial business practices and their global consequences.
Frontline reports: Across the country, large tracts of land are being earmarked for exclusive solar power parks. The rocky terrain of Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district has emerged as the largest solar power-generating hub in India, but the nomadic communities that have lived there for generations find themselves dispossessed of land and reduced to abject poverty.
From Scroll.in: 60-year-old Anu Muhammad, the author of 30 books, has been getting repeated death threats for his role leading a seven-year campaign against plans to build a $1.5 billion coal-fired power plant in Rampal, southern Bangladesh, on a site teeming with waterways, mud flats and a host of threatened species from crocodiles to pythons.
Heera Bai reports: Across the Tribal Belt of Central India, indigenous communities are constantly being evicted from ancestral lands to make way for development projects, industry, tourism and government-sanctioned conservation initiatives. In the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Baiga community have faced a legacy of evictions that dates back more than 30 years.
From People’s Media: In January 2017, two people were killed when the police fired on villagers in Bhangar, in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. They were protesting the forcible acquisition of their fertile agricultural land for a proposed powerg-rid substation. Read reports and watch a short film made on location, as the events unfolded.
From The New York Times: At 82, the anthropologist T. N. Pandit passes his days in the gentle occupations of old age: poetry, a Buddhist study circle, a daily walk in the park. It is rare for anyone to ask him about the years he spent with the hunter gatherer tribes of the Andaman Islands.
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’.
GRAIN.org reports: The world’s largest transnational food companies are rolling out a programme promising “market-based” solutions in agriculture. Vietnam’s highlands are the showcase for ‘GROW’, a global initiative under the World Economic Forum. A closer look reveals the programme’s real objective: to expand production of a handful of high-value commodities to profit a few corporations.
Excerpt from Islands in Flux, by Pankaj Sekhsaria: These communities of thousands of individuals with a living lineage going back thousands of years have been brought to this sorry state in a mere 150 years. It began with the British and their policies, which have been kept up with clinical efficiency by modern, independent India.
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.
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.
Bill Laurance writes: An unprecedented spate of road building is happening now, with around 25 million kilometres of new paved roads expected by 2050. An ambitious new study that mapped all roads globally has found that roads have split the Earth’s land surface into 600,000 fragments, most of them too tiny to support significant wildlife.
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.