Swati Bansal writes: The project envisages the building of many dams, canals and tunnels, which will lead to a huge social and environmental cost. The proposed Ken-Betwa link alone will destroy over 4,100 hectares of forests. If a single project of interlinking could accrue such an environmental cost, what will be the impact of 30?
Ministry of Environment
Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh tells IndiaSpend about his latest book ‘Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature’, why you can’t leave the environment to market forces, the current government’s policies, the erosion of the National Green Tribunal’s autonomy, the recent commercial approval for GM mustard and the poor implementation of environmental laws in the country.
From Scroll.in: While the UPA government had been steadily weakening safeguards for India’s environment, forests and wildlife, the present NDA government is carrying forward this agenda in an even more aggressive and systematic manner. A new book by Prerna Singh Bindra details how ‘ease of doing business’ has become an excuse to ignore wildlife protection.
News Click reports: The Ministry of Environment plans to amend the National Green Tribunal Act, which was passed during the UPA regime as part of India’s commitment under the Rio Declaration. The move will result in a dilution of the powers of the body, widely regarded as the most effective environmental court in the world.
Ken-Betwa river-linking project, if realised, will destroy livelihoods and ecology, including a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Curiously enough, ground reports show that farmers in the project area are themselves not keen on it. Also included is a documentary, ‘Links of a Broken Chain’, as well as a detailed technical analysis of the project.
The Wire reports: India’s environment ministry issued a notification that’s a remarkable show of partisan support to projects that have been illegally operating without environmental approvals. The document lays out a process by which illegal industrial units, mines, ports or hydro projects can be granted clearance and “brought into compliance” within the next six months.
Ritwick Dutta writes: India’s Environment minister recently urged his colleagues to be wary of foreign-funded NGOs. Ironically, his own party, the ruling BJP, was held guilty by the Delhi High Court for accepting funds from Vedanta, a UK-based company accused of gross environmental and human rights violations. Other violators include Lafarge, POSCO and Coca Cola.
Dr George Schaller, considered one of the finest field biologists in the world, and has a close connection to India. His work with tigers in Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha National Park, revolutionised wildlife research in India. He tells Scroll.in how Indian conservation has changed, why scientists need to engage with governments and what keeps him going.
Ritwick Dutta writes: The National Green Tribunal recently passed a landmark judgment ruling that only those persons who have ‘special knowledge’ and ‘practical experience’ in ‘matters relating to environmental protection’ are eligible for appointment to pollution control boards. Unfortunately, across various states, persons who do not fulfill the criterion have been appointed in these posts.
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.
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.
Sukanta Chaudhari writes: Today, a great threat looms over wetlands. Under a new environmental regime, each state will be free to form its own guidelines. Bengal’s new environment minister, has declared his intention of ‘developing’ the wetlands and even having their Ramsar status annulled. The truth is that Kolkata’s wetlands are ‘real estate in waiting’.
Jay Mazoomdar reports: Three-quarters of the Environment Ministry’s Environment Supplement Plan — 2,900 words of the 3,850-word draft — is directly lifted from a similar US government document. The draft notification proposes to allow those who go ahead with project work without prior environmental clearance. Under existing laws, these are criminal offences punishable with imprisonment.
Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava reports: Massive plantation drives over the past decade have not translated into any significant increase in India’s green cover, an analysis of government data shows, putting a question mark over the money-guzzling schemes and the government’s recent move to distribute Rs 41,000 crore to the states for plantation and regeneration of forests.
Ritwick Dutta writes on the Environment Ministry’s new draft notification, which if finalised, will sound the death knell for the crucial process of Environment Impact Assessment of developmental and industrial projects in India, and thus legitimise all violations of environmental law. The notification holds serious consequences, for the environment, and for ‘Rule of Law’ itself.
Colin Todhunter writes: With Modi now at the helm, the government is doing the bidding of global biotech companies and is currently trying to push through herbicide-tolerant GM mustard based on fraudulent tests and ‘regulatory delinquency‘, which will not only open the door to GM crops but will boost the sales of Bayer’s glufinosate herbicide.
Nitin Sethi scoops the latest instance of cronyism: The environment ministry has withdrawn a Rs 200 crore fine from Adani Ports for damaging the environment imposed by the UPA government, the biggest penalty for green violations on record, and also extended a 2009 environmental clearance for the company’s waterfront development project at Mundra in Gujarat.
Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava reports: The National Board of Wildlife, the highest advisory body to the government on wildlife issues, has cleared more industrial projects in and around wildlife habitats in past two years of NDA rule than what its predecessor UPA-II did in its entire tenure of five years, shows the data compiled by CSE.
Two years of NDA government have meant a mixed bag for environmental governance in India, according to a performance review by the non-profit Centre for Science and Environment, While there was commendable progress on pollution control and waste management, forest governance took on a more industry-centric approach and the Paris Agreement was a missed opportunity.
The Centre has endorsed various states’ move to list wild animals – elephants in Bengal, monkeys in Uttarakhand, peacocks in Goa and nilgai in Bihar – as ‘vermin’, allowing them to be culled. With human-animal conflict once again in under the lens, we present a selection of articles that examine both sides of the story.