From Live Mint: Dodgy numbers, a ‘flexible’ approach to the facts and self-serving definitions beginning with how “forest cover” itself is actually defined. This is what accounts for the unanimous skepticism among ecologists and other experts of the “growth” in India’s forest cover, claimed by the recently released India State of the Forest Report 2019.
Modi govt and environment
PM Narendra Modi wants India to be a “$5 trillion economy” by 2024. The consequences of such high GDP growth –even setting aside questions regarding its distribution or true worth– will result in depriving the dispossessed sections of society of access even to natural resources, while driving fragile ecologies to a point of no return.
Padma Rigzin writes: Ladakh’s folk religion teaches that humans do not form the centre of the natural world but are merely inhabitants. So much so that my ancestors would not move a rock to build a house. Unfortunately, people in Leh are shouting the tune of the mainstream. Ambani has already started knocking our doors.
From The Hindu: The perverse ‘achievements’ of those relentless in their advocacy of the Sardar-Sarovar dam are now evident. The riches of Gujarat—shown as a model to the rest of India—are the result of such violent extraction, exploitation and destruction that benefit a few while victimising many. Any protest is being beaten into the earth.
A slew of infrastructure projects in Kashmir, now a Union Territory, are now likely to be fast-tracked. These include road projects totalling 683.31 km, the marquee Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels, and several dam projects. This LiveMint article says the infrastructure push must be seen in the backdrop of China’s controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor next door.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 The Hindu:This government has unleashed several extremely unimaginative developmental policies that target ecologically valuable areas and turn them into sites for industrial production, despite abundant evidence for such policies’ damaging effects. The latest instance of this is the 2018 CRZ notification, which, among other things, increases the vulnerability of coastal people to climate disasters.
Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah write: We are caught in a false debate, where Narendra Modi, the perpetrator of 2002 carnage is counter-posed with Modi the “development leader”. We call it a false debate, since for us, who have lived and grown in Gujarat, the two aspects are actually the same – that of fascism.
The full text of a Public Interest Litigation initiated before the Supreme Court of India, by Akhilesh Chipli and Shankar Sharma, requesting the court to draw firm legal limits on India’s suicidally destructive economic growth during the last three decades, which has led to rapidly deteriorating ecological conditions (air, water, soil, climate) in the country.
Building the world’s largest nuclear power project in an ecologically fragile region like Konkan, along with attendant concerns of the safety, an unsteady French nuclear industry, will pose serious challenges to the environment, biodiversity, health and livelihoods of lakhs of people in the region. Is the Modi government courting a nuclear Bhopal, asks Sonali Huria.
From Mainstream Weekly: Dr. G. D. Agrawal (now Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand) is one of India’s most distinguished environmental engineers, who served as the first Member-Secretary of India’s Central Pollution Control Board. Fasting for almost 100 days now to save the river Ganga, he’s now on his sixth, and in his own words, final “fast-unto-death”.
To the shock of greens everywhere, Indian PM Modi, whose government has absolutely the worst environmental track record in the country’s history, has been declared a UN “Champion of the Earth”. However, coming from Erik Solheim, the UN environment chief facing a string of corruption allegations himself, this ‘honour’ may not be all that surprising.
Rajeev Suri writes: In keeping with his belief that most cases are being filed by blackmailers, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the new Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal, has been following the three D rule; Dismiss, Dispose, Disburse. The Chairperson is also known for his previous association with the ruling party and strong RSS leanings.
Pancheshwar Dam, kingpin of the river-linking project, will be the Himalayas’ largest reservoir. It’ll be located in one of india’s most seismically active areas, yet the project has been marred by shockingly poor environment appraisal. With little chances of it being economically viable, the project is nothing but a lucrative, contractor-friendly pipedream, writes Himanshu Thakkar.
A startlingly pessimistic vision of India’s looming environmental and economic collapse by a senior business leader deserves our urgent attention and ought to revive the debate on development, democracy and policy choices. It’s also the closest we have got to a confession from an insider as to what has really been going in the country.
Sopan Joshi writes: Sanitation links the rich to the poor, the land to the water, the clean to the unclean, the sacred to the untouchable. But sanitation discussions among India’s elites is driven by a concern about India’s international image. If it evades our dirty realities, SBA will not go beyond an attempted image makeover.