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”.
Modi govt and environment
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.
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.
The 900km, all-weather road enhancing connectivity between four major Hindu pilgrimage sites is PM Modi’s pet project. It will not only displace hundreds of people, but create a massive rush of pilgrims, putting untold pressure on the delicate Himalayan ecology. Experts say it’s also ill-conceived, given its location on the ‘floodway’ of the Ganga basin.
Ramesh Venkataraman writes: A common theme running through the policy document is increasing tree and canopy cover in all areas with low tree cover at present. While prima facie this seems to be a laudable objective that is aligned with climate change mitigation goals, this raises a number of questions from ecological and sustainability perspectives.
Both social equity and environmental sustainability are critical to our republic’s future. The present government seems bent on reversing the modest gains of the past three decades by making the corporate sector, once more, the key beneficiary of State forest policies. This is the inescapable conclusion one reaches after reading the ‘Draft Forest Policy, 2018’.
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?
India has just climbed an unprecedented 30 spots on the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking, which’s being celebrated as a historic moment by the mainstream media. This Down to Earth report shows how this ‘achievement’ has come at a possibly permanent damage to the environment, thanks to a steady dilution of regulatory norms.
Kumar Sundaram writes in The Ecologist: Dubbing nuclear energy as a solution to climate change has been a key strategy of the Indian government for selling nuclear projects to the public as well as justifying the spree of nuclear agreements with other countries. Here are three reasons why this is not feasible, desirable and cost-effective.
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.
Nitin Sethi writes: Whatever a government might do to run the economic engine of the country or its politics, it has to continuously claim that it is a win-win for both the environment and development. It will talk about its moves to set up zero-effect and zero-defect industries. We all know such an idea does not exist.
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.
From DNA: Sagarmala is the Indian Government’s Rs 10 lakh crore programme to build Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) and industrial clusters around 14 key ports. But, the Sagarmala plan document lays out its goals as if the coast has been an empty or unproductive space, and is now poised to be a “gateway” to growth.
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.
There were 1.1 million premature deaths in India due to long-term exposure to pollutants. While China registered slightly higher figures, it has now acted against this hazard—the situation in India, in contrast, is getting worse. The highest number of premature deaths globally due to ozone is also in India. Might all this qualify as genocide?