What explains India’s remarkably low numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases, which defies every global trend? The Union Health Ministry’s false claims and the ICMR’s ‘designed not to detect’ testing policy may have ensured that India has wasted precious time and suppressed the real picture of coronavirus’ spread in India – with disastrous consequences for all.
Narendra Modi government
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.
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.
Influential natural farming advocate Subhash Palekar recently approved the use of Genetically Modified crops in his well-known “Zero Budget Natural Farming-ZBNF” method. In an equally startling interview, he described organic farming as “worse than the atom bomb.” Here, two veteran practitioners respond to Palekar, while reviewing the history of the Organic/Natural Farming movement in India.
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.
“And now, irony of ironies, a consensus is building that climate change is the world’s single largest security challenge. Increasingly the vocabulary around it is being militarized. And no doubt very soon its victims will become the ‘enemies’ in the new war without end.” (From Arundhati Roy’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture for PEN-America)
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.
The National Mineral Policy 2019 lays a foundation for the systematic implementation of intergenerational equity in India with reference to natural resources. However, the question is whether it will be implemented and implemented quickly. Will future generations see us as the generation that consumed the planet, or the generation that changed the course of history?
From Down to Earth: The biodiversity of the Western Ghats, already under a lot of anthropogenic pressure, will suffer even more if the expansion of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant, goes ahead. That this will be done for generating power through a technology that has several alternative and much benign options is even more ironical.
From The Wire: The Rs 3 lakh crore oil refinery project, planned by oil majors over an expanse of over 15,000 acres of land in Maharashtra’s Konkan region, if it takes off, will inevitably displace farmers and fisherfolk from 17 villages – 15 villages in Ratnagiri and two in neighbouring Sindhudurg along the western coast.
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.
J. Harsha, Director, Central Water Commission, writes: India fails to deliver water in time, and in adequate quantities to small landholdings (< 1 hectare) belonging to marginal farmers (constituting 85 per cent of total farmers) cultivating in 43.64 million hectares of canal-irrigated areas. The impact of this great Indian irrigation deceit is enormous on agriculture